Review

Song Review: aespa – Black Mamba

It’s been over six years since SM Entertainment last debuted a new girl group, making aespa’s arrival long overdue. I feel like there have been rumors about a new girl group for at least four years now, with many picturing a large, SNSD-like configuration. Instead, aespa is a tight, four-person act, just as Red Velvet were when they first debuted in the summer of 2014. But, aespa’s avatar gimmick gives each girl a digital counterpart, presumably expanding performance capacity. The merging of technology and music is very SM in nature, but the teasers for debut single Black Mamba reminded me more of YG Entertainment’s BLACKPINK.

Fortunately, I think this track has just enough character to establish aespa as their own force. Most of that is down to the vocals, which carry the kind of confident power that’s always been a hallmark of SM artists. Take that away and Black Mamba‘s sound is typical of this K-pop generation. I wish that aespa had opted for a more unique palette, but at least they pull off this style well.

Opening with gritty bass, Black Mamba’s first verse feels the most familiar of all the track’s elements, down to the trap beat underlining much of the instrumental. The pre-chorus injects a bit more melody, buoyed by co-producer Yoo Young-jin’s familiar backing vocals. But, Black Mamba grows stronger as it goes on. While I would have preferred a bigger chorus instead of a glorified beat drop, the thundering drums hit hard and this hook is paired with an exciting vocal performance. Yet, the song’s most electrifying moment comes during its bridge, where we’re treated to the kind of sky-high, classic SM vocal. Rumors are already swirling that aespa will grow to include more members, but I’m eager to see what these four can do in the future. Black Mamba isn’t perfect, but it’s got my attention.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

32 thoughts on “Song Review: aespa – Black Mamba

  1. Congratulations, and thank you, SM, for providing the missing part of a perfect threesome of girl crush from the big 3. Now we all have a third opportunity to scroll on by the fandom comment wars.

    Song is OK. Meets expectations.

    Yeah, the bass is funky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some fans on the internet have already accused aespa of plagerizing every girl crush group active this year. I’m not surprised…

      Like

  2. Amazing vocals indeed! It really saved the song from being average , to me , This was pretty typical and I wish for something better but hey at least it’s good.

    RATING: 8.5

    Also , November has potential , in giving us Overdrive and Ghosting/WishList so I genuinely hope Woollim and BigHit make the right decision.

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    • I’m withholding judgment on the aespa vocals for now, as in this song it is all the bratty shouty style of singing. The song has a limited range too, maybe C to C, so there is limited opportunity to show off anything but a mixed midrange shout. I swear at some points, it sounds like a Jennie and Rose’ duet, if I didn’t know otherwise upfront.
      So we shall see what they put out next.

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      • The got this super heavy processed fm effect heavy vocal all the way through the song which is what I think the Jenne and Rose™ comes from and I would argue is correct in this song. This is actually a bit rare for SM since previously they would go out of their way to eliminate this effect from the demo (see jopping) and try to come up with some other things that work (which in jopping, actually not so much) so this is kind of a surprise to me.

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  3. I like it. It’s interesting how SM went very familiar with the sound, it sounds very ITZY mixed with Blackpink I must say [though I’m afraid I think everyone has said this already]. It feels like ITZY’s Cherry made by SM and YG in a trench coat.

    The thunderous sounding chorus works for me, the production and performance is enough for it to work with a great bridge too. That bass elevates this song incredible well too.

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  4. This is FAR from being a bad debut, is quite good. The girls seem to be super talented and the mv is super beautiful. The song didn’t do much for me tho, the verses weren’t specially striking and the chorus was okay. I’m hopeful to see what aespa will bring in the future tho.

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  5. This song is ok, somehow it reminds me of AleXa and Katy Perry’s E.T. But I love how the focusing on one member every comeback doesn’t feel forced as Karina was highlighted but the other members still get to shine even more because of lines and vocals.

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  6. It’s solid, even if it feels like familiar territory. This is certainly SM’s answer to Blackpink, Itzy, and the other girl crush groups of this generation.
    The bass in the post chorus (the ay yay yay yay part) felt suitably badass. We’ll see what they follow up with.

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  7. Thing is, it is reallly short, the 2 girl group titles SM put out this year are BOTH under 3 minutes. This one is much tighter, packed than monster though (I guess 4 members in 3 minutes requires more melodies to sing than 2), so this one got that going.

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  8. It’s a good debut. Maybe “Black Mamba” won’t go down in history as one of the best kpop debuts, but it certainly makes a statement on what these girls will bring to the table. Song overall is a 8/10 for me. Not exactly my taste but it’s nice and it allows them to show off their talents, even if we don’t yet see Giselle rapping. Not sure if I noticed the vocal processing, but the members sound good here and, as expected from SM, they deliver a very good and solid vocal performance, all of them (which is sadly becoming strange in rookie groups recently).

