BTS broke another record yesterday. Their song “Black Swan” went to #1 on iTunes in its 103rd country, the most of any song in history, beating the record that Adele previously held for five years with “Hello”.
“Black Swan” came out in January, ahead of the release of Map of the Soul: 7, the 7-member band’s 7th album, after 7 years together. (Tomorrow is 7/7/7 and many ARMYs are wondering whether or not there might be a special drop.) It is widely acknowledged to be one of the most successful albums of 2020 so far. Which is why ARMY is already thinking about the Grammys. And I know that seems far away, and there’s still so much uncertainty about what the major award shows even look like (the Emmys might give us some indication), but today is actually the deadline for the first stage of the online nomination process and the eligibility period for Grammys 2019/20 ends at the end of August so these conversations aren’t happening out of nowhere. Back in June, though, Billboard put out a list of early Grammys predictions and, well, predictably, BTS did not make the list even though they now own the most successful song of all time on iTunes.
How many of you are familiar with “Black Swan”?
“Black Swan” was inspired by a Martha Graham quote:
"A dancer dies twice — once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful."
The song is about the artist’s greatest fear: losing passion for the work, when they can no longer find the fire to create. If and when this happens, for an artist, while you may still be breathing, technically alive, the soul is no longer present.
That’s the thing that so many people who don’t get BTS don’t actually know: that they are all about the work, they are always, always working. They’re writing music and lyrics, they’re arranging music, they’re producing, they’re already putting together a new album. And all this on top of the dance practices and their reality shows and their endorsements – the BTS model is constant output, even during a pandemic. But will that ever be enough to overcome how misunderstood they are by the westernised institutions, upheld by the westernised stereotypes, that they’re trying to conquer?
BTS and their ARMY were appreciated a few weeks ago for disrupting racists, for punking Donald Trump, but will they be accepted by their own artistic community, a community that claims its truly global… but is it?
As for “Black Swan”, for those of you who might be meeting the song for the first time today – because I know you’re out there, I know you’ve been trying to ignore my constant BTS nagging – here’s the video, which is a showcase for Jimin and his beautifully expressive dance skills. As I’ve said before, while my BTS bias is Jungkook, I love them all. And I adore Jimin, not only because he’s electrifying onstage, but because his voice is so unique. It doesn’t stand out necessarily in “Black Swan” but once you get more familiar with the BTS catalogue, you can’t miss his distinctive tone. Or his style, both as a performer and also when he’s offstage.
Please appreciate Jimin casually making his way through the airport with his Chanel Gabrielle worn on both shoulders:
Jimin’s fit is always impeccable.
Yours in gossip,