- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
The songs are rich with vivid lyrics, interwoven metaphors, and subtle nods to Lorde's real life.
Below you'll find a track-by-track breakdown of "Solar Power" with details you may have missed.
"The Path" was the first song Lorde wrote for the album.
Lorde is the only songwriter credited for "The Path." She revealed in her "Solar Power" lyrics booklet, which is included in her CD-alternative "music box," that it was the first song she ever wrote entirely alone.
The song starts with an autobiographical couplet: "Born in the year of OxyContin, raised in the tall grass / Teen millionaire having nightmares from the camera flash."
Lorde was born in 1996, the same year that OxyContin, a highly addictive narcotic, was developed and patented by Purdue Pharma. The company recently pled guilty to three felonies related to its role in the opioid epidemic.
The second line refers to Lorde's whirlwind rise to fame when she released her debut single, "Royals," at age 16. The song spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, won two Grammy Awards, and became the 11th song in history to earn a diamond certification.
The second verse of "The Path" describes Lorde's experience at the 2016 Met Gala, the famously star-studded fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
At 19, Lorde attended as a guest for the second time, wearing a gown by Valentino and a cast on her left arm. The theme was "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology."
"Fork in my purse to take home to my mother / Supermodels all dancing 'round a pharaoh's tomb," Lorde sings. She describes the scene as an awe-struck, slightly cynical outsider. In the lyrics booklet, she revealed that her mother still has the fork in question.
The song's chorus and outro focus on the song's two central themes: "Now if you're looking for a savior, well, that's not me" and "I just hope the sun will show us the path."
These lyrics tackle and dismantle the modern idea of celebrity worship, urging Lorde's listeners not to place her on a pedestal.
"I'm aware of the way people look at me. I can feel the huge amount of love and devotion that people have for me — and for people in my position — and straightaway, I wanted to be like, 'I'm not the one that's worthy of your devotion. I'm essentially like you,'" she told the New York Times.
"Solar Power" plays with Lorde's reputation as a spiritual guide.
Despite her unplugged life in New Zealand, Lorde is familiar with her particular reputation online.
"My kids — my community — they're expecting spiritual transcendence from me, from these works," she told the New York Times. "'I need Lorde to come back and tell me how to feel, tell me how to process this period in my life!'"
In lead single "Solar Power," she satirizes the idea introduced in "The Path," conflating her career as a pop star with a false god persona. In the New York Times video series "Diary of a Song," Lorde said she wanted the lyrics to conjure a "kind of cult leader" energy: "I say 'let the bliss begin.' Like, I'm a maniac."
The lyrics describe a utopic community where Lorde guides her followers to salvation: "Lead the boys and girls onto the beaches / Come one, come all, I'll tell you my secrets / I'm kinda like a prettier Jesus."
This also feels like a winking callback to "Green Light," the lead single from "Melodrama." In the first verse, Lorde chastizes her ex for lying to his new lover: "She thinks you love the beach, you're such a damn liar." Now it makes sense why she took this so personally; Lorde actually does love the beach.
The production on "Solar Power" was inspired by Len's 1999 hit "Steal My Sunshine" and early-aughts pop groups like S Club 7. If you listen closely, you can hear snippets of cicadas and crashing waves, which Lorde said she's been recording on her phone for years.
Lorde has also described the Scottish rock band Primal Scream as "the spiritual forebears of this song," and their 1990 song "Loaded" as "the original blueprint." Lead vocalist Bobby Gillespie gave "Solar Power" his blessing when Lorde privately reached out.
"California" opens with Lorde rehashing the 2014 Grammy Awards.
In the lyrics booklet, Lorde dedicated this song in part to "the 2014 Grammys, secrets in escalades, drunk starlets."
"Once upon a time in Hollywood / When Carole called my name / I stood up, the room exploded, and I / Knew that's it, I'll never be the same," she sings in the first verse.
The Carole in question is legendary singer-songwriter Carole King, who announced Lorde's "Royals" as the winner for song of the year.
The opening line could also be a reference to Quentin Tarantino's 2019 film, "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood," an ode to '60s Los Angeles glamour.
