2013 was the year we got Pope Francis, North West, and Manti Te’o’s catfishing debacle. It was the year we watched Robin Thicke dance with Miley Cyrus to “Blurred Lines.” It was the year “selfie” was named the Oxford Dictionaries’ “Word of the Year.” It’s also the last time we received a full-length Lorde album, Pure Heroine.
Back then, Ella Yelich-O’Connor was a 16-year-old ingenue singing about suburban boredom and teenage angst. She smashed her way onto the scene with the anthemic “Royals,” where she simultaneously critiqued and reveled in the glamorous pop and rap lifestyle. Now, we can see that Pure Heroine kickstarted a movement of young female pop singers who lamented their uncoolness and detested the going-through-the-motions partying of their peers (see: Alessia Cara’s “Here” and Hailee Steinfeld’s “Hell Nos And Headphones”) (see also: everything Halsey does).
And then Lorde did something kind of unfathomable for a young, viral pop star–she took a break. She took things slow, choosing projects with the deftness of someone who knows exactly what they want. Since Pure Heroine, she’s worked on just a handful of projects. In 2014, she curated the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack, stocking it with CHVRCHES, Charli XCX, and Pusha T, as well as her dark, hammering single “Yellow Flicker Beat.”
In 2015, Lorde and Disclosure teamed up on “Magnets,” a catchy, heavy cadence-driven number that leaves you kind of breathless as Lorde sings, “Smoke and sunset, off Mulholland. He was talking, I was wonderin’ ’bout you and that girl, she your girlfriend? Face from heaven, bet the world she don’t know. Pretty girls don’t know the things that I know.”
Every move Lorde makes feels like the natural next step, and she’s not hurrying to get there. On Thursday, that next step came in the form of “Green Light,” the first single and video from her forthcoming second (!!) LP, Melodrama. She’s been teasing the track all week via Twitter and the website imwaitingforit.com.
i am so proud of this song. it's very different, and kinda unexpected. it's complex and funny and sad and joyous and it'll make you DANCE
— Lorde (@lorde) March 1, 2017
All of those things have turned out to be true. “Green Light” is poppy and bright and piano-driven. The music video, directed by Grant Singer (“I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”), has Lorde bopping around a city in Adidas sneakers and a pink dress, singing all about how she’s “hearing brand new sounds in my head.” It’s very on the nose, but not in a bad way.
This is Lorde post-fame, sliding into black cars, embracing her early twenties in red-hued nightclubs. The main character is maybe the black car, which she hangs out of and dances on top of in signature claw-handed Lorde fashion. It’s fun and kind of delightful and very weird.
If this song (and Lorde’s tweets from January) are any indication, her new record might be the shimmering pop salve we need right now.
Knowing Lorde, we can at least expect another fully-formed body of work a la Pure Heroine. “It’s the first chapter of a story I’m gonna tell you, the story of the last 2 wild, fluorescent years of my life,” Lorde tweeted on Wednesday. “This is where we begin.”