What Lorde Gets About Pop Music That So Many Other Stars Miss

When Lorde’s new single “Green Light” dropped last week I was traveling out of the country to cover a big rap story, so I wasn’t totally in pop music mode. New time zones and surprise album releases meant my mind was elsewhere, despite all of her hints, and when the song finally broke it still almost took me by surprise. Lorde has a way of doing that, even when you see her coming.

That’s the way it felt four years ago when Pure Heroine hit, and swept everyone in America away, eventually picking up Grammys that haven’t been won by a woman in years. But it’s been even longer than that since her very early The Love Club EP from 2013. In between those two releases was when I discovered her music and interviewed her for the first time. Since Pigeons & Planes was one of — if not the first — North American sites to talk with Ella, I’ve always felt very connected to her story.

Lorde is such a fun pop star to be a fan of, because she understands so much about what makes people connect to music and what makes a fan a fan, that plenty of other pop stars miss. She’s also a really f*cking good songwriter, and genuinely seems to enjoy creating an otherworldly dramatic backdrop for these incredible songs. One of the main reasons she has this understanding, I think, is because she’s still able to be such a fan herself; her own success hasn’t hindered her ability to get excited and goofy when it comes to other celebrities, musicians, artists etc.

So during a lull before a scheduled press conference during the trip, I got out headphones and listened to “Green Light” for the first time. It was a glorious, glossy return to form; all pent up aggression and side-eyed lust. It’s all club darkness and breakup sex tension and sneering contempt for the ones who aren’t in on the betrayal — it’s the kind of song you could jump up on top of your car and wail and headbang to, so Lorde does just that.

The best part of “Green Light,” though, is that it’s a song about the pain of losing love that still finds strength in the power of being alone. She’s singing about wanting to let go, and feeling so let down by someone else, while understanding that part of this moment of grief is a signal to move forward. She isn’t afraid to be out of control in a song about her biggest heartache, and then let it be turned into something funny, big, and joyous.

And though all of Lorde’s songs are self-serious — great love song have to be in order to work — she’s also not above laughing at them and herself, or laughing at the way we use enormous pop songs to soundtrack our trashier moments. Enter, this tweet shared by T. Kyle over the weekend:

Yes, it is “Green Light” set to snippets of dramatic moments from The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills. While plenty of pop stars would decry association with this kind of reality TV, or simply ignore the meme, Lorde interacted with it herself. And she didn’t just say that she enjoyed it, or laugh, she elevated the show above herself:

There’s nothing that fans love more than experiencing the humanity of someone who seems larger than life, and Lorde’s causal habit of making herself seem small is what is propelling her to become one of the biggest stars in pop. The trick is, you don’t actually lose anything but being vulnerable and funny, it just makes people feel more connected. And when Lorde does it, t never feels forced either, I would bet she definitely does watch the show and respects these women for turning their daily life into a hustle. After all, isn’t that what pop stars do, too?

Look for Lorde’s sophomore album Melodrama out this summer.