New Releases

BTS' "Black Swan" Is the Song that Keeps On Giving

The new "Black Swan" music video is incredible.

Big Hit

It's no secret that "Black Swan"—not to mention BTS' entire new album, Map of the Soul: 7—is a genuine masterpiece.

Up until today, most people assumed that the "Black Swan" Art Film performed by MN Dance Company, wherein the professional dance troupe performs a bleak, gripping, interpretive dance to the song in an abandoned mall, served as the song's only official music video. While it didn't feature the BTS boys themselves, it did a wonderful job conveying the conflicted emotion of "Black Swan" through dance.

But in line with the Jungian themes that inspired Map of the Soul: 7, no one can ever be fully understood through a single lens or interpretation. Thus, BTS has surprise-dropped a new "Black Swan" music video, this time featuring their own dancing. Conceptually, releasing multiple music videos for a Jungian-inspired song is a stroke of pure brilliance. And practically...yeah, this new "Black Swan" music video is absolutely incredible.

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Throughout the new video, BTS alternates between white suits and black suits as a physical manifestation of the dualities between their public personas vs. their personal artistic passions. At various point, while dancing on the stage of an empty majestic theater, their shadows move separately with a mind of their own. As with all of BTS' best work, the new "Black Swan" music video exists in a space beyond words. By blending jarring visuals with passionate dance, BTS does real justice to the complex psychological concepts behind their music.

Through whatever personal and artistic struggles that led up to Map of the Soul: 7, BTS has come out on the other side stronger than ever.

MUSIC

Who Is "Miss Anthropocene"?

Grimes's newest album is apocalyptic zombie pop, filled with dreams of destruction.

At one point on Grimes' "4AEM," you hear something that sounds like a million little ghostly Internet children popping up from the digital world and laughing hysterically.

Grimes has always been an expert at using her childlike voice to her advantage—she rips into the delusion of youthful innocence and femininity and turns it into something thoroughly haunted, all the more so because of how pure it sounds.

Her latest album, Miss Anthropocene, is the sound of young things fracturing, of womanhood splitting into pieces, of the earth burning, the soil blackening. It sounds like a world on the edge of collapse while people lose themselves on their cell phones, playing Candy Crush and only occasionally allowing themselves to dive into the fires of true emotion and horror, which usually manifest as strands of smoke, curling between the cracks of the surreal reality we're living in.

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All this and more is built into Grimes' fifth album, which she has said is mostly about climate change. "People don't care about [climate change] because we're being guilted," she said. "I see the polar bear and want to kill myself. No one wants to look at it, you know? I want to make a reason to look at it. I want to make it beautiful."

Grimes' approach is refreshingly different from many popular climate change narratives, which are often built on guilt, faceless numbers, fear, problematic ideals of purity, and sometimes, relentless, exhausting optimism. Climate change became associated with guilt around the time that big green corporations—often seeded by dark money that had roots in oil corporations—began selling the idea that by reducing our own waste and having fewer children, we could solve the environmental crisis. Often this was a way of lifting blame from major corporations and structural forces, shifting it over to individual people and, more often than not, poor people and members of third-world nations who produce much less waste than the wealthiest 1%.

On Miss Anthropocene, Grimes plays with alter egos as well as genres. Some of the songs are chaotic and super-charged with electricity, like the Teslas and various futuristic projects of her boyfriend and the father of her future child, Elon Musk. "Darkseid" is a hyperactive, lush ballad that features the rapper Pan; it's campy in the way that Art Angels was, but with even more depth. "Violence" has a sadistic beat and a sense of dark ecstasy that feels designed for late-night parties and bad decisions.

Some of the songs are more subdued. Grimes is capable of producing the maximalist, sweeping, glossy sound that's come to characterize the typical alt-pop star in 2020. Songs like "New Gods" are filled with the whispery, gooey sadness that's become the signature sound of artists like Billie Eilish and Lorde, but "New Gods" is more powerful and less vulnerable than either of the aforementioned two artists allow themselves to be.

On the slower (and arguably strongest) songs—"Delete Forever" and "Before the Fever"—Grimes plucks from pop music's classic bag of tricks at will, imitating cliches, pulling from punk-rock grittiness and familiar chord progressions while constantly ripping the ground out from under her listener. These songs collapse into swirling tornadoes of synths and glitchy screams, while Grimes's vocals rise high above the violent soundscapes. It's all impressionistic and desolate and yet somehow, fiercely, blisteringly alive.

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Who Is Miss Anthropocene?

Freud believed that every person is motivated by a death drive, which pulls us towards annihilation and destruction and exists in constant competition with a drive towards life, creation, and propagation. Both impulses exist in glitchy competition on Miss Anthropocene, an album that explores the destruction of the planet and human spirit and yet refuses to surrender to either. Instead, it lives inside destruction and thereby creates new life within it.

