But it’s also fascinating to me that Lorde has continued to find ways to maneuver around the fact that, you know, she’s not really a singer. I think there are interesting elements to it. I think she actually does her best work in the kind of quiet, gravelly sentences. I gotta see how it fits, because that has changed countless first singles for me, where the first single comes out and I’m like, “Ah, I don’t know …” And then I see what surrounds it on the record, and then it makes more sense. More From This Series
Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘good 4 u’ Continues a Distinct Emo Tradition
Why Labrinth’s ‘Sexy MF’ Is a Modern Classic*
Remembering Uncomfortable Teen Moments With Lucy Dacus
Tags: It seems like there’s a line in the sand between people who listened to “Solar Power” and hear this as an extension of Lorde’s artistry and others who hear it as a step backwards.And that’s just a thing that happens. On top of that, listeners questioned the song’s provenance — had Lorde cribbed too closely from ’90s hitmakers like Primal Scream and George Michael? People enjoy picking teams and picking sides. Hanif knows Lorde’s catalogue like the back of his hand, and he’s got feelings about this latest release. Few things are more puzzling to me in music than when songs or albums or artists that are just fine elicit an intensely polarizing response because I think most songs are fine. To hear “Solar Power” clearly and unpack its polarizing sounds, Switched on Pop hosts Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding needed to speak to someone with an unerring ear and a razor-sharp mind: the author, poet, and host of Object of Sound, Hanif Abdurraqib. But also the thing about first singles, at least for me, is I always need to know how it looks on the album. And for me, I think what didn’t work about her first album [Pure Heroine, released in 2013] was that she just hadn’t figured that out. I think she is realigning the way we should consider singers against those who are effectively just speaking. She’s such a melodic speaker and a melodic deliverer of language that even though the vocal flourishes aren’t always there, when they are there, they feel kind of hyperproduced. This interview has been edited and condensed. Nate Sloan: What was your first reaction when you heard this track?Hanif Abdurraqib: I didn’t understand why it was so polarizing, I think. Lorde’s greatest skill is her self-awareness, which means that the more instruments that she can manipulate or find her pockets in, the better her songs are. “Solar Power” remains in the extended Lorde musical universe, but the reason why the song doesn’t move me to rapturous excitement is because it’s perhaps a slight downgrade on what she showed herself to be capable of. In Melodrama, she extremely figured it out. How do you mean?She is definitely not like a singer singer, but she is a very, very skilled deliverer of language. But I thought it was just … fine. “Lorde’s greatest skill is her self-awareness.”—Hanif Abdurraqib
Lorde’s big comeback single “Solar Power” set the internet ablaze when it dropped from out of nowhere in June. What do you think “Solar Power” says about her forthcoming album of the same name? Some fans found the song to be a buoyant departure from Lorde’s last album release, 2017’s Melodrama, while others felt the track half-baked. But he also offers a word of caution: Wait for the album before reserving judgment!