Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Ro – Lorde’s Melodrama
There’s this hot topic around my dinner table at the moment. We talk about integrity and ‘authenticity’ in the catalogue of massive pop artists. It’s a pretty weird thing to try and dissect, as authenticity is such a subjective aspect of art. However, in my humble opinion, Melodrama, you are authentically awesome, okay? Every song on you is beautifully crafted, accessible pop, with Lorde’s playful, intellectual integrity.
Earlier this year, I shared a bottle of cheap sparkling wine with my friend and walked to the Sydney Myer Music Bowl. We couldn’t afford tickets then (ha ha) so we stood outside the fence on the hill to get a glimpse of Lorde performing. She was electric. Captivating and sincere. She also made us wide-eyed suckers feel really included and important in the whole experience. From where we stood, we could only see the big screens showing the performance. We saw a little bit of her in the flesh as she danced and sang around the stage. I was still immersed, still touched.
Through every love song, Lorde’s so good at telling the ‘coming of age’ story. She tells it without telling it, we work it out ourselves. We’re not treated like idiots. She does this through infectious pop hooks, visceral vignettes, punchy imagery, poetic simplicity. Like everyone, she’s experienced the weird, murky road between adolescence to adulthood. The difference is that she’s been a global sensation since she was 16. She left her childhood behind in New Zealand, touring the world and living in LA for the last 7 years.
Lorde’s good at drawing inspiration from some of the bittersweet consequences of stardom. She talks about attraction and longing, alongside the glorified idea that stardom is all party and glamour. She does this in lyrics like “It’s just another graceless night” (‘Perfect Places’) and “We’ll end up on the road, red and chrome, all the broken glass sparkling / I guess we’re partying” (‘Homemade Dynamite’). Another favourite line is “I am my mother’s child / I love you ‘til my breathing stops / I love you ‘til you call the cops on me” (‘Writer in the Dark’). These lyrics are so raw and relatable because of that stark, romantic imagery. Yeah, love and longing are such universal themes, but here they’re re-imagined through the fantasy of stardom and celebrity culture. Lorde shows me a picture of heartache tangled up with the self-affirmation of success. Through all the pretty poeticism, find it so honest and unembellished.
We’re all so wrapped up in social media and insta-gratification. We’re hungry for presentation and perfection. We’re placated by art and information at the click of a button. There’s so much out there. In that idea of quantity VS quality, it seems like integrity gets lost in translation. But Melodrama, your integrity is a stand-out. You show how Lorde is true to herself and her art despite juggling a highly scrutinised and unpredictable art career. And like everyone, she’s in the pursuit of adulthood and connection.
It’s awesome that these clever pop bangers are written to be unpretentious and accessible, so that listeners can easily relate it to their own lives. I can’t help but reflect on my own heart and mind when listening. Each song makes me grin, makes my eyes shiny and wet. Whether I’m listening on the tram, or when I’m blasting the lil portable speaker in the shower.
Thanks for inspiring me. Thanks for reminding me that everybody is soul-searching, everyone is vulnerable like me. Even Lorde, and the superwoman that she is.
Melbourne-via-WA songwriter Ro’s sassy new single ‘F**ked Up Over You’ is out now. Check it below.