In the years since Lorde arrived on the scene with the subtle “Royals,” imitators showed up on the Billboard charts en masse. It’s hardly a surprise. That song sounded like nothing else on the radio at the time. But many who tried to capture the magic of Lorde’s first album failed to do so. They couldn’t match its pulse without flatlining. So the question turned to, how would Lorde react to herself? By once again doing something unexpected.
“Green Light,” her first solo single in three years, is upbeat and made for the dance floor. Its gift comes in all the little details and the number of melodies she packs into four minutes. The mournful intro, with heavy piano chords, fit the lyrics of her first heartbreak. But rather than wallowing in her melancholy, Lorde is ready to move on. The keys perk up, working out a melody Coldplay wishes it could write. A skittering, electronic beat blossoms and the song bursts into a determined, glorious chorus. This is the sound of Lorde dancing her way out of her pain. It’s instantly relatable and optimistic, at a time where we need it. If this doesn’t become a massive hit, it would defy all laws of nature.
“But I hear sounds in my mind/Brand new sounds in my mind,” Lorde sings. Like all the best artists, she’s a trendsetter. We can’t help but follow her down the road, through the green light.