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Aespa Explores An Evolution of Intensity in “Spicy”

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K-pop girl group Aespa released their latest single, “Spicy,” which is part of their latest album “Thirsty,” on May 8. The group consists of Giselle, Winter, Karina, and Ningning.

The love song is about a girl/singer who encourages her suitor to go beyond his limits. The song centers around a guy who has a crush on the singer, with lines such as “You want my A to the Z” to demonstrate the person’s desire. However, he does not seem to be very forthcoming with his desires, as the singer describes him  as “Sittin’ on the fence, Oh, ain’t got a chance.” With this in mind, the singer’s imminent desires serve as a contrast to the indecisive boy by painting her as a blunt person who knows what she wants. Through translated lines such as, “Jump on in, Just right now,” the song shares that she wants a decisive partner who knows that they want to be with her, without hesitation. 

The other verses show the singer encouraging the boy to get closer to her. Translated lines like “Gimme the next level” and “Beyond our limits” imply that she is ready for the next stage in their relationship, but she is also more than he can handle. Over time, he finally gives their relationship a try, even if he has to go beyond his limits to do so. This is seen in one of the song’s final lines, “Finally comes the feeling of Joy,” which brings a sense of resolution and satisfaction, as he has finally managed to make them both happy, despite her warnings that she is  “too spicy for [his] heart”. Even though she comes off as “too spicy” or too intimating, she is willing to take a chance on others if they are willing to match her level.

A music video was released to accompany the song. After a series of cuts at a school, a park and a mansion, the group spends most of the start of the video at a pool, which they dance in front of. As the scene transitions to midnight, the girls’ outfits change into sexier forms for a midnight party. During the day scenes, Karina wears a white jacket, a pink skirt and a cropped tank top. Contrasting with this playful style, the night scenes see her wearing a colorful bra and jeans. This is a logical progression at this point in the song where the singer gets more intense. By being styled more seductively, their clothes are altered to match the more passionate lyrics. 

The difference in scenes also adds to the intensity of the music video, as the day scenes mostly feature the members by themselves while the party includes more people and shots of thrown drinks that give off a more chaotic feel. The video also has many moments where they quickly cut between many scenes and film settings to add to the fierce and wild nature of the song — a particularly apt style for a song about a girl who constantly encourages a boy to be more courageous in expressing himself and his love to her.  

The song’s melody also adds to the song’s undertones with its electronic edgy music. This makes sense because of how forthcoming the singer is, and the bluntness of the electronic beats match the singer’s clear desires and tough, encouraging nature.  

The song was promoted in multiple ways. One way was through dance challenges on their TikTok page, where Aespa danced to the song’s chorus in various configurations — as a group, alone, with celebrities, and more. The girl group also released a sped-up version of the dance with all four members. This would prove particularly useful to most others participating in the challenge, as many dance challenge songs, such as Fifty Fifty’s “Cupid” and Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary” use versions that are sped up compared to the original track.    

Another way they promoted the song was through a fan chant video, where they instructed fans to say certain phrases when they perform the song in concert, such as their names or lyrics. One notable addition to this video was when they mentioned just how challenging it was, with Karina noting that, “It’s pretty difficult, right?” after they were finished. Their devoted fandom, also known as “MY” which means “my most precious friend” in KWANGYA — the wilderness of the avatar Aespa — will likely master the fan chant with all the loyalty they can muster, as many followers will go above and beyond to show their love for a group.   

Bailey Kanthatham is an Arts & Entertainment Contributing Writer. He can be reached at bkanthat@uci.edu.