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Lyrical Analysis: “Green Lights”- Lorde


Lorde

Ladies and gentlemen the wait is over!  After a nearly four year hiatus since her debut album Heroine, Lorde has reappeared on the music scene with her single “Green Lights” from the upcoming album Melodrama.  Typically I don’t geek over new music, especially that of the pop variety; however, I have made renewed commitment to trying out new music and giving different genres a shot.  In fact, if you haven’t checked out Matt Mahone’s post The Jazz Conundrum I highly recommend it, as well as the new Thundercat album.  Having said all that I freely admit that I have been somewhat anxiously awaiting Lorde’s new music.  Thanks to NBA 2K15 I became a fan of her song “Team” and I eventually discovered “Royals” which I also liked a lot.  In a world dominated by Taylor Swift at the time the musical stylings of Lorde was a welcome respite.  When “Green Light” was released last week I naturally gave it a listen, or three, and came to the conclusion that it was ok.  It didn’t strike the same chord with me as the other two songs, which is fine since I’m certain her target demographic isn’t 30 year old males.  As I listened to the song the story told by the lyrics seemed hauntingly familiar so I decided to perform a lyrical analysis to determine the source of the familiarity.  What I discovered may blow your mind.

Verse 1:

I do my makeup in somebody else’s car
We order different drinks at the same bars

I know about what you did and I wanna scream the truth
She thinks you love the beach, you’re such a damn liar

The song’s opening verse clearly refers to the singer being burned with lies from a former lover.  So far this is not unlike most other pop songs, but I continued to dig deeper.

Refrain:

Those great whites, they have big teeth
Hope they bite you
Thought you said that you would always be in love
But you’re not in love no more
Did it frighten you
How we kissed when we danced on the light up floor?
On the light up floor

The beginning of the refrain made me wonder if perhaps she was referring to the book version of Jaws, wherein Chief Brody’s wife, Ellen, has an affair with the scientist Matt Hooper.  Further analysis disproved this theory, but I still assume Lorde is a fan of Jaws because she seems to be a woman of decent taste.  The key to unlocking this story, however, was the repeated reference to the “light up floor”.

jaws

Pre-Chorus:

But I hear sounds in my mind
Brand new sounds in my mind

But honey I’ll be seein’ you ‘ever I go
But honey I’ll be seein’ you down every road
I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it

We see here a persistent longing for the lover who has spurned the singer with their lies and deceit.  It appears the longing comes from a sad internal desire to hear and see the former love.  What if I told you these senses were not triggered by an internal longing, but an external catalyst?

Chorus:

‘Cause honey I’ll come get my things, but I can’t let go
I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it
Oh, I wish I could get my things and just let go
I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it

The chorus is all about waiting for the “green light”, which clearly means to go ahead or to continue.  This lyric is actually pretty cut and dry methinks.

Refrain:

All those rumors, they have big teeth
Hope they bite you
Thought you said that you would always be in love
But you’re not in love no more

Did it frighten you
How we kissed when we danced on the light up floor?
On the light up floor

I skipped verse two because it only had two lines which didn’t fit into my conspiracy theory so I chose not to include it in this analysis.  The second refrain is similar to the first except that “great whites” is changed to “rumors”.  Perhaps the “great whites” are in fact white lies instead of sharks, and the rumors are related to those lies.  This is when the light bulb struck and was enhanced by the second reference to the light up floor.

The remaining choruses and pre-choruses are repeats of the above.  Piecing together my observational evidence I have concluded that this is the story of a woman who had relationship with a man.  Despite the nefarious doings of the man, the woman continued to long for him.  The “brand new sounds” and “I’ll be seein’ you down every road” are because she has given birth to his child.  The “rumors” are that the child is his and the “lies” are his denials of being the fatherhood.  All this brings us to the most electrifying piece of evidence…the light up floor.  Clearly the subject of this song is none other than the legendary Billie Jean herself!

It all fits.  “She’s just a girl, who thinks that I am the one” references the rumors and “the kid is not my son” is the lie.  The lyric “His [the baby’s] eyes were like mine” from “Billie Jean” verifies that the singer of “Green Light” would in fact “see you down every road” of the child’s life.  Then of course there’s the oft-repeated reference to the light-up floor:

The evidence is overwhelming.  It’s been 35 years since the original release of Billie Jean, but we finally have the companion piece which explains the other side of the story.  Thank you Lorde for bringing us the conclusion to this tale of love, betrayal, and life.

Article written by Josh Juckett