Lorde continues with a reflection on her preternatural success: "Now I've spent thousands on you, darling / All the hotels and the jets / And I'd pay it all again to have your golden body back in my bed."
Lorde previously used hotels to symbolize fame in "Royals" ("Bloodstains, ball gowns, trashin' the hotel room") and "Still Sane" ("I still like hotels, but I think that'll change / Still like hotels and my newfound fame"), both songs from her debut album "Pure Heroine."
The "golden body" may refer back to the Grammy Award she received from Carole, or simply the glitz of Hollywood, since California is known as the "golden state."
Lorde also name-drops brands to evoke the materialism she wants to escape — reminiscent of the critical, yet slightly hypocritical stance she took in "Royals." While she once quietly yearned for the luxuries she resented, now she has the money and freedom to indulge, if she so chooses.
"Oh, once upon a time, the Canyon store / Was where my world began," she sings in the second verse, likely referring to a store "in the heart of Hollywood" that stocks items inspired by "Los Angeles' '70s Canyon counter culture and music community."
"Bye to the kids in the lines for the new Supreme," she sings in the pre-chorus, calling out the American streetwear brand with a notoriously devoted following.
The hyper-specific modern references combined with the Laurel Canyon-inspired instrumentation makes "California" feel like an ode to Joan Didion's "The White Album," published in 1979. The autobiographical essay centers on Didion's life in Los Angeles in the '60s.
"California belongs to Joan Didion," New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani wrote at the time. "Joan Didion's California is a place defined not so much by what her unwavering eye observes, but by what her memory cannot let go."
"Stoned at the Nail Salon" explores the aftermath of Lorde's decision to leave California.
Lorde wrote this song after wrapping her Melodrama World Tour in 2018 and returning home to New Zealand.
"The first couple months of it were incredible," she wrote in an email to fans. "But eventually, of course, the insecurity that this was my life now, that I wasn't a titan of industry, but someone who just… cooked and walked the dog and gardened crept in."
"I was sure that I was building a beautiful life for myself, but I wasn't sure if that life was going to satisfy the same thirsty, fearless person who could tear apart a festival stage or be in seven countries in seven days," she continued. "I know now that as hard as I try to run towards or away one of the sides of my life, they're both very much who I am."
In the lyrics booklet, Lorde revealed that she originally wrote the song's central line ("I don't know, maybe I'm just stoned at the nail salon") as a joke, "before realizing it was beautiful."
The first verse sees Lorde reflecting on her quiet domestic life. It's largely content, yet laced with doubt.
Her ambivalence is represented by a "wishbone drying on the windowsill," which she keeps on stand-by just in case, almost like a loaded weapon.
"I love this life that I have / The vine hanging over the door / And the dog who comes when I call / But I wonder sometimes what I'm missing," she sings, referring to her puppy Pearl, who died while she was working on "Solar Power."
Pearl's brief mention, which is immediately followed by Lorde's fear of "missing," foreshadows the loss and grief explored in "Big Star."
In the pre-chorus, Lorde sings of her "hot blood" and says "it's time to cool it down." This echoes her thought process in "California" and decision to stay in New Zealand long-term, away from the limelight.
The second verse begins with a callback to Lorde's "Melodrama" era: "Got a memory of waiting in your bed wearing only my earrings / We'd go dancing all over the landmines under our town."
As Lorde revealed in an email, the first line is "set in the same bedroom" as the first verse in "The Louvre" ("Half of my wardrobe is on your bedroom floor").
"I really love building in those little links and connections between past eras, and I try to be really careful and intentional with how I use language in songs," she wrote.
The second line is likely a reference to "Homemade Dynamite," which uses explosives as a metaphor for youth and drunken hedonism.
The next line sums up the thesis of the song: "But the sun has to rise." Lorde has decided to leave many relics of her past behind, opting instead for a mature life surrounded by nature.
In the second chorus, Lorde seems to address her audience directly: "'Cause all the music you loved at 16 you'll grow out of / And all the times they will change, it'll all come around."
Lorde was 16 when she released her debut studio album, which sounds worlds away from "Solar Power." This could be Lorde giving her fans permission to move on and grow up, just as she has, if they don't like her new direction.
