Everyone’s favourite former-teen is back and thank god she’s not build ups.
It has been almost four years since Ella "Lorde" Yelich-O'Connor released her debut album Pure Heroine and our lives changed forever. We were entranced, enamoured, enthralled with this strange, precocious Takapuna teen who seemed to somehow know the secrets of the world.
And then as suddenly as she had appeared, she vanished again. Of course, not entirely: there were a couple of one off releases, occasional performances at awards shows, infrequent cameos on the Daily Mail - but the second album we so hungered for remained but a distant hope.
New Zealand was hit the hardest. For a moment we had known greatness and now it was becoming a distant memory, or worse, bank helpline hold music.
Yet we are a resilient people: we waited, and through those long, bitter winters and scorching, sweaty summers, we knew that one day, some day the Lorde would return.
Well as you know this week the light at the end of this endless tunnel grew suddenly brighter and, after a flurry of hints and winks and viral marketing stunts, finally we have emerged into the blinding sun.
And thank goodness she delivered: 'Green Light' is a bop. A soaring, sing-alongy breakup anthem; the accompanying video shows Lorde dancing through the city streets with the reckless abandon of someone who isn’t fazed by a million fans breathing down their neck for 4 years.
There will be hot takes a-plenty, but bear in mind that this is not what Lorde would want. We must take time, as individuals and as a nation, to absorb, process and understand.
To do this, we need to break it down.
1. The album is in fact called Melodrama.
Before we can ever comprehend Green Light, we must first acclimatise to knowing with certainty what we have for a week now only speculated, which is that Lorde’s second album is called Melodrama.
Teasing the title on her mysterious website this week, pundits have been furiously weighing in on what the hints could be leading to, and it turns out most were on the money.
Melodrama suggests many things - romance, emotion, tragedy, catharsis - and makes even more sense when you consider that ...
2. Green Light is first and foremost a break-up anthem.
“I know what you did and I want to scream the truth”? Honey, we’ve been there. While this perhaps signals a tough month ahead for a certain Auckland photographer, Lorde’s choice to put her own heartbreak front and centre is a masterstroke for the singer. Both more personally specific and universally relatable than her previous fare, it also signals an important step in a formative process that has been public for Lorde since she became a teen sensation.
Speaking to Beats 1’s Zane Lowe, she explained: “It’s about heartbreak. I’m not used to writing about that. It’s about those moments after your life changes and all those silly things you gravitate towards”.
Dish the dirt girl, we got you.
3. She's got some cool new musical influences.
In terms of musical influences, things have also progressed rapidly. Working with hotshot producer Jack Antonoff (credentials: Lena Dunham’s boyfriend, instrumental in the Taylor Swift pop re-brand) her signature throaty voice is given a more dynamic soundscape on which to play and as such increases her range rapidly.
Though many have made connections to The Great Gatsby, the Green Light symbolism also suggests some unconventional influencers for Lorde. Listening to a little John Legend maybe? Or perhaps even Pitbull? Inspiration is everywhere.
4. She hasn’t given up her wacky dancing.
A lot of things have changed for Lorde, but one has stayed the same - albeit with a more mature, confident spin. Known for her slightly awkward, slightly awesome on stage dance moves, Lorde is back at it again and better than ever.
Look at her go!
5. She’s updated her look.
Just a little bit: Her long, curly hair is now a so-hot-right-now lob and her gothy black lipstick and black mesh has been replaced by a formfitting (!) pink dress and Adidas Superstars.
The album art too, suggests a new aesthetic direction for Lorde and shows just how far she's come since that very first mysterious illustration.
6. She has become a master of viral marketing and owns us all.
Though this was obviously a worldwide release, but in the wake of some very intense New Zealand based marketing the debut of Green Light felt very much aimed at us - which makes it all the crazier that this song was released here at 8am. EIGHT. AM. And while most of us Kiwis are trudging/driving/sailing to work at this hour, and therefore technically available to listen to some sweet tunes, this is hardly traditional pop single/video release prime time.
We’re grumpy. We’re sleepy. In this humidity we’re a little bit sticky. But after a week of careful, steady, mostly successful, drip feeding, we were all bright eyed, bushy tailed and chomping at the bit to hear the new track this morning. That’s power, man.