I consider myself a fairly big Rainbow fan, having loved every single they’ve put out since “A” (with the exception of “Hoi Hoi,” obviously). Their latest, “Black Swan,” is more left-field than I expected from them, but it was instant love from the first spin.
The synth-driven, twisted disco number sounds off-kilter and weird, much like a mash-up of two completely different songs. It’s hypnotic and captivating (that transition into the second verse, those funky guitar strings), but it never quite fits together perfectly, which is why it works so well. Without feeling a little unhinged, it could just turn into another Korean electro-pop song.
Lyrically, I’m going to say that the underrated and trendsetting STELLAR inspired “Black Swan.” Just like in “Marionette” and “Mask,” the lyrics here read like the group’s personal struggle for fame and acceptance wrapped up in a relationship metaphor. (And let’s face it: there’s no group better to sing about being struggling flops than Rainbow.)
Rainbow have their fair share of inventive, creative pop in their discography, from the life-changing “Mach” to the sexy “Cha Cha” to a handful of their Rainbow Syndrome tracks, so “Black Swan” isn’t totally out of the blue for them. With that said, who in their right mind at DSP Media actually thought that it would EVER be a hit? It’s a winter concept at the start of spring! It’s sexy when everyone has moved back to fresh and innocent (a style Rainbow slayed with “Sunshine”). All the comments I’ve seen online just call it “too weird,” which is the expected response from narrow-minded K-pop fans.
No wonder it fell out of the Melon top 100 in less than a week.
Thankfully, for the deaf fools that aren’t too crazy about the title track, there’s a lot of other good stuff on Rainbow’s Innocent mini-album to get into. “Pierrot” sounds like Major Lazer doing radio-ready euro-pop in the best way possible, while opener “Bad Man Crying” is equally sombre and dramatic in all the right spots. The sexual funk of “Privacy” is probably my favourite though, but really, every single track is great.
By the way, can we talk about the “Black Swan” choreography? It’s SISTAR’s “Alone” butt wiggle meets Dal Shabet’s rapey “Be Ambitious” skirt lifting–and that makes it perfection!
Also, for the record, both “Cha Cha” and “Black Swan” should’ve been Jaekyung solos. (Or at the very least, a Rainbow19 unit with Woori playing Bora.) It’s so obvious that she’s meant to be one of K-pop’s top sexy girl group soloists like Hyosung, HyunA, and Ga-In, but Rainbow’s been managed so badly over the years that it just never happened.
Oh, what could have been…