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Lorde’s “Solar Power” is Actually About Climate Change

On June 10, Lorde released her new single “Solar Power,” a signal to fans and the music industry that summer has officially begun. The song not only sounds happy — a completely new direction for Lorde — but it teases a conspiracy theory about climate change that has taken TikTok by storm. After investigating this theory, I’m convinced that climate change is exactly what Lorde is talking about in “Solar Power.” The lyrics don’t lie, so let’s dive in.

“Solar Power” begins with a slow, laid-back lull as Lorde sings, “I hate the winter/Can’t stand the cold/I tend to cancel all my plans.” But given that Lorde spent February 2019 on an expedition in Antarctica studying climate change, I wonder if these lyrics carry a deeper meaning. 

During her visit to Antarctica, Lorde interviewed researchers and climate experts in an attempt to learn more about why the region is, as she puts it, turning “to slush.” Lorde has explicitly stated that the trip was a learning experience that also helped inspire her third album. She told BBC, “Antarctica really acted as this great white palette cleanser, a sort of celestial foyer I had to move through in order to start making the next thing.” Given that the trip inspired Lorde to create a new album called Solar Power, which she is teasing with the release of the single, I wonder if the song has more to do with climate change than we think.

Apart from the timing of her trip to Antarctica and her interest in climate change, other clues point to “Solar Power” being more than just a breezy summer anthem. The visuals in the music video seem to take on a double meaning — throughout, we see Lorde jumping around on the beach, seemingly relaxed, while her frown-faced companions trudge around and, at times, seem less than thrilled to be there. Could this mean that she is onto something everyone else is not? 

The music video, featuring Lorde and her friends (who may very well be stoned) feels like Midsommar’s twin in music video form. It seems like TikTok users and editors agree, referencing the lyrics: “Lead the boys and girls onto the beaches/Come one, come all, I’ll tell you my secrets/I’m kind of like a prettier Jesus.” The last time I checked, a leader who compared themselves to Jesus that convinced you to follow them into a blissful place gives off major cult vibes. Could Lorde be leading her followers down a new path?

I’m not siding with the part of Twitter that’s convinced Lorde is part of a cult, but I do believe she’s teasing the idea that a seemingly innocent song can actually hold a deeper meaning. In the lyrics, “Forget all the tears you’ve cried/It’s over,” Lorde takes on a motherly role as someone who comforts others like a leader or a ruler would. By depicting herself as the leader of a movement, Lorde is clearly trying to get us on board with something greater than just her new song. Could she be evangelizing a message of climate change? Is she warning us that although we’re safe and happy now, bigger issues are on the way? Regardless of the theories out there, I believe Lorde wants to lead us to something. 

To me, a song that appears to be a surface-level celebration of summer wouldn’t tease a narrative like this on accident. As she appears to lead her “followers” around the beach during the music video, I wonder if Lorde’s mannerisms are pointing to a deeper message. At one point, she distracts us from a pile of trash on the sand, and the overall dull and dreary color scheme used in the music video seems out of place. Lorde’s bold choices seem intentional, suggesting that the music video and “Solar Power” lyrics are working together to produce a serious message. 

Lorde’s research on the Antarctic may have ended in 2019, but her book, Going South, which documents her five days living in the Antarctic and shadowing researchers, arrived on fans’ doorsteps just days before “Solar Power” came out. Toward the end of the song in the final chorus, Lorde sings: “Blink three times when you feel it kicking in.” And coincidentally — or not — these are the same words written on the inside cover of Lorde’s book

On June 10, Lorde released a letter to her fans, introducing us to her third album and providing a taste of what we can expect. She says in her announcement: “Her feet are bare at all times. She’s sexy, playful, feral, and free. She’s a modern girl in a deadstock bikini, in touch with her past and her future, vibrating at the highest level when summer comes around. Her skin is glowing, her lovers are many. I’m completely obsessed with her, and soon you will be too.” Here, Solar Power sounds like less of an album and more of a living, breathing thing. Maybe it is more than an album — perhaps a personification of Lorde’s internal transformation, or even a representation of what could happen if climate change continues: an eternal summer. 

The evidence for a climate change conspiracy is strong, but we’ll have to wait and see until the remaining songs are released to further assess what Lorde’s album is actually about. Keeping with the environmentally-conscious theme, the Solar Power album is scheduled to be released on August 20, and will be available in the form of an eco-conscious music box. I don’t know about you, but if Lorde’s third album lives up to the climate commentary I suspect, or if it really is a summer soundtrack and nothing more, one thing’s for sure: I’ll be listening. 

Emily is a summer 2021 Editorial Intern, writing her heart out between sips of coffee and scrolling through TikTok. Having a love for reporting what her 10-year-old self called "the news" (AKA family gossip) since she learned how to use a keyboard, Emily is a senior journalism major at Lewis University. In her free time, Emily can be found reading the hottest thriller, doing plant mom things, or taking pictures of beauty products for her skincare Instagram, @emilyaspiringblog.
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