BTS Soars With “Black Swan” – An Analysis

“A dancer dies twice — once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful.”

Martha Graham

BTS recently unveiled their latest single “Black Swan” from their upcoming album “Map Of The Soul : 7.”

The track seemingly has two versions. The album version is more modern in style whereas the MV version is classical in its approach – both versions are simply sublime to say the least.

(Source : Big Hit Labels)

The MV opens with the dancers taking their place and while the dancer transforms into the Swan, the shadows around him start lurking in, pretending to be his wings at first, but slowly taking over him and restricting and retaining him and controlling him like a puppet.

(Source : Big Hit Labels)

The MV makes several references to what BTS is trying to say especially when the dancer is trapped in a cage, trying to fly on his own but is unable to do so as his wings control him and he surrenders and flies while letting the wings dominate him which could be referral to BTS’ idea in their previous albums where they projected the wings as giving them flight/success but with “Interlude : Shadow” and “Black Swan” they show the dark side of this success as in “Interlude : Shadow,” Yoongi accepts his fears of the dark side of fame as he raps, “I’m afraid, flying high is terrifying..,” “don’t let me shine, don’t let me fly..”

(Source : Big Hit Labels)

Whilst in “Black Swan,” BTS shows the detrimental effects of that fame when the artist does not feel anything towards their creation and that, their art that made their hearts beat now seems just as a routine now.

BTS’ “Black Swan” is nothing short of being sheer art. There is a certain sense of vulnerability as expressed through the rhythm composed of gayageum, EP, bass synths and trap beats and the lyrics that express the deep rooted angst of an artist who fears losing their ability to resonate and express with their art which becomes their first death that is devastating than even actually dying because it would mean that they would’ve lost their purpose if they lose their passion as can be seen in some of the lyrics such as,

I been always afraid of if this can no longer resonate, no longer make my heart vibrate
Then like this may be how I die my first death.”

No song affects me anymore / Crying a silent cry.”

The ability to create is the purest form of self expression for any artist. And just like light creates shadow, BTS expresses the artist’s creativity as the light that fires their passion but also shows the fear of losing this light and the ability to feel or express through their art – a death worse than death itself as they descend into the shadows while slowly fading into oblivion in the darkness.

(Source : Big Hit Labels)

However, the narrative in the MV as well as the track changes when towards the end in the MV, the dancer frees himself from the cage and even though the shadows follow him, his demeanour changes and now, he fights back. Similarly, in the track itself, towards the end with lyrics such as,

“Slowly, I open my eyes
I’m in my workroom, it’s my studio
The waves go darkly by in a throe
But I’ll never get dragged away again
I saw myself, myself”

BTS come to a realisation here – they self reflect and see who they are and now, the roles are reversed as they control the shadows and not the other way around.

And just like the MV, they put up a fight and ultimately take flight and now the shadows themselves help them fly.

(Source : Big Hit Labels)

Black Swan” is pure poetry in motion.

This article is part of the “Let’s Talk K-Pop” series by SeoulPop.

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