In her much-anticipated follow-up from 2017’s critically adored Melodrama, the New Zealand performer confesses what I imagine a few million others have been thinking for the past six months: “I hate the winter/ Can’t stand the cold/ I tend to cancel all the plans.” Who among us, right?
That’s all to say, Lorde knew what she was doing when she released a song like “Solar Power” only days before the coming equinox, just as legions of cooped-up WFH vampires peer out from behind their laptop screens. The snow has thawed, the days are longer, temps are rising, everyone is dying to un-social distance like it’s 2019. It is summer 2021 and we’re all Angela Bassett at a resort getting our collective groove(s) back. Enter: Lorde.
Looking like a fourth Haim sister in the “Solar Power” video, all long, middle-parted hair and West Coast-ready midriff, Ella Yelich-O’Connor frolics about an island beach and dances with a crew of Midsommar-looking extras. The track itself starts mellow and bare, letting Lorde’s crisply cool alto do the heavy lifting, before rising into a lush, harmony-driven crescendo. Its lyrics, meanwhile, are filled with invitations to share in Lorde’s idyllic paradise, classic hip-hop bars (“Can I kick it? Yeah, I can”) and the singer’s cheeky (and instantly iconic) claim that she’s “kinda like a prettier Jesus” (expect that to show up in multiple Bumble bios in three… two…).
As refreshing and of-the-moment as “Solar Power” looks and sounds, it’s also entrenched in a familiar pop move: finding a new way to express a universal feeling. This might as well be Lorde’s “Kokomo”, or her channeling Mariah Carey’s seaside video for “Honey”, or Aaliyah gyrating around the Bahamas in “Rock the Boat”. In pop music, you can never go wrong celebrating warm weather (even Lana Dey Rey’s moodier “Summertime Sadness” qualifies). But after a pandemic year, not to mention the emotional heft of an album like Melodrama, a summer breeze feels like a lovely new chapter for Lorde – and the rest of us.