2021 is proving to be a big year for K-pop’s “global rookies” æspa. From becoming brand ambassadors for Givenchy to performing before the United Nations, æspa are truly starting to make a name for themselves. Their debut album, Savage, sold over half a million copies, earning them a spot on global charts, including Billboard 200. æspa reached a new milestone this month. On November 15, æspa won an award for the first time at the MTV European Music Awards. The quartet took the trophy for “Best Korea Act” this year.


A “Savage” Album Debut

Their EMA win comes after their successful promotional period for their debut EP, Savage. æspa released their debut mini-album on October 5, expanding on the lore of their mythological universe and showing more diverse music. The mini-album sold over 400,000 in pre-sales, and eventually exceeded 500 thousand copies sold after D-Day.  

‘Savage” surpassed 30 million views in 24 hours and 100 million views in 17 days, a personal record for the quartet. It remains in the top 10 spots on all major Korean charts even after a month since its release. The album also landed æspa a spot on multiple Billboard charts

On the Rising Girl Group 

Less than a year into their debut, æspa have already established themselves as leaders in K-pop. æspa gained attention upon the group’s announcement in 2020. Fans of K-pop were curious about the group after SM Entertainment released information about the group’s AI-heavy concept. æspa has eight members total: four real members and four digital avatars, who are their “æ” counterparts. The name æspa itself comes from the words “avatar” and “experience.” 

On November 17, 2020, æspa debuted with the powerful EDM track, “Black Mamba.” The single earned them global recognition, surpassing over 100 million views in 51 days and breaking the record for a K-pop act’s debut. Not only did it peak in the top 5 on the World Digital Song Sales chart, but it also landed them a spot on Billboard’s Global 200 chart. They won two “Rookie of the Year” awards following their epic debut.

In May, æspa had their breakout hit, “Next Level,” a song interpolated by the Fast & The Furious: Hobbs & Shaw track by A$ton Wilde. Excitement was at its peak after the girl group debuted their “SM Culture Universe” video teaser in collaboration with Marvel. Both their teasers and song expand on the lore of the æspa universe, bringing back the battle for good against the Black Mamba. 

 “Next Level” proved to truly elevate æspa, breaking numerous records on Korean charts, maintaining a spot on all major Korean charts for five months and reaching new peaks on international charts. 

With all of these accomplishments in less than a year, it is no surprise that æspa won Best Korea Act at the EMAs.

What’s the Next Level for æspa?

The EMAs win is just one of many for æspa in November. Last week, NINGNING hinted that there will be a full-length album in the near future during a fansign. No official confirmation or date has been set, but this is one of many activities MY, æspa’s fandom, can look forward to.

On November 14, The “Savage” singers recently had their first performance before an audience at the 2021 K-Culture World Concert. Their next in-person stage will be at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. æspa will join Olay’s “Her Future Is STEM-sational” float, becoming the first girl group to perform at the event. 

A year in the game and more to come, æspa are leading the next wave of K-pop in both the metaverse and around the globe.

Want more on æspa? Check out our coverage of their UN Day Concert performance here.

Thumbnail courtesy of SM Ent.