Song Review: aespa – Drama

As SM Entertainment’s ascendant girl group, aespa have dipped their toes into a variety of musical endeavors. Infrequent Korean comebacks are interspersed with English and Japanese work, guided them on a global pathway to success. However, their sound has been all over the place, as if SM can’t decide whether they want them to be the next BLACKPINK or something closer to breezy, Westernized pop. New single Drama leans decisively toward the former, but I’d rather hear aespa just be aespa.

On the surface, there’s not much here for me. I’m pretty exhausted with endless “I’m so badass” catchphrasey songwriting and vocal fry posturing, and Drama is largely a lurching exercise in corporate world-building. I know some readers hate when I compare artists to other artists, but that’s the name of the game in an industry as insular as this. And, there’s no way you can listen to Drama and not hear the BLACKPINK influence. It’s tempered by SM’s penchant for weird, distorted production, and there are moments when this instrumental legitimately slaps. I just wish they’d found a better song to hitch it to.

If I tuck my ‘aging K-pop fan jadedness’ away and ignore Drama‘s vacuous attempts at what passes for “empowering” lyrics, I think I can almost get into the campiness of its repeated incantation. The problem is, the song seems deadly serious. There’s not a tongue in cheek to be found, and that’s a shame. I love when K-pop goes larger than life, but this melodrama is at its best with a wink and a nod. Thankfully, Drama‘s explosive bridge reminds us just how well aespa can sing and its herky-jerky stomp manages to ignite some 2014-era f(x) sparks here and there. As is often the case, I just crave more than the same idol group boasts regurgitated over new production.






Grade: C+

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