Superstar septet BTS has released “Black Swan” from their upcoming album Map of the Soul: 7, a haunting and heart-wrenchingly relatable track that doesn’t hold back any punches. The art film, featuring a contemporary piece performed by MN Dance Company, opens with a quote from dancer and choreographer Martha Graham:
“A dancer dies twice — once when they stop dancing,
and this first death is the more painful.”
There’s a moment.
There’s always a moment.
When a piece of you breaks away, it’s a distinct happening that sears into your memory.
Sometimes, it’s a loud shattering from the inside out as what you love bursts free in a fit of rage. It can leave you in tatters so messy that the mere thought of returning to it anytime soon has the potential to break you all over again.
Sometimes, it’s a quiet ache in the form of a friend turning to you, saying, “I noticed you don’t sing anymore…” — and it hurts all the more because you hadn’t noticed it yourself. You should have noticed it first.
Sometimes it’s nothing. It just… ends.
And sometimes you have to ask yourself:
…did I ever know what IT was at all?
“Black Swan” explores the fear of losing your passion, or possibly never having it in the first place, no matter how hard you fight to hold it close. The feeling is equated to a slow death as you struggle to reach out for the person you were when the fire was coursing through your veins, igniting your existence. In a display of tough love, the lyrics don’t leave much to the imagination:
Nothing can devour me
I shout out with ferocity
Ocean with all light silenced shut, yeah yeah yeah
My wandering feet held in a rut, yeah yeah yeah
Every noise and sound’s been cut, yeah yeah yeah
Killin’ me now
Killin’ me now
Do you hear me, yeah
They’re set against an ominous trap beat, the words sung as if they come from a mirror telling you the truth about yourself without sugar to lighten the blow.
That said, the song is still oddly cathartic. Painful as hell, yes; but once you breathe through it there’s the feeling of, well… being seen. These are feelings people usually keep hidden, afraid to speak them aloud because the utterance could cause those very fears to come true and kick-start an unraveling.
Who am I if this goes away right now?
Does it all die with me?
There’s an undertone of scrambling preservation illustrated beautifully by the MN Dance Company. They carry their bodies along an orchestral version of the track in a demonstration of grace and flexibility. Showing a fight against darkness, the dance ultimately cultivates in a synchronization that mimics acceptance over being swallowed whole. It’s similar to a theme seen in the comeback trailer, “Interlude: Shadow,” the tandem partnership of light and dark — the union that makes us all human.
BTS will unveil the first performance of “Black Swan” live on The Late Late Show with James Corden on January 28. Map of the Soul: 7 hits shelves February 21, 2020.