Music Review: BTS Black Swan

Many involved in the arts know the fear of losing their passion- it nestles deep inside an artist’s heart. The dreadful day when they pick up an instrument or a paint brush and no longer feel the creativity pulsing through them is inevitable.

BTS, a seven member boy group from South Korea, managed to encompass an artist’s darkest fear within their song “Black Swan.”

Released on January 17th 2020, “Black Swan” is a song about the band’s fear of the day when music ceases to move them.

At the time, BTS were dominating the charts and quickly growing to be one of the biggest bands in the US. They sold out multiple stadiums within hours worldwide, and broke monumental records everyday.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons they were adored is because of their honesty within the messages of their songs. As they mostly sing in Korean, their native language, with every release, dozens of translators quickly get to work with transcribing the lyrics into other languages.

The meaning of Black Swan resonated in the hearts of people all over the world, as it put feelings of ice-cold dread into words.The band begins the song with the lyrics, “The heart does not beat anymore, when listening to music. It feels like time has stopped. Oh that would be my first death.”

The heart does not beat anymore, when listening to music. It feels like time has stopped”

Throughout the song, they discuss the “black swan” within them. This black swan is the constant, underlying thoughts of the day when performance no longer touches them, and their career feels more like a job than an art.

The pain is absolutely excruciating, and BTS encompassed the feeling perfectly within the lyrics of their song.

Along with lyrics that strike the heart of performers, the band also used incredible symbolism. One example of this is the phrase, “Sea where all the light sinks into silence yeah, yeah, yeah,” BTS has used the metaphor of the sea many times in their music. In this instance, they are discussing how an individual can sink to the bottom of the sea, surrounded by only darkness and their shadow.

Throughout the song, different melodies and harmonies are intermingled with each other. Strings and other classical instruments are used to create a feeling of melancholy.

The instruments build up to the chorus, where there is an explosion of music, almost like a swan flying free. Then it slowly dies down, as if the swan was dragged back down from it’s freedom.

Within this instance, the instrumental is symbolizing an artist escaping the clutches of fear, only to be confined back down by their doubt and guilt.

A photo of BTS from the music video of Black Swan. It was filled in a ball room to match the classical theme of the song. (BTS)

The music video for the song incorporates dancers, one of which is portraying a black swan. Throughout the video, the other dancers constantly hold back the “black swan” from flying, pulling him back whenever he tries to spread his wings.

With the strong vocals, beautiful instrumental, and captivating dancers, Black Swan managed to quickly become one of the most incredible songs ever released by the boyband.

Many people have and continue to interpret the song, finding new wordplay and hidden metaphors each time. The song also sparked conversation amongst individuals about their former hobbies that they lost passion for.

It reminds me to hold my passions close and not lose the joy I find in them. I might be tempted to turn my passions purely into profit, but I must remember the reason I love them in the first place.

Black Swan continues to prove that music transcends languages, and that music can encompass our happiest days to our darkest fears.