Lorde is on the cusp of releasing her sophomore album, Melodrama — the follow-up to the defining debut Pure Heroine — and has been making the rounds on the press circuit in support of it. Today her cover story with The New York Times magazine hit stands, and it’s a delicious profile of the young Kiwi star, who seems to have remained as down to earth as she was when I spoke to her at 16, before she blew up.
In a fascinating, lovely profile written by Jonah Weiner — check out his work if you’re unfamiliar — Lorde takes us through her time spent in a 24 hour New York diner called The Flame, and all the anguish and behind writing Melodrama. What might be most compelling, though, in a series of their conversations, are her thoughts on pop music. Her thoughts can be described as literally the most poptimist thing you will ever read.
Poptimism, of course, refers to the pushback against the early thinking and critical framing that pop music is deeply chintz and could never live up to the artistic merit and value of rock or folk or even hip-hop. Pop remains the butt of every joke on some level, but to Lorde, pop music is holy:
“I have such reverence for the form. A lot of musicians think they can do pop, and the ones who don’t succeed are the ones who don’t have the reverence — who think it’s just a dumb version of other music. You need to be awe-struck. [On “Teenage Dream”] There’s this sadness about it, where you feel young listening to it, but you feel impermanence at the same time,” Lorde said. “When I put that song on, I’m as moved as I am by anything by David Bowie, by Fleetwood Mac, by Neil Young. It lets you feel something you didn’t know you needed to feel. There’s something holy about it.”
At the end of this, alI am doing is daydreaming of a David Bowie cover of “Teenage Dream.” I’ll keep dreaming, but keep that idea in my back pocket as a description of Lorde’s new album. This is probably why she’s such a great songwriter though.