Skip to main content

The first single from Map of the Soul: 7 is officially here. On Jan. 17, BTS released “Black Swan” with an accompanying art film performed by MN Dance Company. Emotional and powerful, “Black Swan” is art personified by BTS that captures the fear and dedication performers feel from their commitment to their art.

BTS Black Swan
BTS | Noam Galai/Getty Images

BTS announced their public art project before the new single

From its inception, the rollout for Map of the Soul: 7 has been different. It’s clear with this comeback album BTS and Big Hit Entertainment are not following any guidebook or rules. The Korean artists and agency are forging their own path and releasing music the way they want it to be heard.

Days before BTS released “Black Swan,” the group announced “BTS, Connect,” a global public art initiative. The new venture is part of the unveiling for Map of the Soul: 7, showing just how BTS differs from artists of their caliber.

“Connect, BTS” is an unprecedented and ambitious initiative that launched on Jan. 14. With the initiative, BTS worked with art curators around the world to showcase 22 artists at different exhibits in London, New York, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Seoul. By giving other artists the spotlight and making art accessible to the public, the project demonstrated just how dedicated the members of BTS are to the arts.

BTS did not release any information about ‘Black Swan’

Going into the release of “Black Swan,” the general public was in the dark. Fans did not even know the name of the song. Instead, they only knew the release date and that an art film by MN Dance Company would also be released.

According to Big Hit Entertainment, the song received little promotion on purpose.

“We believe this was the best way for people to wholly appreciate the content once it went out to the public. They will know once they listen to the song (title) and then see the art film,” reads a fan translation of the agency’s message.

This method shows BTS and Big Hit Entertainment’s confidence with the music from Map of the Soul: 7. It also shows sincerity in the music they created. By releasing “Black Swan” with no promotion and an art film, the focus is put on the music itself.

“Black Swan” being the first single from the album makes even more sense when tied into “Connect, BTS.” As “Black Swan” reflects on BTS’s fear of one day no longer being able to perform their art, the musicians are currently promoting art around the world.

There are two different versions of the song

On Jan. 17, BTS released two different versions of “Black Swan,” a studio version and a classical version. The art film with MN Dance Company features the classical version and further accentuates the central message of the song. Both RM of BTS and Pdogg of Big Hit Entertainment are credited with the production of “Black Swan.”

The film opens with a quote from Martha Graham, “a dancer dies twice — once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful.” Following the quote, seven dancers dance to the violin orchestration and lyrics. The choreography from the dancers matches the ferocity and rawness of “Black Swan,” creating an intense yet eerie piece of artwork.

The lyrics explore BTS’s fear

With the trap beat production, the members of BTS reflect on their passion for their music. At several times during the song, all seven members sing together, their voices overlaid. Like the song’s cover art, this communicates that BTS is seven and one at the same time.

“Ocean with all light silenced shut yeah yeah yeah / My wandering feet held in a rut yeah yeah yeah,” the group sings at once. “Every noise and sound’s been cut yeah yeah yeah / Killin’ me now / Killin’ me now / Do you hear me yeah.”

The lyrics also tie into Graham’s quote from the beginning of the art film.

“The heart no longer races / When hearing the music play,” says Suga. “Seems like time has stopped / Oh that would be my first death / I been always afraid of.”

RM continues that fear, “If this can no longer resonate / No longer make my heart vibrate / Then like this may be how I die my first death.”

While BTS examine how they fear their first death as performers with “Black Swan,” the members also realize they only have music. In a sad yet beautiful way, BTS acknowledge their fear but vow to continue with their music anyway.

‘Black Swan’ by BTS is pure art

For months, BTS teased fans that their album would surpass expectations. Based on “Black Swan,” it’s clear to see why. The song is an insightful and reflective journey from artists at the top of their game. With “Black Swan,” BTS explores what their music, their art, means to them. In doing so, BTS created their own art.

Because of BTS’s artistry, “Black Swan” is not just a song, it’s an experience. The Korean group invites listeners to get a glimpse at their own musical journey. It’s also clear the amount of hard work BTS have put into this upcoming album. With Map of the Soul: 7, fans should expect an introspective look at BTS’s journey as artists.