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Pop music is a genre with more than meets the eye—or in this case, ear.

Beyond just the radio fluff and auto-tuned sounds capping Top 40 charts, there exists a category of pop music that consists of meaningful lyricism and magnificent sound. One artist who surpasses her peers by great lengths is Lorde. The 22-year-old New Zealander, whose given name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, rose to fame in 2013 with her single, “Royals,” and has since produced two albums filled with both moving words and sounds alike.

Lorde has said that she draws inspiration for her music from a wide range of performers. Singers like Billie Holiday and Otis Redding have influenced her vocally, while tonally Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar appeal to her more expressive side. Songwriters including Bon Iver, Radiohead, and James Blake are just some of those whom she appreciates lyrically, and writers such as Raymond Carver and T.S. Eliot have helped her understand the power of thoughtfully selected diction. Of course, it would be remiss to forget that her work was praised by the late David Bowie and she has often looked to the rule-breaker for inspiration.

Lorde’s indie-electro sound moves beyond the stereotypical bubblegum pop songs that are so closely tied to the genre at its surface. Her songs explore the dimensions of both reality and fantasy—where we are and where our daydreams take us. The release of her two albums, Pure Heroine (2013) and Melodrama (2017), solidify her continual evolution as a pop prodigy, with maturity ringing through every line and verse.

She is at once an old soul and a distinctive voice of the millennial generation. Awkward yet self-aware, Lorde is the kind of pop star audiences crave and the industry should seek more of.

Below are just five examples of her best lyrics to date, though by the time her next album comes around, this list were certainly need to make room for expansion.

“400 Lux” 

“You pick me up and take me home again /
Head out the window again /
We're hollow like the bottles that we drain /
You drape your wrists over the steering wheel /
Pulses can drive from here /
We might be hollow, but we're brave”​


“This dream isn't feeling sweet /
We're reeling through the midnight streets /
And I've never felt more alone /
It feels so scary, getting old”

“Buzzcut Season”

“And I'll never go home again (place the call, feel it start) /
Favorite friend (and nothing's wrong when nothing's true) /
I live in a hologram with you /
Where all the things that we do for fun (and I'll breathe, and it goes) /
Play along (make-believe it's hyper real) /
But I live in a hologram with you”


“In my head, I play a supercut of us /
All the magic we gave off /
All the love we had and lost /
And in my head /
The visions never stop /
These ribbons wrap me up /
But when I reach for you /
There's just a supercut”

“Writer in the Dark”

“I still feel you, now and then /
Slow like Pseudoephedrine /
When you see me, will you say I've changed?

I ride the subway, read the signs /
I let the seasons change my mind /
I love it here, since I've stopped needing you

Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark /
Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark /
Now she's gonna play and sing and lock you in her heart /
Bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark

I am my mother's child, I'll love you till my breathing stops /
I'll love you till you call the cops on me /
But in our darkest hours, I stumbled on a secret power /
I'll find a way to be without you, babe”

Abbey is an Ohio native currently caught between the charm of the Midwest and the lure of the big city. She loves all things politics and pop culture, and is always ready to discuss the intersections of both. Her favorite season is awards season and she is a tireless advocate of the Oxford Comma. Abbey will take a cup of lemon tea over coffee any day and believes that she can convince you to do the same. As a former English major, she holds the power of words near and dear.
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