"I'd ride and I'd ride on the carousel / 'Round and 'round forever if I could," she sings in the bridge.
This metaphor could be inspired by "The Circle Game" by Joni Mitchell ("We're captive on the carousel of time"), whom Lorde has cited as a major songwriting inspiration.
"Fallen Fruit" is about our impending climate disaster.
Lorde began writing this song during a flight to Los Angeles.
"There's always a slightly kind of unhinged or unfiltered quality to songs I write on planes," she told Apple Music.
"To the ones who came before us / All the golden ones who were lifted on a wing" calls back to the golden imagery of "California," used to evoke consumerism and opulence.
"I had been very careful before that point about not being preachy or like, 'Hi, I'm a pop star and this is my climate change album,'" Lorde said. "But I just had this moment where I was like, 'This is the great loss of our lives and this will be what comes to define all of our lives and our world will be unrecognizable for my children.'"
She described "Fallen Fruit" as a "flower child's lament." In the pre-chorus, Lorde sings of "psychedelic garlands in our hair," paying tribute to the hippie movement and psych-rock music of the '60s.
She also summons Biblical imagery, particularly the Garden of Eden, from which humans were expelled when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit: "Through the halls of splendor where the apple trees all grew / You'll leave us dancing on the fallen fruit."
These lyrics recall "Perfect Places," the 11th and final song on "Melodrama." The first verse hints at Lorde's climate anxiety ("I hate the headlines and the weather") before the song devolves into an existential, world-weary search for some kind of sanctuary (in the music video, she seems to find refuge in nature, fittingly).
In the bridge of "Fallen Fruit," Lorde name-drops the car manufacturer Nissan, as well as the Rolls-Royce Phantom. She also mentions a plane, indicting herself in the 29% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by transportation.
"We'll disappear in the cover of the rain," she continues. "Took the great minds and the vapers / And a pocketful of seed / It's time for us to leave."
Lorde said this set of lyrics describes an imagined haven, "an escape to somewhere safe that takes place in the future when our world has become uninhabitable."
Lorde was inspired to write "Secrets From a Girl (Who's Seen it All)" while listening to her old song "Ribs."
Once again, this song sees Lorde celebrating her newfound maturity. Here, she addresses her younger self directly.
"Dancing with my girls, only having two drinks, then leaving / It's a funny thing, thought you'd never gain self-control," she sings in the first verse. This illustrates her growth since "Melodrama," which follows the arc of an extravagant, turbulent house party.
"You've had enough, gotta turn the lights up, go home" feels like a callback to "Sober II (Melodrama)," which includes the lyric, "Lights are on and they've gone home / But who am I?"
The dominant feeling of "Ribs" is fear — of growing up, losing innocence, never feeling this good again. Lorde once told the crowd at a concert, "It scared me to think of having one foot in that adult world because who says that we can go back? ... This is the thought that keeps me up at night, all the time."
In "Secrets," Lorde reassures this version of herself. She's "seen it all" and knows it's going to be OK.
Indeed, Lorde revealed on Spotify that she was inspired to write this song while listening to "Ribs" and "thinking about who I was at that time of life."
"I was so apprehensive about what was to come," she wrote. "I took two of the chords from that song and reversed them."
In the lyrics booklet, Lorde said she wrote the song's second verse when the loss of her dog was still "fresh" ("'Member what you thought was grief before you got the call? / Baby girl, no one's gonna feel the pain for you").
The song's spoken-word outro is delivered by Robyn, who plays "a surreal flight attendant." Robyn is often credited with transforming pop music in the early 2010s and inspiring a new generation of experimental stars, including Lorde herself.
Robyn's 2010 album "Body Talk," particularly the standout track "Dancing On My Own," heavily influenced Lorde's "Melodrama." In fact, during the album's creation, Lorde kept a framed photo of the Swedish singer on hand in the studio.
"The Man With the Axe" is a self-professed love song, likely written for Lorde's reported boyfriend, Justin Warren.
"The Man With the Axe" describes a devoted, solid relationship: "Our shapes in the dark are the reason I've stayed / For all these years," Lorde sings, and later, "We've been through so many hard times." These lyrics nod to a long-term love, rather than a new flame.
