Aespa (Korean: 에스파; RR: eseupa; MR: esŭp’a, commonly stylized in all lowercase or æspa) is a South Korean girl group formed by SM Entertainment. The group consists of Karina, Giselle, Winter and Ningning. The group debuted on November 17, 2020 with the release of their debut single, “Black Mamba”.
The group’s name, Aespa, is a combination of “ae”, composed of the English initials of Avatar and Experience (Avatar X Experience), and the English word “aspect” meaning “two sides”, symbolizing “meeting another self and experiencing the new world”.
2016–2019: Pre-debut activities
Ningning was introduced as a member of SM Rookies on September 19, 2016. As part of it, she appeared on the Rookies Princess: Who’s the Best? segment of the program My SMT in 2016, and recorded several covers for the Korean animated TV program Shining Star in 2017.
Karina appeared in labelmate Taemin’s music video for the song “Want” in February 2019 and performed with him on several music programs in the weeks following.
Karina joined with EXO’s KAI in Hyundai Motors first virtual showcase for the new Hyundai Tucson. They performed a special dance performance introducing the vehicle.
2020–present: Introduction, debut with “Black Mamba”, “Forever”, and “Next Level”
On October 26, SM Entertainment announced that it would be debuting a new girl group, the first since Red Velvet in 2014 and the first overall idol group since NCT in 2016. The members were revealed individually from October 27 to 30 (in order: Winter, Karina, Ningning, and Giselle) along with the name Aespa. A further explanation about Aespa’s concept was offered by SM Entertainment founder Lee Soo-man at the 2020 World Cultural Industry Forum, held online on October 28. A video trailer with all four members was revealed on November 2. On the same day, the agency announced that Aespa will release their debut single “Black Mamba” on November 17. The group made their broadcast debut on KBS2’s Music Bank on November 20 where they performed their debut single. The group also reached number one on the K-pop music video charts of China’s biggest music-streaming service, QQ Music for three consecutive weeks. On January 17, 2021, Aespa received their first ever music show win for “Black Mamba” on Inkigayo.
On January 29, 2021, SM Entertainment announced Aespa will release a new single titled “Forever”, a remake of a single by Yoo Young-jin, released for SM Entertainment’s holiday album Winter Vacation in SMTOWN.com in 2000. The single was officially released on February 5, 2021. The song was described as a mid-tempo ballad with an acoustic guitar sound and warm lyrics about promising forever to a loved one.
On May 4, 2021, SM Entertainment announced that Aespa would be making a comeback later that month. Their third single “Next Level”, was released on May 17.