Skip to main content

On the evening of Jan. 28, BTS appeared on The Late Late Show with James Corden. During the show, BTS performed their new single “Black Swan” for the first time. The performance showcased what sets BTS apart from other artists today, and gave a preview of what fans should expect from Map of the Soul: 7 and BTS’s upcoming tour.  

BTS Black Swan
BTS on ‘The Late Late Show with James Corden’ | Instagram

BTS radiated with talent during ‘Black Swan’

On Jan. 26, BTS made history as the first Korean act to perform at the Grammy Awards. The group took part in “Old Town Road All-Stars” with Billy Ray Cyrus, Lil Nas X, Diplo, and Mason Ramsey. For the medley, BTS performed “Seoul Town Road” with Lil Nas X and “Old Town Road” with all of the performers.

BTS’s brief appearance brought dynamic energy to the awards show. While the performance was a historic moment and a momentous accomplishment, it also acted as a reminder that the Recording Academy failed to properly recognize BTS this past year. 

Days later, “Black Swan” on The Late Late Show with James Corden once again proved that it’s the western music industry that is playing catch-up. With the elaborate set design, contemporary choreography, and live vocals, BTS performed a captivating story about their relationship with music. 

The song focuses on all seven members

BTS’s upcoming album is titled Map of the Soul: 7. The album makes it clear that first and foremost, BTS is a septet. The group first debuted seven years ago in 2013, and based on “Black Swan” the album will represent the members of BTS as individuals and a group.

BTS’s performance of “Black Swan” on The Late Late Show with James Corden was the first time fans saw the choreography for the new song. During the song, the members gracefully moved together in synchronization. However, every member of BTS had a chance to shine individually. At different times, each member broke out of formation or took a turn as center, leading the choreography.

Together and individually, they sang about the fear of no longer being able to perform their art, but affirming they want to continue with their passion despite that fear. With the choreography and lyrics, BTS asserted they are both one group and seven members simultaneously.

BTS’s performance of ‘Black Swan’ was haunting

On The Late Late Show with James Corden, BTS performed an intricate and eerie rendition of the song. The set resembled a forest from fairy tales after a hero takes a wrong turn. At the start of the song, the forest was dark. The only light came from the stage floor designed to look like a glowing pool of water and a waterfall.

Wearing all black, BTS danced while barefoot in the darkness until the eerie blue lights rose to reveal the group. As the song progressed, the lights occasionally flickered to resemble lighting. Other times, images darted through the background, making the forest appear enchanted.

As BTS danced, the projection on the stage glowed and reacted to their movements. The beauty of it created the feeling of magic, but with a tinge of darkness given the song’s serious message.

BTS revisited their past with the song

Even before BTS officially announced their comeback with Map of the Soul: 7, the group hinted the album would tie into their past. VCRs and performances at award shows alluded to how their past was directly related to their future.

The comeback trailer for “Interlude: Shadow” references BTS’s O!RUL8,2? EP from 2013. With “Black Swan,” BTS examine their commitment to their art through the song’s lyrics. The first performance of “Black Swan” took it a step further.

The choreography for “Black Swan” was expressive and contemporary, allowing BTS to tell a story. It matched the dark yet powerful mood of the song, and conveyed a reminiscent feeling as BTS explored their sense of self.

Choreography from BTS’s past songs, most noticeably “Fake Love,” was interspersed with the new contemporary dance moves. With the performance, BTS acknowledged their evolution as artists. They took what they learned over the past seven years and expanded on it.

“Black Swan” is only one piece of BTS’s story that will be told with Map of the Soul: 7. The Korean group’s professional and riveting performance proved the song can stand on its own. Yet it doesn’t have to, because the performance made it clear that something even more spectacular is just around the corner.