Lorde Cd Playlist Assignment
Lorde, the unique songwriter from New Zealand who's been making waves since her arrival in America, may only have one album out for the time being but she's packed Pure Heroine full of her signature sound. From beats to goth she adds variety to pop music, winning awards and swinging her curly long locks around ala old school Alanis Morissette. While we await a follow-up album, let's take a look at some of Lorde's coolest tracks.
If you haven't heard this song at one point by now you might be living under a rock. "Royals" was the hit that brought the riveting songwriter to the world stage. The No. 1 song scored the youngster two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year.
Ambient and slow to build, when the song hits its peak Lorde's words paint a vivid image with lyrics like "You're the only friend I need/ Sharing beds like little kids/ Laugh until our ribs get tired/ That will never be enough."
8. "Yellow Flicker Beat"
One of Lorde's newest songs, she was given the task to curate the entire Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1 soundtrack. What would that project be if she didn't put her stamp all over it? "Yellow Flicker Beat" is bigger and bolder than her previous releases cementing her place in an ever changing mainstream landscape.
7. "Glory and Gore"
This track received some TV time being featured in History Channel's ad for Vikings. Staying true Lorde fashion, the trip hop beats are accompanied by gothic vocals, almost mocking our obsession with violence. "You can try and take us/ But victories contagious."
The follow-up single to "Royals," "Team" is a more pop tinged head bopper than the former. Charting at No. 6 on the Hot 100, "Team" made its way to the top of the Adult Top 40. The song at its core is about throwing her hands in the air towards the music industry and directly references Miley Cyrus' lyric "we run things, things don't run we" in "We Can't Stop." "We sure know how to run things," she sings of joining the game.
The artist is listed as Stromae but features Lorde, Q-Tip, HAIM and Pusha. Lorde gets to take the hook of the song and let's face it, she made the song what it is with a dirty gritty and again bringing that gothic sound to what is also lead by rap. It's featured on the Lorde curated Hunger Games soundtrack as well.
4. "Biting Down"
Steady and hypnotic, "Biting Down" was included on the extended, aka deluxe, edition of Pure Heroine.
3. "Tennis Court"
Also released as a single but not reaching peaks "Team" and "Royals" did, "Tennis Court" has the slick vibe like "Royals" but acts as the carefree big sister to the Grammy winning hit.
2. "Buzzcut Season"
Lorde is trying to disregard the realities of the world and is living in her own paradise, living "in a hologram" in the key lead "Buzzcut Season." "Explosions on TV/ And all the girls with heads inside a dream/ So now we live beside the pool/ Where everything is good," she sings.
1. "A World Alone"
The song closes Lorde's debut album. It serves as a close to that chapter because while the album is filled with little earworms, "A World Alone" stands out as the best track on the album. It offers a look into her life, the world around her and being able to open up to someone about it, "dancing in a world alone."
In the December issue of The Baffler, journalist Liz Pelly wrote a fascinating, widely discussed dissection of how the algorithms employed by major streaming services — particularly Spotify — are changing music.
They’re making it less interesting, less diverse, and more corporate, she argued — more like Muzak, something that seems like music, but is really just background noise made from stock sounds. She called out Spotify’s focus on mood-themed playlists, which are expressly designed as easy-listening, endless streams of music you can experience without your brain flitting away from whatever task you’re actually focusing on. And even outside those playlists, she suggests, an algorithm is mostly helping you find more of the same. It’s assisting you in becoming boring, and it’s assisting boring music in winning out over risk-taking experiments.
This was the part of the article I wanted to dismiss as premature panic. How can we accuse Spotify’s algorithms of destroying surprise when Lil Uzi Vert’s bizarre emo-rap single “XO Tour Llif3” (impossible to spell or say) was originally released on Soundcloud, and has dominated every platform, from streaming services to traditional radio to MTV to the open bedroom windows of Brooklyn, for a full 10 months now? In other words: How can there be a rule when I have just thought of… one exception?
Then, last week, I sold my car — the home of my last CD drive — and threw away a pile of scratched-up mix CDs that had been sitting in my glove compartment for years. I only saved one, a “studying for finals” mix a high school friend mailed to me at college. She was the person I killed time with before soccer practice every afternoon of what felt like my entire life. We’d drive around together, playing mixes of any songs that sounded like summer blockbusters when coming through car speakers. So the decidedly 2010 opening twinkle of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” still plops me back behind the wheel of a hand-me-down Chevy Malibu, making rolling stops in a town with three ice cream joints, one traffic light, and no grocery store. We don’t really talk anymore, but I think about this friend when I hear anything from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or a TV musical soundtrack, when my Thursday evening gym class inevitably ends (for whatever reason) with Avril Lavigne’s “What the Hell,” and anytime Nicki Minaj goes with a pink wig.
Chucking her lovingly crafted mixes into the trash with my eyes squeezed shut, I realized the vast majority of new music I grew to love in 2017 had none of this context. No one showed it to me; it popped up unbidden as a suggested addition to a playlist I’d made. Or it was served to me in a Discover tab. Or turned into an unmissable appointment by Release Radar and New Music Friday. Or it was bounced around in an algorithm that’s been monitoring my behavior for six years, which then spat out suggestions on a random Monday morning when I was sleepy, vulnerable to the non-challenging new listen, and to anything vaguely familiar.
Which is fine, up to a point. Good music is good music no matter where it comes from. It can be good even if it isn’t pushing you away from your comfort zone. It can be good even if it’s mixed in with a whole lot of bad. This isn’t a principled stance against recommendation algorithms, exactly, just a re-orienting toward something I like better, and a concession that Pelly’s piece hit a little too close to home.
