With their early singles “Black Mamba”, “Next Level,” and “Savage,” Aespa established a futuristic, lore-heavy concept in which the members had virtual counterparts. Moving away from this original concept, Aespa’s past few comebacks, “Spicy” and “Drama,” featured ‘real world’ concepts and more accessible sounds. “Supernova,” the pre-release single from their forthcoming full album Armageddon, announces a return to the concept and sonic experimentation of Aespa’s earlier work, . Even Karina’s opening line “I feel like some kind of supernova” recalls the delivery of “Oh my gosh, don’t you know I’m a savage?” 

In contrast to past lore, the Aespa members do not have AI counterparts, but instead seem to have become artificial and superhuman. The MV immediately establishes that they are otherworldly: Karina falls on top of a car and bares her fangs before lifting up said car; Winter levitates and lands on top of a goal net; Ningning flicks her finger, which sparks a flame. In another sequence, close-ups reveal that each member has multi-colored eyes or irises containing unusual shapes. 

Meanwhile, in the first verse, the constant zooms, seemingly handheld camera movements, and frenetic editing disorient the viewer. The visual movements correspond with the song’s sliding synths (among producer Dem Jointz’s and composer Kenzie’s multiple hard-hitting instrumental choices). The song itself is a curious blend of energetic beats and fairly deadpan, restrained vocals and sing-talking, until Winter and Ningning’s ad-libs in the final chorus. Throughout, the vocals feel slightly unnatural, but they do match the concept. All combined, the visual and musical choices convey the chaos that these non-human members unleash on the world. 

In a loose plot, Giselle attempts to assimilate into the human world, but cannot manage to do so. The other members do not attempt to blend into society and openly display their superhuman powers. They disrupt Giselle’s mundane human activities: in one wild sequence, she tries to solve a Captcha test to identify AI photos of Aespa members, but Karina shoots off her fingertip like a bullet to shatter Giselle’s phone. In another unbelievable scene, Ningning bursts through a wall to interrupt Giselle’s birthday party and set her apartment on fire. 

There is an undercurrent of violence throughout the video, including a part when Karina bumps the camera and a cracked glass effect appears on the lens. Essentially, the members possess great power, and are capable of great destruction. We as an audience are not immune from feeling the danger that the members present. 

For most of its run time, however, “Supernova” assumes that villains have more fun. The MV does not shy away from hilariously over-the-top imagery and cheeky, meta references, such as Giselle’s birthday cake reading “That’s Hot” (alluding to her own nickname and her solo song “2HOT4U”), later to be made literal with the room set ablaze. Other moments, such as Winter spinning around a flagpole and launching herself into the air, will surely become subjects of memes. 

The outro, though, is genuinely unsettling. Each member is set in a medium shot against a shallow and unchanging background. Her lips sing the lyrics and there are subtle facial movements, but otherwise the image remains still. The members seem more like deep fakes rather than actual people, evoking an ‘uncanny valley’ effect in the viewer. Furthermore, the images call back to the photos seen on the Captcha on Giselle’s phone. Once again, the question emerges about whether they are AI or not. The lyrics in the outro, repeated in refrain throughout the song, raise questions about identity:

Event’s imminent ah, oh, ayy

Blowin’ up crazy ah, oh, ayy

Questions keep comin’ ah, oh, ayy

Where did we come from oh, ayy

The conclusion to Giselle’s storyline could be the ‘imminent event’ referred to throughout the song. At the start of the bridge, Giselle’s anger at the events that transpire in the video leads her to fully embrace her power: turning back time. In essence, she is like the supernova unleashing its latent force. After the images rewind back Ningning and Karina’s entrance sequences, the MV cuts to a dance break, in which members dance on a platform in space and shine like the stars in the background. 

The dance break, employing a switch-up common in Aespa’s sound, samples Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force’s hip-hop classic “Planet Rock” (which itself draws from Kraftwerk’s avant-garde electronic track  “Trans-Europe Express”). In utilizing samples from two musical artists who pioneered electronic music and delved into futurism, Aespa implicitly establish that they, too, see futuristic sounds and concepts as an opportunity to experiment and innovate.  

“Supernova” cements Aespa’s unique identity, with its impressive production incorporating some of the group’s trademark switch-ups. The MV also returns to the space and AI imagery of Aespa’s original concept, but leaves behind lore-heavy references. Instead, by leaning into camp and weirdness, “Supernova” manages to remain recognizably Aespa while also pushing the boundaries of what they can do.  

(YouTube [1][2][3]. Lyrics via Genius. Images via SM Entertainment).