The song opens with a sweet couplet: "If I had to break it down / I'd say it's the way you love to dance."
This flips a sentiment from "The Louvre," which is about an obsessive crush rather than a committed partner ("Can you hear the violence? / Megaphone to my chest / Broadcast the boom, boom, boom, boom / And make 'em all dance to it").
In "The Louvre," Lorde rips her heart open for the enjoyment of others, asking us to dance to her emotional "violence." But in "The Man With the Axe," it's her lover who dances to please her.
Throughout the song, Lorde describes how this person grounds her amid the anxiety and absurdity of fame: "I've got hundreds of gowns, I've got paintings in frames / And a throat that fills with panic every festival day / Dutifully falling apart for the Princess of Norway."
In the lyrics booklet, Lorde revealed she "really did have a panic attack in front of the Norweigan Royal Family."
Conversely, her lover is stable and mature. He has an "office job" and "silver hair." His ordinary, reliable stock of "infinite T-shirts" is juxtaposed with her own lavish collections.
In the fourth verse, Lorde says she fell in love with "the boy with the plan." In the final chorus, his identifier becomes "the man with the axe," which reflects his growth alongside hers. "Plan" is an abstract term that implies future action, whereas an axe is a physical object that requires strength to wield. In other words, this man is capable of keeping a promise and following through.
Lorde is the only songwriter credited for "The Man With the Axe." She has described it as "fragile, vulnerable," "cosy," and "very private."
"I'm expressing a huge amount of love and affection for someone," she told Apple Music. "I sort of don't even like thinking about people listening to it because it's just for me."
Since she split from James Lowe in 2015, Lorde has never publicly confirmed anything about her love life. However, the 24-year-old singer has reportedly been dating Universal Music executive Justin Warren for several years.
Warren, who is 17 years Lorde's senior, denied relationship rumors when the pair first stepped out in 2016. However, they've been photographed together several times over the past few years, most recently in October 2020, when they were spotted kissing in Auckland.
The subject of "Dominoes" is a foil for "The Man With the Axe."
Lorde revealed in the lyrics booklet that she wrote this song in 20 minutes after eating a weed gummy. She recorded it the following day at Electric Lady Studios "with the doors wide open," so you can hear the sounds and sirens of New York City in the background of the intro.
"Dominoes" is addressed to a boy, possibly an ex, whom Lorde mockingly refers to as "Mr. Start Again."
"I feel like everyone kind of knows someone like this," she told Apple Music. "It really cracked me up to say, 'It's strange to see you smoking marijuana, you used to do the most cocaine of anyone I've ever met.' We all know that guy."
This guy is characterized as flighty, shallow, and unreliable — standing in stark contrast to the admirable subject of the previous song, "The Man With the Axe."
As music editor Courteney Larocca wrote in our "Solar Power" review: "On the preceding track, Lorde imagines herself as a pine tree standing so tall she's 'halfway to space.' Her partner, then, is a man with an axe, who works to make her fall for him, grounding her in the process."
"But on 'Dominoes,'" Larocca continued, "it's no longer a good thing to take something down: 'You get 50 gleaming chances in a row / And I watch you flick them down like dominoes.' It takes little effort to knock over some dominoes, whereas felling is deliberate and requires commitment."
"Together, these songs show how difficult it is to build a good relationship, and how easy it is to ruin one."
Lorde wrote "Big Star" about her beloved dog, Pearl, while he sat underneath her piano.
Lorde adopted a dog named Pearl in 2018. She began writing "Big Star" on her home piano while he was lying underneath it. She revealed in the lyrics booklet, "I had never loved anyone that much and I was trying to make sense of it. I probably never will."
Tragically, just one year after his adoption, Pearl suffered two cardiac arrests and died. Lorde wrote in a 2019 email to fans that he'd been "ill in various forms his entire life."
"This loss has been indescribably painful, and a light that was turned on for me has gone out," she wrote.
"Big Star" explores grief, a theme she previously broached in "Perfect Places" after the deaths of her idols, Prince and David Bowie ("All of our heroes fading / Now I can't stand to be alone"). However, as she mentioned in "Secrets From a Girl," she didn't truly know what grief felt like until she lost Pearl.
