The forever mid-tier girl group Rainbow returned earlier today with the moody Black Swan. Rainbow has consistently failed to achieve in terms of sales despite nearly always putting out interesting music. From the beautiful collaborations with Japanese producer Daishi Dance on To Me and Sweet Dream to the perfect duo mini albums Rainbow Syndrome parts one and two, they have excelled in many different styles. For Black Swan Rainbow leave behind the cutesy image to adopt an edgy, sexy concept that fits them well.
They also sound like they have left behind recent trends in sounds too, as Black Swan sounds like it came from the 2008-2010 era of K-pop. The lowkey electro pop has been replaced by crashing synths recently so it’s refreshing to hear something different. Especially since this song is weirder than one listen might make it seem.
The lyrics are an interpretation of the story of Swan Lake, focusing on the Black Swan. It’s about a woman who doesn’t know who she is anymore. Like in Swan Lake, she is fearful of who she is or might become. She ultimately finds herself again with the help of someone to tell her it’s all a bad dream.
While this idea of what we can assume is a man saving her is derivative and sexist, the ending of the song is interesting. Instead of a happy ending it feels more like the woman is telling herself a lie in order to feel better and more assured in herself, which is something I’m sure that we’ve all done in times of hardship. It offers a story that K-pop doesn’t give us often, and that is immediately interesting.
Also on KultScene: MYNAME’s ‘Too Very So Much’ Music Video & Song Review
The music fits with this in a simple but effective way. The stripped back production of stabbing yet sparse synths in the verse feels like monochrome in audio form. It picks it up a notch for the chorus and second verse but always stays simple, apart from Woori’s rap which has a little dubstep kick. This works well enough as lyrically the song gets more intense at this part, but I personally think it would have worked better had Woori rapped in a slightly lower register. I usually love her high pitched raps but here it’s jarring to a fault.
Woori’s rap and the structure of Black Swan are what bring this song into a kind of weirdness. The first chorus transitions seamlessly into a post-chorus/second verse making it feel like the chorus never ended. It creates a good energy out of lowkey music while always throwing out new parts. I especially love the part after Woori’s rap where it slows back down so we expect the drop of another chorus. It holds, however, for another short chorus before moving to the climax.
The video features some of K-pop’s favourite dancing in a box intercut with cool visuals. This works well, as it uses a monochrome concept to go with the song’s meaning. The music video makes use of mirrors and black and white paint in some interesting ways too. The girls each have a white and black look, pulling off both with ease. This fierce but not outright sexy look really suits them and this is the best they’ve ever looked.
All gifs via femaleidol.
Hopefully with a bigger push from DSP, Black Swan can be the song that brings Rainbow to a level they deserve to be at. The song is great and the mini-album Innocent is perfect as a whole. Also, if it wasn’t for the video I would have thought this was just a Hyunyoung, Jaekyung, Woori track. That is a very good thing in my books.