Melodrama is the album that started it all for me. All I know is one fine morning, I went to school and my best friend told me to listen to an album by a woman who went by the stage name Lorde. And because I trusted his opinion regarding books, I assumed I would like his recommended music too. So I went home and downloaded the album, listened to it and liked it.
The next day, when I went back, my best friend started asked me if I’d listened to ‘that’ line in ‘that’ song which was so deep and poetic. While I nodded my head, I realized I’d never really paid attention to any of the lyrics—I never had, no matter what the song was.
So that day, I went back home, listened to the album again as I read the lyrics, and my mind was literally blown. I realised then that songs were also, in many ways, poems. I realised how important the lyrics were to the making of a song—and I realised just how much I loved Lorde.
She certainly does have a way with words. Pure Heroine, her debut album, was probably my favorite up-til that point, because it was one of the few that was talking about things I could relate to; growing up, being a teenager, etc. Her views about the world were very similar to my own, but then, a few months later I kind of forgot about her when I over-listened to the album.
I didn’t really come to back to music, after that, until Melodrama was released three and a half years later.
It was also her first single, and is very matter-of fact and straightforward. The song provides a perfect analogy to moving on. It talks about not being able to move on from a break up, and waiting for the ‘green light’ so she may move past it, but the ‘green light’ isn’t coming.
The song starts out very angry, with lyrics like, I know about what you did and I want to scream the truth. She thinks you love the beach you’re such a damn liar, with the word ‘liar’ lingering in your ears like an echoing whisper. The words are very intense, as is the way in which they’re spoken.
Then the song transitions into the hook, Well those great white they have big teeth. Hope they bite you, thought you said that you would always be in love. But you’re not in love no more. Did it frighten you? How we kissed when we danced in the light up-floor? This is again a very angry verse where she hopes that her ex-lover is eaten by sharks, because he said he’d always love her but didn’t. This rage-filled hook is sung in (in contrast to its meaning) a very childish, high-pitched harmony, almost like its a nursery rhyme being sung to a baby.
Then the upbeat piano kicks in, and the angry tone of the song shifts all of a sudden. I hear sounds in my mind, she sings happily. She could be referring to how this breakup has inspired the sounds of Melodrama itself, since it is a break-up album.
Honey I’ll come get my things but I can’t let go, in contrast to the lyrics, once more the melody is incredibly catchy and up-beat. Here, the anger is gone and there is a clear sense of longing in her voice, and then all of a sudden, the anger and the longing are mashed in one when there’s that high-pitched harmony cry of I’m waiting for it! That green light! I want it!
I also really love the second verse of the song, sometimes I wake up in a different bedroom. I whisper things, the city sings them back to you. Well those rumors they have big teeth.
Now the lyrics of Green Light are pretty surfaced and straightforward, but what really redeems that is first of all, I think the genius metaphor of the green traffic light, and secondly, the hurricane of emotion that this song is, the emotion she’s put into not only the lyrics but her voice as well.
Also, if you watch the music video for Green Light down below, you’ll notice that it’s all shot in red with hints of green and blue, as she dances under the red traffic light. I just think it’s genius to use the lighting that way, because she’s waiting for the green light, which hasn’t yet come.
This is one of the most well-thought-out tracks Lorde has ever done. It narrates the story of a party, where Lorde walks in and meets a new person, and falls right for him. The song is about the thrill and spontaneity of the love and the party.
The song begins in a very unique and hooking way, with a muffled yet high harmony of midnight, lose my mind being repeated over and over again.
After this intro, the beat kicks in and the verse begins. After each verse, Lorde sings, but what will we do when we’re sober? The verse always talks about some thrill or rave that she’s feeling/having and then it’s suddenly countered with the line but what will we do when we’re sober? So basically, she’s lost, drunk, hopelessly in love in the party but at the back of her head she’s wondering, if she’ll regret this overnight love, or will she still have the same feelings?
