Lorde is omniscient. She’s normal and weird and strange; she’s unafraid to dance on national television like we all do in our bedrooms and gush over Broken Social Scene like we all do in secret. She has created an illusion of normalcy that is just as believable as it is true; Lorde is your best friend and your little sister and your older brother’s girlfriend that painted her nails black and cut her own hair. She’s every girl that you’ve always wanted to be and every facet of your own personality that you’ve grown to love.
When Royals found its way to the Top 100 charts, the public didn’t know what to do with her; writhing and twitching and twisting in front of a microphone stand, Lorde’s unapologetic confidence and effortlessness didn’t blend well into the industry. She fell straight in the middle of the crux of the music industry; what sells more—personability or godliness? She was unglued to the calculability of the pop industry, yet she didn’t fit into the suffocating alternative label. The fact that such an enigma ascended to the mainstream (for a lack of a better term) and was able to preserve her position at the apex of the public’s fascination was unheard of.
She isn’t the girl next door. What separates her from the humblebraggadocio of the music industry is that she was cognizant of her own fate from the opening verse of the first track on The Love Club; where artists scramble to ground and chain themselves to their modest roots, Lorde pushed her listeners to swim with her through her journey between the innocuous past and the present. Her music isn’t pining for anything in particular; it’s the personification of Descartes’ cogito ergo sum, confident and self-fulfilling and glorious.
Lorde’s music is the sound of suburban boredom that has become lost in a toxic cocktail of fantasy and glamour. She created her own realm of opulence within each verse of every song she scrawled out on loose-leaf paper; familiar overgrown stucco and cracked drywall were traded in for golden architecture and marbleized shrines of everyone she has every idolized, curfews became death sentences for making something creative out of the forbidden, and obsession became less like a childlike recreation and more like I Love Dick. Pure Heroine clung onto the novelty of teenage-hood while also accepting the inevitability of growing up. Pure Heroine was ready to embrace the absurdity of the cross-bridge that separated youth and adulthood, an unjaded place where time seems to stop and nothing ever makes sense.
She was able to pull luxury out of dullness. Every little thing that was deemed mundane—white walls, acne, black eyes, Coca-Cola—was fairground for her to fetishize and worship; clean teeth and bruises became signs of royalty (soon before the throne became tiresome) and fistfights and buzzcuts were just another sign of struggling to adhere to innocence. She clung onto the things that train your brain how to lucid dream; her lyrics were a love-letter to incongruity, lines pulled out of a dream journal that documented every fever dream that you can’t quite get out of your head. Church organs and Windsurfing Nation became national anthems within the cult created in her brain (where sentimentality, sickly sadness, and strange magic can be milked out of every single grain).
Lorde is just as untouchable as she is human. Where she once stressed her fear of stays in foreign hotels losing their magic and flying on her first airplane, she now indulges in handmade Valentino pieces, works with Grant Singer, and collaborates with the likes of Jack Antonoff and Disclosure. She’s friends with Tavi Gevinson, Aziz Ansari, and Taylor Swift, but aren’t we all in our imaginations? Isn’t she just living out our fantasies, and isn’t desire just a matter of attainment and going about it in the right way? (Do we all live vicariously through Lorde?)
Lorde isn’t an old soul. She’s right here, right now. She’s cut her hair and cut her teeth on Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl. Where Pure Heroine was slightly nervous—but wholly coolheaded—for the future, one can only hope that Melodrama is the aftermath. Melodrama can be her Both Sides Now—or her Have One On Me—or her magnum opus. Whether or not its lyrics will profess how she was able to digest success, Melodrama will be a forlorn love-letter to the ruins of the city she once built upon fantasies and the bare bones of the newly-erected metropolis that she constructed from reality.