Four years passed between when Lorde released Pure Heroine and when she released Melodrama and in all of that time, her music has been on every playlist I’ve made and in every car I’ve driven. There has always been something refreshing about Lorde that made me want to listen to her music on repeat and I think that now, after listening to Melodrama about 200 times, I have figured out what so draws me to her music.
Lorde takes her own emotions and thoughts seriously in a world that tells people, especially young women, to question the validity of their own experiences. Through her teen years and into her young adulthood, during times where people are told that they are too young to be fully human, she never underestimates the validity and importance of her own perspective. She takes her joy seriously. She takes her sorrow seriously. She considers her observations and thoughts to be important and noteworthy. And in doing so, she gives her audience permission to do the same.
I have found comfort in this, especially in these past few months since she released Melodrama. It’s an album that feels like a full reckoning with heartbreak, from the moment where heartbreak begins to feel inevitable to the moment where the heartbreak really just feels like nostalgia. I have been following her embarrassingly closely and she has been helping me learn how to be kind to myself without even knowing it.
Lorde has said multiple times in the past years that she won’t put out music on anyone else’s schedule and that her music is her expression, so basically her albums will come when they come, whether her fans want a new album or not. In fact, just recently she tweeted “it might be 4 years it might be 10 not gonna make albums that only exist on one plane they have to be supercellular.” The headlines that followed were basically “Lorde won’t release another album for 10 years” which is, of course, not what she was saying at all.
In her refusal to make music on anyone else’s timeline, Lorde creates the space to be lead by her own expectations of herself rather than the expectations that others have imposed on her. In claiming the time she needs to produce what she wants to produce, she is ultimately refusing to be pushed around my someone else’s idea of who she should be and respecting herself. It is a kindness that she is granting herself. It’s the kind of kindness that I want to be able to grant myself in my own creative process, my job, and my relationships.
In August of 2016, Lorde was set to perform “Homemade Dynamite” at the MTV VMAs, but unfortunately she fell ill and could not sing. She still performed. She had a flu and she was in pain but she still stood up on stage and danced. It was lightly choreographed and mostly interpretive and as many said, not a performance that showed much extraordinary skill. She was criticized heavily for the performance and in an interview shortly after, she said “I just danced. I just danced! And I danced with full fucking joy. Some people were like, ‘We get it, we love it.’ And some people were like, ‘This is offensive that I have to watch this.’”
She had agreed to perform at the VMAs and in the end, she was physically unable to sing, so she did the very best she could and she had a wonderful time doing it. Still, people were angry and critical of it.
Lorde knew that she did her best. She gave the performance all that she could and she ended up feeling really good about her performance. It gave her joy to dance. It gave her joy to be on the stage at the VMAs, dancing to an absolute banger of a song that she painstakingly wrote for an album that she poured her soul into. And that joy is true whether it’s followed by supporters or critics. That joy is still real. It’s still important. It’s still joy and that is inherently valuable and wonderful. In that, I am reminded that my own moments of joy are true, important, and inherently valuable. As someone who struggles with feeling like I must always be productive or I am failing, that reminder is truly a gift.
I am someone with an almost knee-jerk compulsion to take care of other people. I’ve always been the “mom” of my friends, easily entrusted to take care of the babies in my family and always ready to spring into action when anyone else expresses any kind of need or want that I can fulfill. In many ways, I get some real happiness from taking care of other people. I don’t get nearly as much happiness from taking care of myself, which is not a pattern that I wish to carry with me into the future.
In “Hard Feelings/Loveless”, Lorde sings “I light all the candles/Got flowers for all my rooms/I care for myself the way I used to care about you.” I really see myself in this, I see how I want to be. I want to be generous to others but I also want to become generous to myself. I want to turn my compulsion to be nurturing inward, to be as kind to myself as I always strive to be toward others.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll go out and buy flowers for all of my rooms. Maybe, with Lorde as my example, I can learn to take my experiences seriously, to find value in my joy, and to be kind and nurturing to myself.