When an unheralded sixteen year old New Zealander called Lorde released Royals onto an unsuspecting audience in 2013 the song captivated the world. As a song that encapsulated the obsessive nature of materialist millenials and the aspirations of those too poor to afford what they wanted and then finally the rejection of the idea of it by the song’s narrator, it was a refreshingly honest and scathing take on consumer culture, so much the antithesis of what most pop music peddles these days. Aside from the brilliant lyrics it was a fabulous song made so much better by a very savvy arrangement and stunning minimalist production.
By the time she released her debut album it was clear that Lorde was no one trick pony. Pure Heroine had so much more to offer than Lorde’s contemporaries – and not just the other teen artists on the charts, but others of supposedly much more maturity. Joel Little’s spartan production was the perfect foil for Lorde’s intriguing contrast of lyrical vulnerability with melodic beauty. This was compelling pop music.
So now it’s four years later. Lorde is no longer a teenager and her wildly admired debut has a successor. Aside from Royals which hit number 1 in a dozen countries, songs like Tennis Court and Team have racked up 88 and 143 million views respectively on You Tube alone. What impact does that kind of success have on one so young, even someone as seemingly level-headed who championed the notion “that kind of lux just ain’t for us”? How does someone who’s now scaled the heights of fame and its obligatory trappings respond?
The answer is Green Light, one of the most exciting new songs I’ve heard in some time. It’s a song about the difficulty of letting go after a break up, waiting for that green light to get your life back on the rails again, although in this case it’s more like waiting for the chance to put your foot down and go. The driving beat and multi tracked backing chorus gives it an anthemic touch, no different to Royals in that sense, but as a dance track it couldn’t be further apart in approach. The propulsive rhythm of Green Light ensures this is no song for a victim of love, but rather an affirmation of the need to take control of your life and go for it.
In the past few days Lorde has been posting tweets in the led up to this release. It’s understandably been a period of angst and anticipation. Even today just before the song was released she tweeted “OMG it’s today I could vomit”. In the hours since the song’s release the incredibly positive reaction to it will have quelled her fears. Lorde’s second album Melodrama will be released mid year.