Melodrama – I Want It

Just a ‘supercut’ of Melodrama from a fan who will be listening to Lorde’s new album on repeat until the real deal that is the concert in November.

In 2013, we were introduced to the wonderfully candid homage to teenagehood that was Pure Heroine; we danced and we sung our hearts out, or at least I know I did. Now, four years later, we see Lorde at 20, no longer a teenager and living in a completely different world – having moved from Auckland to New York City in the time since. After a bit of Googling, you find that the population of Auckland is a little over one million, whereas New York’s population sits nearer to 8.5 million. Even at first glance, I can tell that the move would have been monumental. Lorde went from living nearby to family and friends, in a familiar country, whose main highway boasts just one lane each way, to an enormous, bustling metropolis where she was thrown into an industry known for its harshness and scrutiny. Having only just finished high school, she was jet setting off to the other side of the world at 18; at the same age that I, in February of this year, moved from Melbourne to Canberra – even an interstate move was enough for me! Not to mention, the displaced feeling that would have come from moving into her absolute own place (or hotel room – she didn’t have the first-year guarantee like all of us!)

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On 1 March this year, Lorde posted a link to the website imwaitingforit.com on Facebook along with the caption: “you’ll wanna come back here at 8am nz / 2pm nyc for a couple of days..” This got the ball rolling for me as I contemplated whether I should miss my morning sport to listen to what was to come. I asked my sister to wake up for me, film it and then show me later, ensuring her that I would not need her services for the rest of the week. Unsurprisingly, she not-too-politely declined. This meant, for me, that from that moment until after breakfast I would be waiting and refreshing. Surely enough ‘Green Light’ dropped that morning and I knew from then that her new album was going to be good.

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In an interview with i-Q, Lorde expresses rediscovering her life through synaesthesia, and it is clear that she has drawn on this discovery as an inspiration for ‘Green Light’. In the music video for this song, Lorde dances in a sea of colour, and she invites us, her audience, to dance with her. Placing ‘Green Light’ as the opening track of her new album and releasing it early as a single is important because Lorde is showing her audience, her fans, that she has grown up, wants to dance, and wants us to join the party. This shows a strong progression from the watching as a wallflower phase we saw in her first album, Pure Heroine – especially in the song ‘White Teeth Teens’ where she is adamant that she herself isn’t a “white teeth teen” nor could she ever be. Throughout Melodrama, she’s ventured down the stairs and hit the dance floor. Lorde made a statement by putting this song first as it is so different from the Pure Heroine soundtrack. She’s made it clear from the outset that she has grown up from her adolescence, and that her new album was going to be different.

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Melodrama dropped on 16 June and all I could think was: “I’m ready!”

We’re thrown into ‘Sober’. Being a university student I must admit that the line I always remember from this song is the repeated hook: “What will we do when we’re sober?” But in all seriousness, this song does give us an insight into Lorde’s new scene – she is partying in New York amongst an exuberant showcase of expenses and luxury, drinking and hook-ups. And yet, we are still reminded that she is a Kiwi girl at heart, and learn that she actually made her way back to Auckland to write this album as the grungier scene of New Zealand helps her to write. One could say that the parties and the New Zealand lifestyle are more genuine, well to Lorde at least. I also love how she has revisited her darker songs in the more upbeat reprises – ‘Sober II (Melodrama)’ and ‘Liability (Reprise)’ – not least of all because I am always up for more, but also because Lorde’s Facebook bio says “let’s dance” and I’m more than happy to oblige.

Lorde seems to be beginning to understand the realities of womanhood in the 21st century; she is no longer an adolescent in Melodrama, but is being thrown headfirst into adult life.

Arguably the most powerful song on the album is ‘The Louvre’, and sees Lorde experiencing new love and heartbreak as a woman thrusted out of a small town and into the unfamiliar bustle that is New York. The true tax of a lost love encounters us when we dance and sing to Lorde’s heartbreak, we experience it with her – I ask you to listen to the lyrics more deeply next time the song comes on, listen to what Lorde is going through and experience it with her. ‘The Louvre’ is full of brilliant one-liners, which I fully appreciate as I am knit-picky like that. She sings about being hung in The Louvre, “down the back, but who cares, still The Louvre.” This could be a connection to the ideas in ‘Sober’; Lorde takes a step back from the spotlight as she finds herself down the back, though still experiencing some of the fame and glamour.

On top of all this, Lorde seems to be beginning to understand the realities of womanhood in the 21st century; she is no longer an adolescent in Melodrama, but is being thrown headfirst into adult life. The realities expressed in ‘Liability’ truly resonated with me; Lorde explains that people were “bored of me.” Indeed, as a woman, far too many times we find we must speak up more and work harder for people’s attention than men do, whilst simultaneously being degraded for seeming overly dramatic and emotional. Lorde is brave to put her experiences of heartbreak and feelings of inadequacy out there for public scrutiny. We must remember that even now in the workforce women still experience inequality, particularly within the music industry. Triple J’s Hack found that only one in five registered Australian music writers were female, and as Lorde writes her own songs, despite being across the pond, it can be assumed the odds she faces are very similar. Nonetheless, Lorde addresses her feelings of inadequacy and heartbreak head-on, even down to the slightly tongue-in-cheek title of Melodrama – she is unapologetically embracing this slightly more indulgent and reflective side of life.

After an extensive journey through Lorde’s experience of early adulthood, we reach the end of the tracklist, where we see her pull us back in and remind us why we loved her in the first place. The importance of ‘Perfect Places’ predominantly lies in its positioning on the album; where ‘Green Light’ set the tone for a new Lorde, distinct from her 16-year-old self, ‘Perfect Places’ is the song that is most similar to those on her first album. It is almost as if she is saying: “You have heard what the 20-year-old me has been up to, but please don’t just leave it there, take a step back and remember my homage to my teenage days.” In ‘Perfect Places,’ Lorde explicitly labels herself as 19, immortalising her teenage self, and finishing off Melodrama with a glance at the past.

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Study up on Lorde’s beautiful, poignant lyrics. I’m sure I’ll see you all at Mooseheads next Thursday night, jamming out to these brilliant tunes.