Long Live the Anti-Pop Heroine
by Iryna Byelyayeva
Lorde has finally provided us with a release date for Melodrama (2016)—June 16th, and now all we can do is sit around listening to ‘Green Light,’ ‘Liability’ and our faves from Pure Heroine (2013) over and over again. Some of us may not think that Lorde’s new music is a big deal and those of us are, to put it politely, confused. The thing about Lorde isn’t that her music is incredible (though it arguably is), it’s more that we are so lucky to have a smart woman who is proficient at using her music to artfully express her perception of the world at a particular time.
I never got into Pure Heroine. I missed the boat to the embracement of teenagehood, and by the time Pure Heroine was out I was concentrating hard to trying to push my life forward. Looking back didn’t interest me too much. Nevertheless, I appreciated the pop album for what it was—catchy, honest and relatable. Lorde was a breath of fresh air in an industry which, in 2013, was still saturated with a gross mix of cleanliness and sexuality. The biggest pop hits were either vintage-inspired bubblegum or raw, violent sexual drug taking. In a year that blessed us with gave us ‘Thrift Shop’ and ‘Blurred Lines,’ Lorde’s soulful, no-nonsense voice saved us all the way from New Zealand with ‘Royals’. The song has a clear beat, the rhythmic clicking entices you to join in. This bareness leaves the spotlight to shine on her lyrics. Thematically, Lorde is anti-pop. She speaks about being okay with not having as much as the other music giants. Her songs are about enjoying youth and each other and finding the fun in not having everything the media is trying to make you desire. My favourite lyrics of hers come from ‘Tennis Court’—‘pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane/ I’ll see the veins of my city like they do in space.’ I love it not only for the exquisite imagery, but for the pleasure you feel remembering the first time you yourself boarded a plane. It may have been before you were sixteen, or after, that doesn’t matter—Lorde is experiencing it now. It’s such a simple thing to happen but you can imagine how excited she must have been and you can easily relate to her joy.
When I first listened to the album I was wrong (which seemed to be a theme with me). You can relate to the sentiments in Pure Heroine at any age. She calls her and her friends gladiators, she says they’re on each other’s team and don’t care they’re not white-teeth teens. They have each other and that’s sweet. Her content is for everyone but fundamentally adolescent. I listen now smiling, yet my reaction is fuelled by my reminiscing of what she’s talking about as opposed to feeling it now. Now life is a bit messier and that glorious boredom we felt as teens hanging out doesn’t really exist anymore.
Perhaps, this is why I’m so excited to see what she has to offer in 2017. Already ‘Green Light’ and ‘Liability’ are a different kind of listening. They aren’t as easy or accessible. You need to give them a couple of listens, hear every detail and change in mood. ‘Green Light’ strikes me as a song which has gone through many versions and evolved naturally into the messy glory that it is now (is that what’s been happening to Lorde, on a personal level, since the last album??). I believe this new album will be matured Lorde, still the same down-to-earth themes but more nuanced. What I mean is, I don’t predict we’ll see a YouTube video about her ties to the Illuminati any time soon.
What’s annoying, now that we’re so close to her new album, is the gross amount of publications claiming that after a four-year hiatus she is bringing herself back into the spotlight, as if she hasn’t been constantly producing content. I’m sure all of us reading this are aware of what Lorde has been up to, but it never hurts to list a great woman’s achievements. Since Pure Heroine she curated the soundtrack for The Hunger Games Part 1 and released a killer single with Disclosure (‘Magnets’). She has been busy maturing as a person and an artists and now we’re about to experience the next chapter of her life.
Lorde is important to understanding her generation, understanding our own feelings and hopefully even creating more sympathy for the generations to come. With Pure Heroine she has cemented exactly what it feels like to be a teen, the pressure from the outside world, the insecurity, the friendship and, ultimately, the feeling that no matter you’ll be okay. It’s a point of empathy for her and her peers. After four years of more women writing honest music, speaking about sexuality, love, friendship, I’m ready to hear Lorde’s perspective on it.
Iryna is a creative lady living in Melbourne, Australia. She is the Editor of The Wall Mag and gets published here and there. She can be followed on twitter @irynabyel