The confession of an Artist: “Black Swan” by BTS

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

This quote served as an introduction to the Art Film that marked the release of the single Black Swan, which showcased a beautiful and touching performance by the contemporary dancers of “MN Dance Company.” After seven years of working together as a group, BTS released their most personal album titled Map of the Soul: 7 (released worldwide on February 21st, 2020), a very fitting name considering the lyrical content of the first single. This track is filled with honesty and sincerity, as it gives a voice to the member’s worries and hidden feelings. On its own, the song puts forward its message in a very direct manner, yet it is the dance routine that truly emphasizes the journey all of them have gone through as artists. There is a clear distinction from the upbeat Boy with Luv from 2019, making this a very deliberate shift in their mindset.

BTS ‘Black Swan’ Art Film performed by MN Dance Company, released January 17th, 2020.

There are two versions of this track (the orchestral version seen in the Art Film and a more trap-based studio version), yet both carry the same haunting and melancholic vibe throughout. The lyrics on their own may be one of the most relevant aspects to put forward since the words are even more impactful when read separately from the melody. The imagery it conveys and the feelings it evokes truly makes Black Swan stand out as one of the greatest songs released by the South Korean group. The opening quote introduces us to the theme of the song by conveying their deepest fear: that one day the music they make will no longer resonate with them.

If this can no longer resonate

No longer make my heart vibrate

Maybe this will be how

I die my first death

But what if that moment’s right now

The lyrics reflect their history with music, making it a reflection of that same journey. There is an initial fear of the future, which implies several intricacies that have caused it. But as they face their feelings, there is a transition from feeling lost to feeling certain about their path and their choices. In the first half of the song, we sense the fear and apprehension caused by the idea of their passion fading. Yet, in the second half, we see them finding the strength to stand up again and fight against this fear since the love for their art has no end.

It is by reflecting and understanding those feelings that they find their path: by facing their inner Black Swan, they conclude that music is all they have.

Nothing can devour me

I shout out with ferocity

The same way a dancer goes through their first death once they stop dancing, there is always a fear of reaching a moment where music no longer touches their hearts. BTS chose to be sincere and genuine with their emotions. This track focuses on their self-reflection and how their struggles, doubts, and fears lead them towards a final answer: the love for their art will never disappear. Black Swan is a confession of a group of artists that have truly reflected on their personal and collective journey and how much music means to them.

BTS, ‘Black Swan’ Official MV, released March 4th, 2020.

*Lyric Translation from Genius.

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2 thoughts on “The confession of an Artist: “Black Swan” by BTS

  1. Beautiful review on how touching and powerful “Black Swan” is. Your writing is truly engaging and it makes us want to read more. Looking forward for your next article.

    Liked by 1 person

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