The song opens with a comparison of Pearl's purity and Lorde's shortcomings: "Everyone knows that you're too good for me, don't they? / I'm a cheater, I lie, and I'm shy / But you like to say hello to total strangers."
Lorde expresses a similar insecurity in "Writer in the Dark," the eighth track on "Melodrama" ("Sorry I was never good like you").
This could also be a callback to "Homemade Dynamite," in which Lorde tries to seduce someone by pretending she's better than she is ("I'll give you my best side, tell you all my best lies").
In the pre-chorus of "Big Star," Lorde sings, "But every perfect summer's gotta say goodnight," deliberately flipping a lyric from "Liability" ("But every perfect summer's eating me alive until you're gone").
Throughout "Melodrama," Lorde uses heat and summer to illustrate passion and youth, as in "The Louvre" ("Summer slipped us underneath her tongue"), while winter represents heartbreak and regret in "Hard Feelings/Loveless."
Similarly, in "Big Star," the end of summer represents mortality. "I'll still watch you run through the winter light," she sings, thinking and dreaming about Pearl even after his death.
In the chorus, she compares Pearl to a kind of celebrity: "You're a big star / Wanna take your picture."
"When I see a picture of a loved one, I feel like you get the same chemicals as if I was seeing a celebrity," she explained to Apple Music. "They're famous in my heart."
She also seems to fret about her friends in the final pre-chorus: "Hope the honeybees make it home tonight."
While honeybees could simply represent community and natural cycles of life, Lorde may also be referencing "Royals," in which she describes herself as "Queen Bee."
In this metaphor, Lorde's hive is comprised of her loved ones. While she's home alone, mourning Pearl and "drinking in the dark," perhaps her friends are still counting their dollars on the train to the party. She hopes they come back safely.
"Leader of a New Regime" is a fictional tale set in the "distant or not-so-distant future."
"This song is set in a distant or not-so-distant future, one where the environment is unlivable, society has broken down and we're all escaping to our far-flung natural sanctuaries to start again," Lorde revealed on Spotify.
The first verse paints the portrait of a "former pop star" on her way to safety, "packing nothing but magazines and designer dresses."
The second verse pleads for "somebody, anybody" to emerge from the "lust and paranoia" and build a new community.
"Mood Ring" is written from the perspective of a "vapid" character who craves spiritual connection.
"Part of why this album was so FUN to make was that I got to explore these tropes of people seeking wellness, enlightenment or even utopia," Lorde wrote in an email to fans. "The person who welcomes you to the island in Solar Power video is one, the dude in Dominoes is another, and now we can add this little lady to the mix."
She added: "I'll say it once and then never again: this is satire. She is not me."
The song begins with vague anguish: "I'm tryna blow bubbles, but inside / Can't seem to fix my mood." As Lorde explained to Genius, this girl is "trying to keep it light," but still feels like "the deck is stacked against her."
Lorde has cited Lily Allen's 2008 single "The Fear" as a primary influence, which is another satirical pop song written from the perspective of a "vapid young woman."
In her email, Lorde wrote that she feels "tons of empathy" for her character: "We're living through wild times, and it's tough to begrudge anyone the methods they employ to feel sane, questionable though they may be."
In the song, these methods include cleansing crystals that may have been mined by children, burning sage that appropriates Native spirituality, smoking weed "but only if the wind blows just right," and repeating a mantra of "love and light," which Lorde described as "a psychotic phrase."
She uses the concept of a mood ring to symbolize numbness, inability to connect, and desperation to find something that helps — even if it's problematic or disconnected from reality.
Lorde said the second verse is where her own experience "creeps in," particularly in the dichotomy between celebrity news and vitamins.
"I had a moment of realizing, 'I'm trying to eat all these dark leafy greens, but I'm also going on the Daily Mail for two hours at a time. I'm thinking of myself as a well person, but I'm literally rotting my brain,'" she told Genius.
