The clip explores the idea of the death of an artist with references to the group’s previous releases and the 2010 Oscar-winning film ‘Black Swan’
South Korean group BTS shocked fans earlier this evening by dropping a brand new music video for the single “Black Swan” off their groundbreaking new studio album Map of the Soul: 7. While every previous release had followed a comeback schedule shared by the group’s label Big Hit Entertainment, the new video came as a pleasant surprise. Fans expressed their joy and excitement on social media with #BlackSwan trending globally within minutes of the video’s release.
In a visual echo of the track’s lyrics, the video for “Black Swan” explores the idea of the artist death aka the moment an artist can no longer perform. It’s a devastating and inevitable transition in any artist’s life and BTS tackle this fear head-on. The clip features stunning shots of the group performing the track’s choreography in the ornate, gilded Los Angeles Theatre. Trained in contemporary dance and ballet, vocalist Jimin takes the lead as he leaps gracefully from one smooth dance move to another. At first the group are dressed in white but within moments are clad in black as they transform from sweet and demure white swans into the bold, confident and dangerous black swans–a direct nod to the 2010 Natalie Portman starrer of the same name. As the clip progresses, the parallels to the film Black Swan and Portman’s character Nina become more distinct; Jimin sprouts a gorgeous pair of black wings onstage and Jin has an encounter with his seemingly sentient reflection in the mirrors–both of which reference iconic scenes from the film.
The video also plays with light and darkness to show the members ‘confronting’ their shadows and eventually descending into darkness as they hone their craft. At times the shadows are complete entities of their own, sentient and no longer moving in tandem with their owners. It’s an eerie but beautiful video, conceptualised with the intent to both scare and enthral the audience.
There are callbacks to the group’s own WINGS album from 2016 (“Blood Sweat & Tears” and the Wings Tour Trailer) as well as motifs that build on BTS’ current exploration of the human psyche via psychologist Carl Jung’s works (The Red Book, Visions Seminar, Memories, Dreams, Reflections and more.) The film Black Swan is also deeply connected to the Jung’s theories–Nina descends into the shadows of her own mind, to embrace her ego and become the Black Swan. The video is a careful tableau of the sacrifices it takes to become an artist and what parts of yourself you lose in the process. It’s the process of confronting the darkest depths of your soul and mind to emerge as a stronger, whole individual. Light cannot exist without darkness.
BTS will embark on their ‘Map Of The Soul’ tour in Santa Clara on April 25th. While the tour was originally set to begin earlier in April with four dates at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium, the shows were cancelled due to concerns around the spread of the coronavirus in South Korea.