    I was expecting SM to go with a more SNSD-esque concept for their new girl group and I’m still really reluctant about the avatar/AI concept but I’m excited to see more of them and the song had me asking for more. I’m also extremely intrigued if, as the rumors say, SM will add more members to the group eventually.

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      • You probably dislike it cause Its something new… Everyone wants something new these days but when something new is actually done then people say what u said lol… Anyway its up to them whether they can make this avatar thing work… lets see

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  9. I had a pretty similar opinion of Black Mamba. I too got some really strong BlackPink and Itzy vibes from Aespa. It was a pretty good debut. Like all new groups, we just have to wait and see what else they offer and what kind of sound they will create for themselves. Overall, I was pretty impressed! The vocals were solid and the grittiness of the song really helped elevate it for me.

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  10. I’m sorry – this song is VERY ordinary and if they were not an SM group I don’t think it would take them anywhere. That’s not a knock against them per se but as a follow-up to a group like RV this to me is not good enough. Compare Happiness to this and see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happiness is definitely far superior, and Into The New World is on another level entirely. La Cha Ta is probably a touch stronger too, but we’ll see how Black Mamba ages.

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    • Happiness was soo generic, the verses were good but the chorus ” La La La La La La La La La ” was sooo boring and I would say that happiness had better verses and the most amazing bridge because of wendy vocals but Black Mamba had a better pre-chorus, drop and chorus

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  11. The song is so… bleh. It was the auditory equivalent of shadow boxing. You keep expecting a punch to hit but it just passes you by, and that can be especially damning in the girl crush world. The bass is fun, but that’s about all that sticks out to me. For a Big 3 debut (I still can’t believe it’s been over 6 years since Red Velvet debuted!), nothing about the song or debut as a whole does more than meet required standards, much like Red Velvet’s own debut from the rushed single to the accountant must be skimming off the top MV. On the other hand, the group itself seems to have a ton of promise, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what SM does with aespa in future comebacks. I know I was underwhelmed when Red Velvet debuted as well, but wow, look at the amazing discography they’ve established now. And as far as skill and talent go, I think these girls might be slightly ahead of Red Velvet at their debutS

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  12. My first thought after seeing the mv was, “okay, so this is SM’s version of BP and itzy”. The mv’s comment section is filled with spam comments apparently from blinks so this looks like another fandom war, geez. I’m not very impressed but we’ll see, they look like they have lots of potential. I love RV I hope they don’t get neglected 😦

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  13. The song sounds like Itzy’s Cherry with KDA inspired influence. For a company that has been producing OUTSTANDING GIRL GROUPS with very different niches, this was such a bland debut. I think they’re also adding more members according to the rumors on Twitter. I respect them but the AI concept isn’t for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Idk why but I kept hoping that Aespa was really going to sound like 100 gecs, PC Music and Charli XCX. Ever since Sophie produced that track for Itzy, I keep thinking that some group is going to dive in and come out with some really wonked out Hyperpop . I think it could really flatter if merged with some classic songwriting approaches as well. And the Dua Lipa/Weeknd jocking is past it’s welcome.

    Anyway this hope is long crushed. Wellp, everything is hype and big budget which I appreciate. What original review says about the only individuality of the track hinging on the the vocal performances themselves is true.
    Chorus is way too flat for me-not even an effective instrumental drop- , I think the verses and that bridge are cool.

    I hope SM makes some bolder choices, musically, for aespa in the future – I’ll be looking forward

    Like

  15. When I first hear it while watching the MV, I was like meh. KDA rip off. But I tried listening to it on Spotify, and I must say It’s pretty addicting, and their vocals are good. Maybe I just don’t want to hear it while watching the MV. I guess it would be better if it’s a performance video, which I will appreciate than the MV.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The avatar concept seems very obviously inspired by the success of K/DA and the style and concept of the MV and title track seems to be SMs answer to Blackpink and ITZY.. a logical choice for the company, but it does not scream creativity.

    About the song itself, I’m not blown away. I am not a fan of beat drops like this one, and the verses don’t keep me engaged. I really like the postchorus (after the drop), but that’s it.

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  17. A very weak debut for me. This song just sounds derivative of songs we’ve heard before from ITZY, Everglow, Loona and Blackpink. I can see why this hasn’t really taken off. I really hope girlgroups try and break the mould a bit more, this kind of trap/edm dance pop is becoming a bit more of the same.

    This didn’t deserve more than a 5 for me.

    Like

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