The next line, "Let's fly somewhere eastern, they'll have what I need," is backed by a George Harrison-inspired guitar lick. The Beatles guitarist famously embraced the Transcendental Meditation movement and traveled to India for "spiritual reawakening," bringing his bandmates along in 1968.
"A lot of people will look to other cultures for spiritual salvation," Lorde told Genius. "I know people who have gone to somewhere like Bali to try and 'find themselves,' without really thinking about what effect that has on the place they're going to."
In the second pre-chorus, Lorde gives a shout-out to the "Pluto in Scorpio generation," which she does not belong to.
Most millennials have this placement in their astrological chart. Pluto moved into Sagittarius one year before Lorde's birth. Lorde's sun sign, however, is Scorpio.
This line could also be a reference to "Hard Feelings/Loveless," the sixth track on "Melodrama" ("L-O-V-E-L-E-S-S generation / All f---ing with our lover's heads generation").
"Mood Ring" ends with the melancholy line, "Take me to some kinda place, anywhere."
"I loved this image of this girl not even knowing where she wants to be taken, just that she wants to be taken somewhere," Lorde told Genius. "There's something so sad about it. I feel for her ... Someone help this girl."
"Oceanic Feeling" is an ode to New Zealand, as well as to Lorde's family and future children.
This is the third song on "Solar Power" with Lorde credited as the only lyricist.
"I really wanted it to sound like when I get up in the morning at home and go outside and think about what the day's going to hold," Lorde explained to Apple Music. "Am I going to go to the beach? Am I going to go fishing? What's going to happen? I wanted to make something that people from New Zealand would hear and would feel like, 'Oh, I'm this. That's where I'm from.'"
The opening couplet, "It's a blue day / We could jump Bulli," is a reference to Bulli Point, a popular cliff-jumping spot on the southeast shore of New Zealand's Lake Taupo.
The song also pays tribute to Lorde's father, Vic O'Connor, and younger brother, Angelo Yelich-O'Connor.
"Baby boy, you're super cool / I know you're scared, so was I / But all will be revealed in time," she sings in verse two, echoing the message from "Secrets From a Girl."
In the third verse, she references the natural sound effects used in "Solar Power" ("Can you hear the waves and the cicadas all around?")
The fourth verse is a contemplation of motherhood, made bittersweet by the album's focus on climate change ("In the future / If I have a daughter / Will she have my waist / Or my widow's peak?")
"Put into context with songs like 'Fallen Fruit' and 'Leader of a New Regime,' there's something more heartbreaking to consider," Larocca noted in our review. "Can our generation really become parents if the world is ending?"
"If we did, would their lives look like ours? Would they be able to split a tab with their lover and laugh with the stars like their mother while catching the last of the outbound planes, wearing SPF 3,000 for the ultraviolet rays?"
The song's outro contains an obvious callback to Lorde's "Pure Heroine" era: "Now the cherry-black lipstick's gathering dust in a drawer / I don't need her anymore / 'Cause I got this power."
Lorde has decisively ditched the gothic, oversized wardrobe she preferred as a teenager for bright yellows, silky textures, and midriff-baring two-pieces.
As she explained to the New York Times, "I was 15 when I wrote 'Royals.' I was shy, I was protective of my body, I didn't want people to be able to comment on my body so I would sort of dress in a certain way. Now I'm 24."
She added: "I've grown a lot, done a lot, I'm happy, I work out a ton, my body's hot. I'm feeling good."
Lorde has previously evoked a discovery of "power" in the breakup song "Writer in the Dark," which speaks to her independence and self-possession ("But in our darkest hours, I stumbled on a secret power / I'll find a way to be without you, babe").
The final lines of "Oceanic Feeling" are both hopeful and heart-wrenching, hinting at the inevitable end of Ella Yelich-O'Connor's time as Lorde.
"On the beach, I'm buildin' a pyre," she sings. "I know you'll show me how, I'll know when it's time / To take off my robes and step into the choir."
This brings the album full circle, back to the savior effigy in "The Path," once again dismantling our perception of Lorde as a higher being.
"My music is so singular," she explained to Apple Music. "I'm pretty much at the center of it. I thought that was a really powerful image to leave with: 'One day, I too will depart.'"
Read the original article on Insider