Grimes accompanied the album's release with an ominous poem. "I, Poet of Destruction: Hereby declare that global warming is good," she wrote on Twitter. "So, you humans have carved your existence into the Earth. Lest you be forgotten. Why lament. Be who you are. Embrace your demise. For you are the architect of it. How smart you are to eradicate a species as resilient as your own. Why deny your power. It's the greatest show in the Universe. Celebrate with me. The most momentous of deaths. Now is the time to burn twice as bright and half as long. Sincerely, Miss Anthropocene." (At the bottom of the paper was a Shutterstock logo. When a Twitter fan addressed this, Grimes replied: "Haha oops.")

In its final form, as Laura Snapes writes for The Guardian, the character of Miss Anthropocene "represents humanity's justification for its self-destruction, which goes beyond the death wish of the climate crisis to dwell uncomfortably in more intimate forms of self-annihilation: addiction, self-loathing and the internet."

With Miss Anthropocene, Grimes seems to be embracing the kind of thought process put forth by the Dark Mountain Project, an environmental anti-movement of sorts. Focused on abandoning hopes of maintaining the status quo, the Dark Mountain Project and its followers find redemptive possibilities in apocalypse. Modernity is "the story of an empire corroding from within," according to one of the early paragraphs of the movement's manifesto. "It is the story of a people who believed, for a long time, that their actions did not have consequences. It is the story of how people will cope with the crumbling of their own myth. It is our story."

The manifesto concludes with several slightly more inspiring principles—many of which focus on the potential inherent in art and the practice of non-anthropocentric creativity. "Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world," reads the first of its eight final steps. "The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us," it finishes.

Though she's no activist, at least Grimes is trying to think about climate change in different and unique ways; like the Dark Mountain Manifesto's followers, she's using reverse psychology, playing into the human death drive, collapsing it into something creative. The result is often inspired, sometimes overwhelming, sometimes hollow, and always dark. But maybe—in contrast to all this light pollution, all this brilliance from fireworks and computer screen glow and bombs—a little dark's what we need.

What The Future Holds

Grimes isn't exactly a radical—she's dating one of the richest members of that 1%, after all—but in some way, Miss Anthropocene addresses some of the larger forces that contribute to the climate crisis and make solving it so damn difficult. The climate crisis is inextricably entangled with late capitalism, racism, sexism, and many other forces built on the subjugation of the presumably powerless. These forces that can be quieted by the Internet and opioids and many of the other addictive trappings of modernity, all of which distract us and help grow our disconnect from each other while relying on capitalism to fill the void.

Even if she doesn't present a solution to all this, Grimes never surrenders to guilt and apathy, either. Instead, she dives deep into her own pain and creates a mirror to reflect the pain of humans and the earth.

Miss Anthropocene no work of supreme perfection, and its ideals exist more in the abstract than anything. But in seven months when Grimes gives birth to the antichrist, maybe we'll all wish we had paid a little more attention.


New Releases

BTS Releases Gorgeous New Album "MAP OF THE SOUL: 7"

After dominating the Grammys earlier this month, BTS returns with a brand new body of work

After conquering the Grammy stage to perform "Old Town Road" with Lil Nas X earlier this month, BTS has finally released their highly anticipated new album, MAP OF THE SOUL: 7.

The 20-track behemoth features a slew of their best songs from 2019's MAP OF THE SOUL: PERSONA, along with a fantastic new rendition of "ON," this time featuring Sia. The track's MV, which is as gorgeous as the song itself, was released today, as well. Other tracks include their stunning single "Black Swan," which Popdust's own Dan K called a "genuine masterpiece...one of those rare songs that seems to exist on an almost entirely emotional level. From the somber opening string notes to the vocal performances tinged with melancholy, and the distant, layered sound design, 'Black Swan' hits you straight in the soul."

The group recently returned from a well deserved hiatus and are set to embark on a world tour this April, with their first few performances being at none other than the Seoul Olympic Stadium.

Check out the album and music video below.

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MUSIC

Rocky Premieres Music Video for “How Will I Know”

If a person treats you like garbage, they aren't showing you love.

Rocky

Press Photo

Singer, actress, poet, and burlesque performer of Cameroonian descent, Rocky calls Canada home, but she's currently based in Seoul, South Korea.

Her new music video, "How Will I Know," discards trumped-up female gender myths. Rocky explains, "I am pushing back against the idea that Prince Charming will come and save the damsel in distress. With the help of her community, she can save herself. It was really important for me to include a 'shedding.' This represents shedding all the bull we've been taught about beauty and love"

How Will I Know — Rocky youtu.be

With her deliciously raspy voice, reminiscent of Cindi Lauper merged with Macy Gray, over a soulful hip-hop groove, Rocky analyzes the universal question: How will I know if this love is real? "Does he love me? / Does he care?" she sings.

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MUSIC

Best Ways to See More of Your Favorite K-Pop Idols

Can't get enough K-Pop? Check out these shows.

Running Man

Most K-Pop stars have carefully curated social media to give fans glimpses into their personal lives, but for some fans those little glimpses will never be enough.

