Lorde’s Melodrama Changed the World of Music

Pop music was never the same after New Zealander artist Lorde’s sophomore album
Lorde on the Melodrama World Tour
Lorde on the Melodrama World Tour
Michael McGrew
The album artwork to Lorde’s sophomore album Melodrama

Melodrama is a quintessential Grammy-nominated album by teenage New Zealander musician Lorde, released on June 16, 2017. This critically acclaimed album shadows the night of a chaotic, grief-stricken teenager at a house party as she perseveres through the heartache of a breakup. It is characterized by its idiosyncratic production and intricate lyricism, both bringing the album into the limelight.  

After the release of her first album Pure Heroine, the life of teenage Lorde was permanently transformed by a whirlwind of fame. After a while, she could no longer balance the life of a star and a teenager; her personal relationships were also maimed as she called it quits with her long-term boyfriend. Through insurmountable pain and severe alcoholism, her sophomore album, Melodrama was born. 

Primarily produced by Jack Antonoff and Lorde, the pop record is well known for its satisfying synths and chest-hitting beats. “With this record, I learned so much about production mainly. I produced every song on the album,” Lorde said in an interview with the NewsHub. The first four tracks resemble the start of a house party as the youngster cathartically fools around to escape the heartbreak of her last relationship by immersing herself in a world of dancing and drinking. “We pretend that we just don’t care, but we care,” Lorde wrote on the second track Sober. However, the album is also balanced with a few slow-tempo piano ballads that encapture the intense emotions of solitude. “I’m a toy that people enjoy until all of the tricks don’t work anymore,” Lorde wrote on the fifth track Liability. It is a mystery how Lorde has flawlessly pieced together the strewn feelings of adolescence just from instrumentalism.

At this part of the album, the teenager has reached midnight when the high of the party has worn out and fantasy turns into reality. The second half of the album then switches from cathartic, dance-pop to mellow, lyrical songs. “Lorde captures emotions like none other,” wrote Pitchfork. Indeed, she does with her lyrics. On the ninth track Supercut, Lorde’s reminiscence upon the past memories of a fragmented relationship might be the song with the most vehement emotions on the album. From the ever-changing production to the constant flow of lyrics, Supercut is a fusion of all the tumultuous emotions of solitude after a breakup. The lyricism in Melodrama is unmatched by her peers and is more comparable with legends like Kate Bush and David Bowie whom Lorde idolizes. In songs like The Louvre and Writer in the Dark, Lorde’s distinctive lyricism is eminent and showcases her utmost ability.

Lorde on the Melodrama World Tour (Michael McGrew)

Not only is this album musically immaculate, but it is also visually immaculate. From the music videos to the album artwork, everything clings to the concept of a teenager hosting a house party. The two music videos flawlessly portray the emotions of Green Light and Perfect Places. “I have synesthesia and for me, music is super visual,” Lorde said in an interview on the Elvis Duran show. Consequently, she chose a dark-colored palette for the album and it is just perfect! The cinematography of the music videos could not fit the album any better. Similarly, the album artwork also implements the dark colors that the music videos use. It was painted by Sam McKinnis, an American abstract painter, in flamboyant colors that superbly depict the mixture of euphoria and melancholy that haunts adolescents. 

The success of the album can not only be measured by the impact it had on the culture but also its impact on the charts. Melodrama was Lorde’s first album to debut as number one on the US Billboard 200. On Metacritic, it has an average score of 91 after being reviewed by 32 critics. The album also received gold and platinum certifications in many countries due to its performance. It was also nominated for Album of the Year for the 2017 Grammys but lost to Bruno Mars. This outcome was controversial and the general public argued that Melodrama was the true winner of the year, regardless of who actually won at the Grammys. 

Melodrama by Lorde is the epitome of pop perfection. It is an album that could never be and has never been replicated. No new pop album has ever been on par with Melodrama. It is unequivocal that Lorde set an unreachable standard with this album because it has been the source of inspiration for many new artists like Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo. With Melodrama, Lorde changed the world of music. 

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