It’s also a New Year’s resolution!
The surprise songs that meant the most to me in 2017 were the ones I discovered outside the algorithm, in one of a few truly serendipitous, non-predictable ways. And in 2018, I want to feel that way about everything new that I hear and like. So, this year, no algorithms, just four solid methods of music discovery:
1. Trusting Lorde
Lorde updates her personal playlist on Spotify regularly, thank goodness. It’s called “Homemade Dynamite,” which is also the name of a song she released in 2017, and the music on it exists in a space that is clearly “related to Lorde,” but not “algorithmically related to Lorde.” That is, the songs are romantic, strange, and exactly what you need when you’re alone and woozy. Spotify can tell me that people who listen to Lorde also listen to other pop songs by young women, but it can’t pick out just the right one the way Lorde herself can.
In May, she added “Say My Name,” by Tove Styrke, a Swedish singer and songwriter and incredible dresser. I distinctly remember the day, because I was walking through Union Square in a strange, sweltering heat, drinking a strawberry-lemonade Vitamin Water, texting a boy I met on the internet and kissed literally in the rain, listening to Tove squeal “go ahead and feel what you feel,” thinking, “I never don’t!” and then swooning so suddenly at this immaculate pulse-paced pop song that I almost cracked my skull open in the street.
I caught myself; I was fine! It was all part of what Lorde intended. Trust Lorde, or whichever artist you feel this way about.
2. Trusting nice, small blogs
The Grey Estates is a music blog run by a woman named Lauren Rearick, in her spare time, from her bedroom, and she almost exclusively recommends new rock music by women and non-binary musicians. Throughout the spring and summer of 2017, Rearick wrote gushing blog posts about a Nashville band called Daddy Issues, the first of which I clicked on because — I am sorry — the album artwork looked cool. She described them as “the musical equivalent of hanging with your best friends,” which appealed to me in both its simplicity and its unlikeliness. I wanted to believe her, because she seemed to care about this music so much that she was having trouble describing it.
So I bought Daddy Issues’ new album Deep Dream on Bandcamp for no other reason than this: a stranger advocated for it with plain-stated emotion and no ulterior motive, and charmed me into doing so. Luckily, it’s fantastic! It careens between angry and sweet; bitter and sappy. There’s a cover of “Boys of Summer” and this little lyrical gem:
“I know how it ends
We’re not gonna be friends
In dog years you’re dead”
Trust blogs, if they are written by eager individuals who are actually trying to help.
For example, trust me, this song will make you feel better:
3. Trusting the park
Have you ever walked past a large park, full of groups of friends and family, at the start of summer, when the barbecues are just beginning? As you know, but may have forgotten, any song you first hear as it is bouncing off of 100-year-old trees and aluminum foil plates will embed itself in your ear cartilage for the rest of your life.
That, coincidentally, is the story of “Pull Up Wit Ah Stick” and my ear cartilage. Welcome to the basic structure of my body, SahBabii!
Trust the park.
4. Trusting friends
One night in fall 2017, I was so sad about something that doesn’t matter anymore and is none of your business that I decided to get very drunk with a group of people I didn’t like. It was terrible, and it became a major challenge to extract myself from the situation. After 150 years and a $9,000 cab ride, I made it to a bar in Williamsburg to meet a friend I do like, who gave me a glass of water, did not particularly want to listen to me talk about why I was sad, and instead asked, “Have you heard of Brockhampton, and if not, have you heard of the main guy in Brockhampton, Kevin Abstract?”
I said, “No. Also, I don’t care about what you’re saying,” and put my head down on the table. But the next day, out of gratitude for the glass of water and the patience my friend demonstrated while I was being openly hostile toward him due to something that was not his fault, I listened to “Empty” by Kevin Abstract and loved it. I also listened to all of the other songs by Kevin Abstract, and then all of the songs by his new boy band, Brockhampton. And then I asked my editor to send me to Los Angeles to write 5,000 words about a young man named Kevin Abstract, whose work is compelling and thrilling and, if you ask me, urgent in a dark, cold time when not much else is fun.
It was my favorite thing I’ve ever done! Trust your friends.
It’s hard to rely on algorithms this way — even ones built by smart, well-intentioned people, and even ones that inject some level of human curation into their code. A Spotify algorithm found dvsn’s “Conversations in a Diner” for me, but a Spotify algorithm also regularly tries to foist XXXTentacion and Chris Brown onto my playlists, something that technically makes sense, and yet is something any friend of mine would know better than to do. A Spotify algorithm somehow knew I loved Hilary Duff’s Metamorphosis in 2003; a Spotify algorithm tried to introduce me to Lorde’s “Liability (Reprise)” by putting it on my Discover Weekly playlist, despite the fact that I’d already listened to it every day for six months. I do not trust it.
But I do trust this: everyone loves when you’re sitting in their home, listening to music they picked, and you pause the conversation to say “What’s this song?” They’re so eager to tell you! I’ve never asked this question and gotten anything less than the song title, a description of the album art, the lead singer’s best tweet of the last 18 months, a list of 14 semi-related artists I should check out, and whatever favor I walked into this apartment to ask for in the first place. Everyone wants to tell you about something they love, something they hope you might like, and it’s impossible to fault that impulse. Nobody is trying to sell you on something they think is boring, and unlike Spotify, no real person wants to help you “discover” something you’ve already heard a thousand times.
In 2018, we should all give each other the pleasure of hearing “What is this?” and then receiving the space to explain. We should all make playlists, with no help from algorithms. Please send me one! I trust you.