Luckily, you don't need to resort to desperate measures to feel a little closer to your favorite idols. Korean entertainment is a world of endless crossovers, so you can get your fix of idol goodness in a few different ways.

Variety Shows

As anyone who's seen Jack Black's appearance on Infinite Challenge can tell you, Korean variety shows are crazy. We don't really have an equivalent in the U.S., but if you imagine a group of celebrities spending a whole day doing wacky Ellen/Jimmy Fallon games, you should get the idea. While Infinite Challenge is no longer running, it aired from 2005-2018 and regularly featured K-pop idols, along with actors, comedians, and athletes. With that many seasons, they've had a huge number of K-pop guests participating in the craziness, like T.O.P from Big Bang doing a ridiculous dance battle.

A similar show that's still airing is called Running Man, where you get to see members of BTS getting piggyback rides. The show also regularly features members of Bigbang, Blackpink, 2PM, CNBlue, and Miss A. With all the crazy antics that go on in these shows, you get to see more of the silly side of your favorite idols. Another variety show, Village Survival The Eight, has featured Jennie from Blackpink working with other celebrities to solve a fictional mystery. Along with the clips on YouTube, full episodes of these shows can be viewed for free on Rakuten Viki.

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DallasK Talks New Single and Favorite Collaborations

His new single, "I Know," premieres exclusively on Popdust.

Brandon Phillips

Unless well-versed in the EDM landscape, chances are that American-producer Dallas Koehlke has flown under your radar for a long time.

It's impossible to escape his influence. From Ariana Grande and Kesha to Lauv, Katy Perry, and Fifth Harmony, Koehlke has curated a staggering number of today's hits, whether behind the scenes or in the production chair. Additionally, Koehlke regularly collaborates with EDM heavyweights like Tiesto and Hardwell under his Electro-pop moniker DallasK, and has seen monumental success the more he's shifted his focus to electronic music. "I'm always working in so many different spaces and on so many different projects," the 28-year-old multi-platinum producer told Popdust. "My goal now is to focus all that energy on one album."

"Sometimes," The DJ's lead single off his forthcoming solo album, has already accredited lots of attention from fans and critics alike. The collaboration with Nicky Romero and XLYO has been highly praised since its debut at Ultra this year, and DallasK's latest single, "I Know," which premieres exclusively on Popdust, is set for a similar fate. We sat down with Koehlke to talk more about his new album and what he has planned for the future.

Tell me about the new song "I Know." What is it about, and how did it come together?

"The [chorus] for 'I Know' was actually written last year. I rented an Airbnb and used it as a studio, and invited some of my favorite collaborators to just work on music for a month. I wrote this song with Coffee Clarence Jr and Sarah Hudson the same day we wrote another one of my singles 'Self Control.' Coffee's performance on the record was unmatched so I decided to keep him on the song. The studio had these huge cavernous ceilings and a lot of the natural reverb on his voice can be heard in the song. I ended up finishing the production on it recently when I was going through some old projects and was immediately inspired to make it what it is today. To me, it sounds like something between Phil Collins and Calvin Harris."

DallasK & Nicky Romero ft. Xylo - Sometimes (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

I heard that you're really into mentoring young musicians. Tell me more about your workshops and what you hope to teach up and coming musicians. What lessons are you teaching now that you wish you had learned yourself?

"The main reason I like to work with young musicians is simply because I remember what it was like to be one. I'm not pretending to have all of the answers, but I have more of them than when I started. I know that, personally, I had no sense for the business side of how to be an artist or a producer and I think that's the most important lesson that I can impart on people. To teach about the importance of relationships and specifically the longevity of [certain] relationships."

Speaking of relationships, you've worked with so many artists and producers. Which creative relationship do you really cherish, and who are you still dying to work with?

"Lauv is one of my close friends and collaborators, and I love working with him because he's never afraid to explore and get weird especially with his production. I'm still dying to work with Daft Punk or M83."

I heard through the grape vine that you're also working on a Miley Cyrus remix. What made you want to remix a song by her?

"The remix is of her alter ego Ashley O from the Netflix series 'Black Mirror,' and its also a rework of a Nine Inch Nails song. I think that alone is so interesting and is a perfect example of the creative culture we're living in in 2019. I was so excited to be a part of that story. I actually had been sent the song but it came on later that day when I was at the gym and that's when the idea for how it could sound really [clicked.]"

What's next for you?

"Definitely more shows and music. Hard to say more [about the] album but I definitely have all the music. I just need to find the vision for what I want the album to become and execute from there."

What has the response been to your new singles so far?

"My last single, 'Sometimes,' did really well! A ton of support from dance radio and Spotify as well as a lot of people reaching out to say they connected with it. That's the most important thing to me. I want my fans to know that I'm going to be releasing a bunch of new music and THANK YOU for sticking with me on the journey!"

Check out the new single below:

I Know