Some of my favorite lyrics are we’re sleeping through all the days…I’m acting like I don’t see every ribbon you use to tie yourself to me…we pretend that we don’t care, but we care…can we keep up with the ruse? We’re king and queen of the weekend, ain’t a pill that could touch our rush (but what will we do when we’re sober?).
If you want to be really literary and pull a metaphor out of everything like my Literature teacher, you could say that the song mirrors life itself, and the temporary pleasures and distractions of the world.
My favorite lines from the song, however, are in the last verse in which she reiterates the ‘dancing’ she mentioned previously, but here instead of dancing with her lover, she’s dancing with—
Midnight, we’re fading
‘Till daylight, we’re jaded
We know that it’s over
In the morning, you’ll be dancing with all the heartache
And the treason, the fantasies of leaving
But we know that, when it’s over
In the morning, you’ll be dancing with us.
HOMEMADE DYNAMITE [*]
I do believe Homemade Dynamite continues the story of Sober. It’s about meeting someone new as well, and their telling each other lies, and showing off their best first impressions, and feeling…explosive, to put it simply.
A couple rebel top gun pilots flying with nowhere to be. The fact that she has used this line to say that they both are at the party with no particular aim other than to forget their heartbreak just illustrates what an amazing lyricist she is.
Let’s let things come out of the woodwork, I’ll give you my best lies, I’ll tell you all my best lies. She’s just met this person, so she’s not telling him her deepest secrets, obviously, she’s trying to make herself look better. Notice how the two lines are contrasting each other in terms of their meaning.
Our rules, our dreams. We blind. Blowin’ [it] up with homemade d-d-d-dynamite. I just thought this was worth mentioning because of the d-d-d-dynamite, which sounds a little something like the countdown right before a bomb would go off. Speaking of which, a lot of the production under the chorus of this song also sounds chaotic, like things are ‘blowing up’.
The bridge of this song is also a genius moment, where everything suddenly stops, and then those high-pitched harmonies kick in, saying now you know it’s really going to blow. And then makes the sound of the bomb going off with her mouth. (In the official remix below, the bridge comes at the very end).
Might get your friend to drive but he can hardly see. We’ll end up painted on the road red and chrome, all the broken glass sparkling. I guess we’re partying. Only Lorde can create that rich imagery, and only she can describe a car crash like that.
I’ve linked the remix here because I think it’s interesting how it blends so many unique voices of R&B singers/songwriters like Khalid and SZA with Lorde’s voice so well.
This song is about the starting stage of the relationship that kicked off in Sober and Homemade Dynamite. She talks about how exciting and wonderful and perfect the start is and how fast it passes.
I overthink your p-punctuation use. Lorde and the way she uses her stammers…This line is so true because when someone has a crush on someone or they’re both still getting to know one another, each punctuation mark in each text message makes them contemplate what mood the other person is in or if the text message was sent angrily, or was it just an extra punctuation mark that made everything sound serious even though it wasn’t?
Our days and nights are perfumed with obsession. I am your sweetheart, psychopathic crush. I love the context she used the word ‘perfume’ in, and the way she calls herself a ‘psycho’ over her lover.
Megaphone to my chest. Broadcast the boom-boom-boom-boom and make ’em all dance to it. Her heart is beating so fast that if someone put a megaphone to her heart and broadcasted it, people could probably dance to it—that’s just how casually excited she is for the relationship.
Now if you notice, the Louvre has one major instrument throughout it’s verse and hook; a guitar. It’s a gentle but fast strumming of the strings, denoting the gently but quickly escalating relationship, and the hastiness of their love and how fast everything is, like a rush at the beginning.
A lot of people think the chorus of the Louvre is very…anti-climatic, if you will. It doesn’t really resolve the tension built up by the fast strumming guitar and the rise of the hook. But I think that’s just genius. I think the reason the Louvre doesn’t have a crazy ultra loud pop chorus is because it was never supposed to. It denotes, again, the hastiness of the love Lorde is experiencing, and how quick and restless it is.
