On March 2nd, Lorde released her new single “Green Light,” and everyone’s been talking about it. The song comes from the New Zealand singer’s highly anticipated sophomore album Melodrama, which will be released later this summer.
“Green Light” is Lorde’s first release since Pure Heroine, the artist’s first album produced when she was just 16 years old. In her 2013 debut, Lorde was a musical revelation. Wise beyond her years, her sound— a dreamy blend of indie, pop, rock, and electronica music—was unlike anything that had been heard before. Pure Heroine effortlessly captured just exactly what it means to be a teenager, covering everything from the romantic yearning to the social anxiety. Lorde sang about youth from such a hauntingly insightful perspective, that is was easy to forget she was just a kid herself.
Now at the age of 20, Lorde has another hit on her hands. “Green Light” possesses many of the same brutally honest and sharp observations as her 2013 chart topper, “Royals.” But don’t mistake Lorde for the same girl she used to be. Even from the first few seconds of the song, it’s obvious that this time Lorde isn’t singing about privileged teenagers and fantasy lifestyles. Instead, Lorde is experiencing the aftershocks of her first broken heart.
Although it hasn’t been confirmed, the song is rumored to be about Lorde’s breakup with her boyfriend of three years, photographer James Lowe. The two met in New Zealand when he was 24 and she was 16. No matter who this mysterious heartbreaker actually is, the song is more importantly about Lorde’s coming to terms with her emotions without feeling any remorse.
In its entirety, “Green Light” is a raw portrayal of what it’s like to move on after your first heartbreak. In the song’s piano ballad opening, she obsesses over her misleading ex boyfriend and his new love interest. The lyrics are biting, and Lorde holds nothing back. She’s obviously been hurt, and we feel the pain right along with her. Sure, she might sound a little unhinged, but that’s part of what makes the song so brilliant.
Unlike many breakup songs, Lorde doesn’t pretend that she’s ok. She’s stuck in a rut and she knows it.
“I realized this is that drunk girl at the party dancing around crying about her ex-boyfriend who everyone thinks is a mess,” Lorde said in an interview with Beats 1. “That’s her tonight and tomorrow she starts to rebuild.”
After its emotional opening, the song revs up into a unique power ballad that somehow turns her breakup into something we can dance to. “Green Light’s” chaotic mix of sounds work together perfectly to create a song that literally mirrors the highs and lows of a breakup. The song reassures us that even though Lorde doesn’t have it together right now, in the end she will.
In the song’s chorus, she pines for “that green light,” presumably a street signal finally granting her the ability to move on with her life and drive into the future.
“Green Light” is a testament to why artists produce music in the first place. To Lorde, producing music for the masses has become a vital part of her emotional processing. She is truly an artist who lets her listeners share some of her best moments, and in the case of “Green Light,” some of her worst.
And if this song is any indication of how she’s healing, we have a feeling she’s going to be just fine.