It’s been fascinating to watch the South Korean pop-idol group BTS proceeding with their conquest of America. Through sheer flash and craft and charisma — without changing their language or doing much of anything else to appeal specifically to American audiences — they’re touring US stadiums and bending our own pop-culture institutions to their will. Last week, BTS debuted their wild “art film” for new single “Black Swan.” This past weekend, they took part in Lil Nas X’s magnificently chaotic Grammy performance. And last night, they performed “Black Swan” for the first time on American television.
BTS were the musical guests on James Corden’s Late Late Show, and they did everything possible to ensure that this would not be an average musical performance. Their version of “Black Swan” was intricately choreographed — all seven members of the group barefoot and wearing black suits, all of them whirling gracefuly across the stage. The different members of the group all got solo moments to shine. They also played on an elaborate set that made it look like they were performing in the middle of a forest, and, thanks to an LCD-screen waterfall, literally walking on water. As pure pop spectacle, it was magnificent.
BTS also took part in a long comedy bit, ending the broadcast by playing hide-and-seek with Corden and fellow handsome man Ashton Kutcher. James Corden did a lot of cackling. I wonder if this whole rigamarole made them feel like Bill Murray when he went on that Japanese talk show in Lost In Translation. You can watch both the performance and the hide-and-seek bit below.
The new BTS album Map Of The Soul: 7 is out 2/21 on BigHit Entertainment.