And if you’ve heard Pure Heroine, you’ll know that anti-climatic choruses, unresolved tension or even no chorus at all are a few of the hallmarks of Lorde’s songwriting. Ribs, Buzzcut Season, Still Sane, No Better, Biting Down, The Love Club are all examples of this. And even songs like Tennis Court and Royals don’t have crazy loud choruses. In fact, Tennis Court and Royals have a rather catchier hook than a chorus, and I love that Lorde continued that in Melodrama.
Blow all my friendships to sit in hell with you. I’m not even going to try to explain this. I just love this line, because I feel like when people are hopelessly in love, they start to say stupid dumbstruck things like ‘my lover is my best friend’ which just is not and will never be true.
But we’re the greatest, they’ll hang us in the Louvre. Down the back. But who cares? Still the Louvre. I just love the witty humor in this line, casually thrown into the emotional roller coaster that is this song. She’s so hopelessly crazy in love she’s starting to think that their love is so great it deserves to be hung up in the Louvre—not so great that it’ll be hung in the front of the museum—perhaps somewhere in a dark room, but still in the Louvre.
Another thing to note along with the build-up of tension and it never being released would be that the Louvre has a whole minute-long fade-out. A lot of people, again think that it’s lazy and boring, but in my opinion, it’s a stroke of genius. It represents the hasty feelings of love literally fading away, until the love doesn’t exist. And then the next song, Liability opens up on the stage of the break-up.
I also really enjoyed the acoustic session of the Louvre. The visuals of the video—the lighting and the colours—are just what I envisioned the Louvre to be like, and I don’t even have synesthesia.
Liability is probably my favorite Lorde song ever. It’s the most stripped down I’ve ever heard her, and I’ve never heard a better piano ballad. There’s so much vulnerability and sadness in this track.
The song begins continuing the relationship from the previous song, except now, the ‘rush’ of the beginning is over, and they have broken up. Guess I’ll go home. Into the arms of the girl that I love, the only love I haven’t screwed up. She’s so hard to please, but she’s a forest fire. I do my best to meet her demands…At first you’re confused, because she says into the arms of the ‘girl’ that I love.
Then she goes on to sing, We slow dance in the living room, but all that a stranger would see, is one girl swaying alone, stroking her cheek. Here’s where we get the big reveal, and the confusion is cleared. She’s talking about herself, and she’s the only love she has been left with. She’s not content with herself, and is trying to meet her own demands, but she can’t. And she’s stroking her cheek because she’s crying (in case that wasn’t clear).
They say you’re a little much for me, you’re a liability…So they pull back, make other plans, I understand, I’m a liability, I’m a little much for everyone. The main theme of the song is the feeling of being a burden on other people, to be a person everyone has to care for, and being the one that’s left out. But what really punches you in the gut is that she says, I understand, I am a liability, and the fact that she’s taking the blame for herself.
The truth is I am a toy, that people enjoy, till all of the tricks don’t work anymore, and then they are bored of me. I can’t even say anything before this line. Even though Lorde did say this was the most ‘melodramatic’ song of the album now that she looks back, but in the moment, these feelings do feel real, not just like drama.
I know that it’s exciting running through the night but every perfect summer’s eating me alive until you’re gone. I’m better on my own. She tries to tell herself that she can do it alone. And the lyric about summer is probably one of my favorites off of the album, just because its so…jarringly vivid.
HARD FEELINGS/LOVELESS [*]
This is a very slow song, very reminiscent of her last album, and captures the moment when you’ve just ended a relationship with someone.
It begins with Lorde whispering, go back and tell it. This signifies the second part of the album, where she shifts into past tense. From this point on, she starts to look back at the relationship in flashbacks.
Let’s give it a minute before we admit that we’re through. Lorde described this song, I think, as the moment when you’ve just ended it but are clinging on for the extra second, and are just sitting there because if you leave, it’ll make the end much more real.
I remember the rush, when forever was us, before all of the winds of regret and mistrust, now we sit in your car and our love is a ghost. The ‘forever was us’ and the ‘rush’ are lines that remind me of the Louvre, because it also talks about glorifying the relationship—the only difference is, this time it’s in the past tense. I also love the idea of the ‘winds’ and the very last phrase, ‘our love is a ghost’ is just beautiful.
