After nearly two years away from the K-pop scene, Rainbow returned with an unexpectedly dark and sultry concept for new single “Black Swan” with lyrics and a concept based loosely around the film starring Natalie Portman.
The track opens with lonesome synths and a subtle shuffle beat as the girls sing about witnessing a change within themselves. Translated lyrics like, “The reflection in the foggy mirror is not me / Who is it?” and “Trapped inside the red eyes / Dazzling and free” best encapsulate the film before the song ends with member Woori whispering, “It’s perfect” — nearly the exact line with which Portman ended her Oscar-winning performance.
While the lyrics are remarkable, the most impressive part of “Black Swan” might be its arrangement. The quiet opening slips into the slinky, repetitive chorus that’s stuffed with squiggly, old-school disco synths. A hook-heavy section that presents itself as a powerful post-chorus, while actually acting as a second verse (and the best part of the song), follows before returning back to the chorus. The bridge and middle eight at first sound at risk for a played-out dubstep beat, but instead boil up to a climax belt from Hyunyoung.
Black Swan‘s psychological-thriller theme is further felt in the accompanying music video; a dark, somewhat-creepy video that sees the members finding themselves terrified by the women they see themselves turning into.
Concept-wise, “Black Swan” is a huge departure from the group’s last single, the cutesy-silly “Sunshine,” which hit No. 8 on the K-Pop Hot 100 in mid-2013. But in comparison to Rainbow Blaxx, the sexy, sometimes-controversial splinter group of Rainbow that debuted last year, it feels like a natural progression. Despite their colorful name, Rainbow appears to turning into the darker, sultrier female act under DSP Media that represents bubbly, electro-pop quartet Kara and has announced plans to introduce a young, new girl group later this year.