by Ryan Fine

“…this is that drunk girl at the party dancing around crying about her ex-boyfriend who everyone thinks is a mess. That’s her tonight and tomorrow she starts to rebuild.” – Lorde (Beats 1 Radio)

It’s been four years since New Zealand singer-songwriter Ella Yelich-O’Connor, better known as Lorde, took over the world with her clever, lyrically dense pop breakthrough “Royals”. The album that followed it, Pure Heroine, mostly followed the same subject matter as its first single, dealing with disillusionment toward suburban life. It was noticeably toned down, sort of influenced by trip-hop music, and a lot more insightful than you would expect from a 17-year-old girl.

Since then, Lorde has been busy curating movie soundtracks and generally living life with only enough time left over to release a couple of standalone songs. Now it’s finally time for her to make her triumphant return. With “Green Light”, the lead single from her highly anticipated second album, Melodrama, Lorde sees herself embrace the pop music zeitgeist in full. It is not devoid of the unique lines that originally made her stand out, but the subtlety of Pure Heroine is gone, and she now veers closer to the shouted chorus territory of Icona Pop or Charli XCX.

On a first listen to “Green Light”, it’s easy to mistake it for being a happy song. The pounding beat and dance-like piano instrumentals make it feel like your average upbeat dance anthem. On a slightly closer look, it turns out this is actually Lorde’s first-ever undisputable breakup song. The Grant Singer-directed music video, which shows the pop star morosely wandering through the streets of Los Angeles, confirms that it isn’t about a pleasant experience, and the singer herself is quoted as saying that she wrote it about her “first major heartbreak”.

Of course, as harsh as it sounds, breakup songs have been done countless times before, and in that sense she’s really not blazing any new trails. In a way, though, the fact that she is now writing about the same thing as everyone else is an evolution for Lorde, simply because she has never done it before. It’s interesting to see her take on this trope for that reason alone. Her sense of melody is impeccable as always, and she still uses the necessary imagery to help us understand her rash anger (“Those great whites, they have big teeth / Hope they bite you”). Despite all this, “Green Light” is not Lorde at her most imaginative, and I hope she ends up going a bit deeper at other points on her new album.

Even if this is not a perfect song, it’s good to see Lorde finally arrive back on the scene. Her sound has not necessarily been missing, but that’s only because so many other pop artists have tried to emulate it in the years since “Team” and “Tennis Court”. That’s the only disappointing thing about this new track. Even though it’s a well-written song that expertly treads the line between catchy and emotional, there’s nothing new here to influence the way other artists make music. This isn’t a song people are going to complain about hearing on the radio; in fact, there’s no reason to think they won’t legitimately enjoy it or even love it. For the moment, though, Lorde is more of a follower than a leader, so even though “Green Light” is a very good song, I’m not yet ready to call it a great one.

All Images From: Anyarena

Green Light

7.2 Good

Lorde has come back with yet another enjoyable track, and one of her most pop-oriented songs to date. A lot of people were looking forward to another Lorde single just hoping for a new song they could dance or cry to, and those people are going to love this song. However, the smooth production and the standard pop format mean that Lorde had to lose much of what originally set her apart from everyone else. Those of us who wanted to see her take a bigger step into the relatively uncharted pop territory of Pure Heroine will have to wait until at least this summer.

  • Production 9.5
  • Songwriting 8
  • Innovation 4

Ryan is a Music Media Production major who wrote the first ever Byte music review and has been involved with nearly every other section at some point. He is also an event planner at Village Green Records and the primary booking coordinator for the store’s outdoor concerts.

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