These are what they call hard feelings of love. I love how she puts two different ideas together; the idea of ‘hard feelings’ and the idea of ‘love.’ Hard feelings are usually feelings of hate and ‘cold shoulders,’ but it makes an interesting combination when it is put next to the idea of love.
I light all the candles, got flowers for all my rooms. I care for myself the way I used to care about you. This shifts the tone of the song a little, and loses the soft spot for the ex lover.
You’ve outgrown a lover. For some reason, I love this expression.
Now I’ll fake it every single day ’til I don’t need fantasy, ’til I feel you leave, but I still remember everything, how we’d drift buying groceries, how you’d dance for me. I’ll start letting go of little things ’til I’m so far away from you…Again, there is nothing to explain, I just love this verse so much.
Then the beat of Loveless kicks in, and the whole song flips. Loveless is completely different from Hard Feelings, Bet you wanna rip my heart out, bet you wanna skip my calls now, well guess what? I like that! She’s being witty and deciding it’s the lover’s fault that they’re over.
Look out, lovers! L-O-V-E-L-E-S-S generation. This line is my favorite from the song. It talks about how ‘love’ has become a word so commonly thrown around, it’s lost its value. It isn’t important anymore. People get together and break up so quickly. This little phrase perfectly describes our generation.
SOBER II (MELODRAMA) [*]
Sober II, the title track, continues the idea of Sober, and what happens after the party is over. It begins with really melancholic violins, and perfectly captures the mood of an ‘after party’. Lights are on and they’ve gone home, but who am I? She’s lost herself in the thrill of the party. Oh how fast the evening passes, cleaning up the champagne glasses.
All of a sudden, the mood of the song shifts from the majestic violins and cellos. There’s a quick series of gunshots, and then: All the glamour and the trauma and the [goddamn] melodrama. All the gunfights and the lime lights and the holy sick divine nights. I was so glad that she continued the themes of Pure Heroine in this record, because when I heard Green Light, I was afraid that this would just be a break-up record that I wouldn’t relate to, but thank God she still kept those themes about war and violence and the artificial world in this record.
They’ll talk about us, all the lovers, how we kissed and killed each other. Oh God, there’s no point in explaining this.
The production on this track is absolutely stellar. The lyrics themselves last only two minutes, and that’s including the orchestra of violins. I feel like my soul is leaving my body whenever I hear this track, no joke. I love how it, too, fades out, with the weird background noises, and the high pitched screams of we told you this was melodrama, you wanted something that we offered.
WRITER IN THE DARK
In this song, Lorde channels her inner Taylor Swift and addresses her ex, saying that he probably regrets being in a relationship with her, because now she’s making songs about him. Bet you rue the day you kissed the writer in the dark, now she’s going to play and sing and lock you in her heart.
Break the news, you’re walking out to be a good man for someone else, sorry I was never good like you…I did my best to exist just for you, stood on my chest and kept me down, hated hearing my name on the lips of a crowd… Lorde is calling herself the ‘writer in the dark’ and says that despite her best efforts, the relationship was born to die—and she might just be blaming her fame for it.
I am my mother’s child, she sings in a heart-breaking voice, almost as if she is crying, and if you were crazy Lorde fan, you would probably know that her mother is also a poet. But in my darkest hour, I stumbled on a secret power, I found a way to be without you. Who could ever think to write it this way?
In this, Lorde looks back at her relationship one last time, but this time focusing only on the good parts, and wishes she might have tried to salvage it. The visions never stop…but when I reach for you, there’s just a supercut of us.
I play a supercut of us, all the magic we gave off, all the love we hadn’t lost. I mean, all the poetry classes are happening right here in this song.
In your car the radio up, we keep trying to talk about us, I’ll be your quiet afternoon crush, be your violent overnight rush. She puts two different stages of the relationship together here—the crush and the break-up. She has been his lover as well as his ex lover.
