Aanchal Tekriwal, Godda, Jharkhand
“A dancer dies twice – once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful.”
– Martha Graham.
The quote recites the essence of this song exquisitely. Black Swan is a song by the world-famous boy band, BTS, from their album “Map Of The Soul: 7”, which was released on 17th January 2020. The song is written by Pdogg, RM, August Rigo, Vince Nantes, and Clyde Kelly and is produced by the same. Black Swan has become the first-ever song by an Asian act that has topped the iTunes charts in a total number of 103 countries. The song is about an artist’s passion of being fraught with a fear to die out and a struggle to hold onto it. My heart ached with an indescribable pain after listening to this song, recalling the fear of losing my love and passion for dance.
The song is hauntingly beautiful and deep. I loved the masterful use of layering to elicit an impression of voices, overlapping into one to convey a unified message. BTS’s identity is only found through all 7 members. The lo-fi guitar, the cello, and the violin create such a doleful piercing through soul melody. The way the melodies blend so beautifully captures that feeling of the edge. The song also has two music videos, including an ‘Art Film’ featuring an interpretative dance performance by Slovenian-based modern dance troupe MN Dance Company and the alluring breathtaking music video featuring BTS. RM, also the leader of BTS said, “I felt something desperate in the process of transforming from Odette (the white swan) to Odile (the black swan), I could see all those conflicts and emotions” in his VLIVE while talking about the behind story of this song.
In this song, BTS steps deep into the inner side of the self and faces the shadow. Expressing their deep fear and depression and realizing they can’t rely on anyone but themselves to put them out of the darkest depths. A bottomless chasm where you let your shadows overtake you, your passion seems lost where no song, no abstract, no painting, no melodies could excite you now the same way it used to. Losing your motivation is disheartening, even more so when you cannot create art. It’s like an artist’s first death when they stop creating their art. This is a conflict between their persona and shadow, the two individualistic traits residing within them. They express their feelings in a detailed way throughout the whole song. With the clever use of shadow play and styling, the song is a reign of artistry.
The intro of the song has been repeated thrice throughout the song which is more profound than it seems. In the first and second verses, it shows an expression of mental conflict with the inner desire of their heart as if they are scared of how music no longer resonates with them the same way it used to and how this will be their first death as the lyrics go, “Oh that would be my first death/I have always been afraid of.” They have shown their fear of losing their pure passion and love for music in such a meticulous way. The chorus part of the song conveyed their emotions asserting that they are feeling like they are in hypnosis as if they are being drawn into something unknown; it’s been a hard struggle between their persona and shadow. Every moment, even the moment when they are struggling at the bottom of the sea, becomes eternity because it is being filmed.
My favorite part of the song is Verse 3. As they go deeper and deeper into their minds, they get more frightened about losing their focus on music. As much as the darkness elevates them, and holds them in an almost worshipping manner; this is also the same thing that pushes them down to the ground. They don’t want their shadow to carry them, or drag them, they want to stand on their own feet. And in the depth, they find their true self as the lyrics go, “Let my own feet carry me/I’ll go in myself/In the deepest depth I saw myself”.
What excited me more about this verse was the Art Film, where the main dancer finally escapes the cage surrounded by the lasers. BTS ends up their song with a soothing and divine beautiful awe when the shadow had the black swan confined in the first half, transforms itself into the force that sets the dancer free helping him fly. They conveyed the confession in-depth as an artist who have truly realised what music means to them through mature and autobiographical lyrics. This made me remember how Black Swan is the true testament to this particular comment, “BTS deconstructed the boy-band genre and turned it into an art form.”
Do you love Black Swan as much as I do? What is your favorite part of the song? Do let us know in the comment section below!