The Korean pop sensation group BTS is getting ready to conquer 2020 with a brand new album ‘MAP OF THE SOUL: 7.’ The first single off the album was released on January 17, 2020, by the name “Black Swan.” Let us explore the translation of the English lyrics of the song and its meaning.
BTS released their sixth studio album ‘MAP OF THE SOUL: PERSONA‘ in April 2019, and are hitting back with the seventh edition of their discography. The upcoming album will also be a reflection on the intricacies of life; just like what this new song teaches us.
“Black Swan” is a bilingual track, as most of their songs are. The song builds around the quote by Martha Graham: “A dancer dies twice – once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful.” In the song, we hear about the life of a dancer who dances no more. A ‘black swan’ is often considered a curse and misfortune in literature since black is a colour of dark, gloom, anger and death. However, on the flip side of the coin is that ‘black swans’ are a rarity and thus could be considered unique and precious.
BTS released an official music video for the single featuring a haunting choreography by the MN Dance Company.
Watch “Black Swan” Dance-Video by BTS
Jungkook gives an intro to the track. In these lyrics, the singer repeats several lines to drive a point. At this time of the song, the audience has no idea about the theme of the song. But they only hear Jungkook inspiring them to be unique, don’ be afraid to be unique and use this uniqueness to conquer the world.
Suga of BTS comes on the second verse of the song to provide some context. In these lyrics, Suga narrates a story of a person who has lost his youthful exuberance. The heart has become slower and consistent. It no longer jumps upon hearing a musical note. Is he a singer? a composer?
Whoever he is, he is going through his first death–the death of his passion. This directly references to the popular quote by the iconic dance choreographer Martha Graham, which we have stated above. This death is not unique to dancers. It is the common law of nature for anyone who develops their physical skills as a passion. When the body grows old and bones don’t move the way they used to, one has to endure their first death. This is often more painful as they give up the best part of them forever.
RM performs the second verse of “Black Swan.” In this verse, the singer explains how an artist first realizes that it is now time to give up his passion. He will try to push for more. But he will realize that he no longer has the ability to operate at his best when the brush strokes become forced, when the guitar strings feel too strong, when you feel the weight of the violin bow and when your moves aren’t as swift.
V and Jimin take us into the thoughts of this retiring ballerina in this verse. She feels the heartbeat slowing down inside her. It does not jump upon hearing the music that used to make her electric. The artist yells out in silence.
Watch “Black Swan” Official Music Video by BTS
The chorus of the song makes us wonder if BTS is singing about themselves as a group in “Black Swan.” The Korean pop group BTS did beat the odds. They came from a Korean music background which had little to no place in the international music arena-they were the black swans. But they used this uniqueness to their advantage. They fused Korean and English and their looks and talent to become a dominating musical force in the world.
However, even BTS will have to surrender to nature eventually. Even the black swan will have to rest his final rest someday.
The vast ocean, filled with beauty and life, is not visible in the darkness. Only light reveals its true beauty and splendour. Like so, success without happiness is a very dull affair. Even when your “wandering feet held in a rut,” it is always necessary to have a positive light on your life so that you spend the rest of your days in happiness.
J-Hope sings about reigniting hope in this drowning ballerina. He narrates a point in this ballerina’s life where she decides that darkness and despair are not going to define the rest of her days. She will not let her dark thought carry towards her end. Rather, she would let her own two feet carry her to the end. This represents renewed hope and a turning point in the life of the dancer.
Suga returns for the final verse of the song. In these lyrics, he sings about the ballerina literally getting up to her feet and walking to her dance studio. Maybe one last dance to prove herself that she is not all lost within. Although the world may close the doors on her, she sees herself inside her and that is more than what anyone could ask for. Her passion is reignited.
The second pre-chorus of the song is the exact opposite of the first. Jungkook and Jin team up to vocalize how this ballerina recollects herself to do one more dance. The dancer’s heartbeat is racing and her eyes wide open. She has a goal and her memories and will power fuel her weak physique. Her mental faculties take over the physical faculties. She shouts in youthful energy once more: “nothing can devour me.”
BTS’ “Black Swan” perfectly illustrates the mentality of an ageing artist. This is why the album is titled ‘MAP OF THE SOUL’ as it delves and dissects human soul.
Let us hear what you think about “Black Swan” and what it means to you in the comments below.