In my head I do everything right. When you call, I’ve forgiven that fight. This just evokes so much sadness in me, and again, she’s thinking of what she couldn’t done differently to save the relationship.
Supercut also fades out, with a few muffled cries of in my head I do everything right repeated a couple of times. This again, like the Louvre represents that right now she’s haunted by the ‘supercut’ of the relationship, and the good times she had with her former lover, but these feelings too will fade away. And in the next two songs, you can tell she is no longer haunted by the breakup, because the songs focus solely on herself.
Another thing that I think is worth watching is the acoustic session of Supercut that Lorde did, which is just beautiful.
LIABILITY (REPRISE) [*]
This one refutes the first track by the same name, and goes to say but you’re not what you thought you were. She’s picking herself up and telling herself she’s better than just a liability. The first verses of the song are also beautiful, but I’m not putting them here because they lose meaning out of context. One line that I really like is all of the dreams that get harder, which I think is so true. Dreams do keep on getting harder to achieve.
PERFECT PLACES [*]
What a PERFECT way to conclude the album. This talks about finally being able to let go of or of teenage and growing up. This is the first and last song on the album that uses the pronoun ‘we’ not for the couple but for the young generation altogether, which is why it reminds me of Pure Heroine (also just the instrumentals are very minimal, like the ones in Pure Heroine).
I hate the headlines and the weather, I’m nineteen and I’m on fire, means that everything is being dramatized far past the point it needs to be, and it’s frustrating her. At least, that’s what Lorde has said. This is again, very melodramatic and the headlines and the weather definitely sound like something an angst-y teen would complain about. There could be new interpretations, obviously.
Feel the party to my bones, watch the wasters blow the speakers, spill my guts beneath the outdoor light. This references the party culture, which she feels like is needed because it’s distraction from the ‘melodrama’ of the world around them—reminiscent of the song from her last LP, Buzzcut Season.
All of our heroes fading, now I can’t stand to be alone, let’s go to perfect places. In this line, she’s lamenting the loss of role models, and saying that we young people don’t have the right role models to look up too because all the good ones are ‘fading’.
All the nights spent off our faces, trying to find these perfect places. What the [hell] are perfect places, anyway? Prior to this chorus, Lorde talks about transitioning into adulthood, opening up, moving on from the breakup, drinking, and just being free. So she’s almost there, but then she realizes she doesn’t even know what her destination is? What does she want, and where is she going? She’s lost her role-models, and is lost herself.
Really, the song is leaving the album open-ended. She’s asking if complete satisfaction, success and happiness is attainable, and if so, how? What defines these goals? How can one say he/she has attained them?
I love how raw and fun the album is. In Pure Heroine, her voice was much…sweeter, I think, and now that she’s grown her voice has thickened and I love how she continues to use that dry and raspy and raw voice to her advantage in vulnerable songs like Writer in the Dark and Liability. It feels so…imperfect, I think, with moments like the bridge of Supercut where the music starts and she sings in a quivering voice, and then screams loudly as the song rises again, and the part in Sober where the music stops and she whisper-sings, and the bridge of Homemade Dynamite when she imitates an explosion with her mouth—it just feels so casual and I love that about it.
I love all the jarring surprises the album holds, like in Sober—the start of that song, then the trumpets and the sudden screams and the “Jack and Jill get [messed] up and possessive when it get dark” moment. The transition from the hook to the chorus in Homemade Dynamite and Perfect Places—the weird flutes and noises and of course, the little “cht cht,” which resembles the clicking of a gun. The moment when you hear the gunshots in Sober II and the song completely shifts. Those weird “woahs” in Sober II also hit home so hard. Then, those strange but beautiful instrumentals in Hard Feelings, and the way it just completely takes a 180 degree turn into Loveless.
Overall, I love how sonically cohesive yet experimental this record is. I love that she departed from her original style from Pure Heroine, yet still kept pieces of her music from there—like the high pitched harmonies, the minimal but immediately captivating beat in Perfect Places which reminds me of 400 Lux or Royals, the anti-climatic choruses. In my opinion, this is a pretty perfect record.