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It’s Not a Breakup Album: Lorde’s “Melodrama” Considered

Meghan Jaczko, Staff Writer

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In the wake of a break-up with her long term boyfriend, Lorde put together a dynamic album. The second album she has written, Melodrama is composed of 11 songs that takes place over one night. The songs cover heartbreak and adulthood as Lorde has said in an interview with “The New York Times,” “It’s a record about being alone. The good and the bad parts.”

The first song, “Green Light,” describes Lorde getting ready to go to a house party. “Green Light” is one of the faster songs in the album, and it starts with dynamic lyrics. Unlike a lot of her previous songs, “Green Light” doesn’t feature heavy beats, and it has no introduction. This makes the song very different than the other songs on the record. It also explains that Lorde is trying to get over a breakup. She’s trying to move and she’s waiting for that to happen.

“Sober” is the second song and it follows “Green Light’s” lead as it is also upbeat and out of the ordinary. The attention grabbing intro uses blasting lyrics keep you riveted. There are trumpets in the song that provide a fresh counter-melody, and the lyrics explain that Lorde is still attached to the person she is no longer with. The song embodies the want and need to get away from reality, party, and have fun.

Then, the tempo slows down, and the style is more similar to Lorde’s first studio album, Pure Heroine. “Homemade Dynamite” describes that point in a party when you meet someone new, and you start to make a connection with them. Lorde talks about showing this person the best side of her, even if that means having to lie, because she feels as though she and this new friend are very similar; they are both damaged and different. Then, she goes on to declare that things will come “out of the woodwork,” and their friendship will develop on its own, despite any hardships they face. The unusual title of “Homemade Dynamite” most likely refers to a self-made playlist full of party music, and “blowing it up” means that everyone is having fun.

“The Louvre” is a soft song that elicits an emotional response in the listener. It tells the story of two lovers, who have just started to love each other, and the anxiety that comes with a new relationship. However, at the bridge, the lyrics change from being soft and sweet to being upset and bitter. Lorde realizes she wasn’t the one that ended the relationship. Lorde even includes the line, “Can you hear the violence? Megaphone to my chest,” to show that her heart has been broken. “The Louvre” unveils the story of being incredibly in love in a short amount of time and then having your heart broken.

The fifth song on the album is by far the most haunting and beautiful one. “Liability” recounts how Lorde was considered to be too much by her boyfriend’s standards. She has lost all of her relationships because of that; now all she has is herself. She also mentions how making every summer a perfect summer is exhausting and emotionally draining. The juxtaposition of the soft piano and the harsh reality of the words causes listeners to come back and relisten, and, as they do, they discover something new each time.

“Hard feelings/Loveless” are two separate songs on the same track. The songs are very different from one another, so it’s interesting that they were put together. “Hard feelings” is an emotionally raw song which Lorde displays her feelings about breaking up and dealing with what happens afterwards. It starts off with Lorde and the guy deciding that separation would be the best thing for them. She doesn’t want to leave him, but she feels she must; this is where the difficult feelings about love come into play. Lorde feels as though she has outgrown the person she loves, so she must move on. The grating sounds of metal scraping in the background are unnerving, but they capture how it feels to leave someone you still love. Another part of the song explains how Lorde starts to love herself instead of spending all of her love on her boyfriend. “Hard Feelings” is my favorite song on the album because it takes an intricate event, and it strips down all of the complexity and presents you with a core of emotion. “Loveless” is a bubbly song that takes being ignored and turns it into something that our generation does to show our “love.” It talks about how getting your heart destroyed is normal, and it’s a way of showing affection. “Loveless” is much shorter than “Hard Feelings” and it is less complex in terms of melodies and latent meaning.

“Sober II (Melodrama)” starts off with a regal sounding intro, followed by Lorde’s soft voice. This track is the most different from anything Lorde has produced before. The soft and haunting lyrics are backed by violins and a piano. Halfway through the song, a thumping beat is dropped and the style changes to something more serious and sinister. Lorde explains how being famous is very artificial; you are always talked about, and expected to provide a certain entertainment for people. She continues on to say “We told you this was melodrama,” so she knows that she’s putting on a show for others. Lorde is being overly dramatic because people expect her to be. “Sober II (Melodrama)” is an incredibly important song on the album because it shows part of Lorde’s personal experience in being famous.

Like “Hard Feelings” and other songs on the album, “Writer in the Dark” revolves around Lorde’s termination of her three year relationship. She recounts how her boyfriend was unsupportive, unappreciative of her talents, and of the way she loved him. Lorde believed that she would always be in love with him, but now she realizes that she will survive without him in her life. The shifts from high notes to gravely low ones provides the listener with an auditory rollercoaster. With a piano melody and swinging vocals, “Writer in the Dark” is one of the songs on the album at shows how Lorde has grown as an artist.

“Supercut” is very similar to the songs from Pure Heroine; it’s electronic with pop-like beats and intricate lyrics that make you think. Since supercut is defined as being “a collection of short clips, usually showing a cliched action,” this song could be explaining how their entire relationship was repetitive and monotonous. But she only focuses on the good parts of her relationship, which causes her to view them in a very romanticized way. Lorde repeats how she “did everything just right;” she was a good girlfriend and she considered herself to be very flexible and forgiving. Although “Supercut” reminds the listener of her older songs, Lorde uses this song to show how she has changed as a person.

“Liability (Reprise)” is the sobering sister-song to “Liability.” It echos the style of “Liability,” but it provides a response to what “Liability” is claiming. The lyrics start by repeating the hurtful things that were said in “Liability,” and then Lorde goes on to question if this is what life is really like. After a long pause in the vocals, the line “But you’re not what you thought you were” is repeated until the song fades out. The background beats are something that is directly from Pure Heroine, giving this song a nostalgic feel, and the defiant mood, as Lorde tells the person they are wrong, makes this song easy to listen and re-listen to.

Now, it is the end of the party, and Lorde is reflecting back on the night she had. “Perfect Places” tackles the issues of finding a place where you can, unapologetically, be yourself. The song also recounts how she struggled to remain herself after becoming famous, and how she couldn’t stand being told where to go and what to do. Lorde also uses this song as a means to shed light on how teens will use alcohol to feel better and be comforted. “Perfect Places” is different from the rest of the album because it is not as alternative sounding and it takes on more of a pop vibe. The layering of vocals and the driving beat makes this a perfect summer song.

Melodrama is a good album to listen to at a party or alone, and I think Lorde wanted it to be that way. It showcases the struggle of staying true to yourself, of breaking up with someone you loved, and of the difficulties of learning your self worth. It also helps a generation of teenagers express how they are feeling and it lets them feel as though it is okay to feel that way. Lorde understands that growing up is hard and she uses that to write relatable songs.

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It’s Not a Breakup Album: Lorde’s “Melodrama” Considered