Song Review: Blackswan – Karma

Blackswan - KarmaWow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written about Blackswan! This group has suffered more member changes than I can count, and the current line-up is another refresh from their 2021 configuration. Only leader Fatou remains.

This constant change makes it difficult to feel any kinship toward Blackswan. You don’t want to get too attached for fear of members leaving! And though the group has delivered some solid songs in the past, they’ve never found that one iconic hit that might give them a jumping off point. New single Karma doesn’t do much to shift that perception.

Karma takes us to India, and I’ll let you decide whether Blackswan’s schtick is cultural appreciation or appropriation. There are some interesting elements fused to the instrumental, but the song  follows too many annoying K-pop tropes for me. There’s a ton of errant sing-talk, skittering hi-hats and an ever-shifting focus that makes it hard to get into the groove. The track is well produced and well performed, but I can’t point to any moments or musical ideas that make me eager to come back for another play.

Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7

Grade: C


18 thoughts on “Song Review: Blackswan – Karma

  1. Yet another title track whose b-side – Cat & Mouse – is better (and I would also add Younite’s Trip to a longer and longer list).
    The actual issue with Black Swan is that almost no one can take them seriously, and the effect still remains “EXP Edition-esque” (or “EXP Edition-ish”) release after release. Judging by (the) Karma, I’m afraid it’s getting unfixable.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I liked the pastels theming going on. I don’t have any substasive thoughts about appropriation vs appreciation here either.
    I can recognize Fatou and perhaps Leia.

    The rest of it is average girl group kpop.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think having one Indian member probably would stop most cultural appropriation accusations cause we don’t know how that member feels or was interacted with in regards to this matter


  4. The verses have good energy but aren’t particularly memorable. As usual with a song of this Nate, the prechorus was more enjoyable. The chorus is by the books we’ve been here several times before and it’s not an interesting destination. The bridge was a surprise though, it doesn’t go anywhere but the mood was speaking to me. It felt more bubblegum than everything around it


  5. I actually really liked this one- the song was much better than I expected! And I wad going in with some real great apprehensions because of the concept – but it’s surprisingly pretty good!

    Now on the appreciation VS appropriation aspect I think I can speak a bit about this. Not so big reveal lol but I’m Indian – not from the exact state this is filmed in (I’m from the state where the “other” Indian kpop idol is from lol). And before I start I’ll say while I’m more of a liberal person – the country itself is very conservative and that includes even a lot of youngsters who are very conservative on thoughts of religion and culture specifically.

    So I’ve been seeing the opinions of a couple of other Indian kpop fans on this as well and have a fair idea of how things are. So the general feeling I get is there’s more appreciation than appropriation – the girl, Sriya is from Odisha which does work in their favor as this is filmed in her state and the MV showcases a lot of Odiya culture.

    There are a few points that people are not happy about – one being the shots taken in front of temples. I agree these scenes are a bit odd and perhaps unnecessary – they could have refrained from performing in front of a religious place of worship. And I can understand how even more wrong it would feel for someone who is from that place to see this in the MV as a backdrop. Luckily it seems the song and lyrics aren’t inappropriate (idk – but nobody’s been saying anything about that lol) – so that is one thing going for them.

    There are a few other parts I see some people mentioning like the one where they danced with their shoes on in this open place with a thulsi plant (Holy Basil) behind them – this plant, as the name indicates, is holy, and so wearing shoes around it is considered disrespectful.

    Regarding the fashion, jewellery and styling – I’m seeing more complaints on how it doesn’t really go together or look good rather than appropriation 😅 but I’m not an expert in those areas either so it remains to be seen.

    The temple part is definitely the one people are most unhappy/angry about – there is quite some positive praise for the way they showcased different locations and also representing the people in a real way rather than stereotyping. This is what I liked too and Fatou’s charisma drives a lot of the casual scenes on the street etc with such force!

    Personally what I loved the most was that they didn’t shove in any stereotypical “indian” music or “bollywood” music into the instrumental or song. I’m sorry but the reason why I could never take Loona’s PTT that seriously was how jarring this sounded! 💀 Not that it’s wrong to use this music but sometimes it just doesn’t work with the song they have in mind! The best use of such a music I’ve seen so far gotta be Blitzers Hit the Bass – it actually fit the vocal track as well. And Karma here is a regular kpop song without adding any mismatched flourishes – which gives it those bonus points.

    There you go Nick – a ted talk lmao 💀 And like my usual comments I’ll just say I’m hopeful those performances will make this grow on me more!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Honestly more than anything else this comment was the reason I realised there is now another Indian in kpop… I completely missed that, just looked that up. Truly unthinkable even just a year or so ago. I have no real thoughts on them being part of kpop groups – I’m just here for the music and performances and variety content – but it’s interesting to see that kpop groups have actually included Indians now (and not just Z-GIRLS etc.)


    • I always wondered, clearly for these cultural landmarks, the Indian government must have approved a foreign company to take a music video there. So clearly the government wasn’t offended, but people are?


      • Okay, I can answer that! 😀

        So the thing is not everything in the MV could be considered huge cultural sites. Some of the locations shown were significant locations (which they must have got permission for) and I don’t think many people had a problem for those areas. In fact I think the aerial shots of certain temples alone was quite fine and appreciated. But the one shot of the entrance of a small temple with Fatou dancing in front is what most people are not happy about.

        I’m not sure how to explain it – but say a small place of worship in your your town – a local church or something – and there’s a kpop group dancing in front of it and recording it in an MV 😅

        So this particular church might not be some significant national spot but locals who do know it or use it regularly or somebody who recognizes it as a church spot in the video will probably find it weird and maybe even offensive right?

        I think that one temple shot here is similar. It is not really possible to identify the exact temple where they shot the video but there are many indicators it is such a local place and that’s why people are not happy with it. There’s a good chance the crew took permission from the people who manage the temple itself, but for really small tucked-away-in-a-quiet-corner temples – the government wouldn’t probably even get involved. 😄

        Even I believe they would have taken permission from the management to shoot those scenes – but in a country like ours people have varying levels of tolerance. Conservatives who follow rules strictly would definitely be irked by seeing a place of worship in a setting like this. Slightly more liberal people might conclude that that as long as the song isn’t inappropriate it is fine.

        So it’s not possible to say whether the government actually had a hand in everything – and also down here people’s sentiments come first regardless of what the govt might support 💀


  6. Well they got an Indian member, so anyone claiming cultural appropriation is kinda full of it. Song wasn’t amazing, but its pretty easy listen. 7/10 they did a good job tbh


  7. I can’t be the only one who hears pink venom in this??? I don’t like it. It postures “we’re gangsters but also depressed emo” too much…


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