Released: June 16, 2017
Peak: 11 US, 5 UK, 11 CN, 11 AU
Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.1 UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)
Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 40:58
4.373 out of 5.00 (average of 27 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
Lorde was 16 when the blockbuster hit ‘Royals’ earned her acclaim as the voice of a generation. As her second album showed, that wasn’t quite accurate — she’s more like the voice of smart, self-conscious, neurotic people of all generations.” RS’20 After the success of her Pure Heroine debut in 2013, “the preternaturally talented New Zealand singer/songwriter” AMG “retreated from the spotlight, and travelled between New Zealand and the United States to examine the world around her. Initially inspired by her disillusionment with fame, she wrote Melodrama to capture heartbreak and solitude” WK after breaking up with James Lowe, her boyfriend of three years. She described the album as “enlightment after love lost.” WK
The album presents “Lorde as a young woman, not a sullen teenager. Tonally and thematically, it’s a considerable shift from Pure Heroine.” AMG She “knows how to execute not only songwriting and public narrative but also a melding of the two.” AMG Musically, “the sound is bigger-sounding and more club-friendly than the spare sound of her 2016 debut.” RS’20
This is “thanks in part to Lorde’s decision to collaborate with Jack Antonoff, the leader of Fun. and Bleachers who has been nearly omnipresent in 2010s pop/rock. Antonoff’s steely signatures – a reliance on retro synths, a sheen so glassy it glares – are all over the place on Melodrama but Lorde is unquestionably the auteur of the album, not just because the songs tease at autobiography but because of how it builds upon Pure Heroine.” AMG
“Lorde retains her bookish brooding, but Melodrama isn’t monochromatic.” AMG “The final product is an electropop record incorporating piano-based melodies, pulsing synthesizers, and dense electronic beats.” WK She cited Kate Bush, Sinéad O'Connor, and Laurie Anderson as inspirations for her vocal delivery. WK
Critic Carl Wilson of Slate compared the album to artists like Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. WK The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis described the album as a “cocky challenge being issued to her musical contemporaries.” WK Drowned in Sound’s Joe Goggins said Lorde operates “at the highest artistic level yet [puts] it acrss as easy-access modern mainstream pop.” WK Slant’s Sal Cinquemani said it was “cathartic, dramatic, and everything else you could want an album titled Melodrama to be.” WK It was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year.
“Green Light opens the proceedings with a genuine sense of exuberance and it's an emotion she returns to often, sometimes reveling in its joy, sometimes adding an undercurrent of melancholy.” AMG She called the song “a traditional break-up song.” WK The writing process for the song took 18 months. WK New Musical Express (NME) named it the single of the year. WK
Sadness bubbles to the surface on occasion, as it does on the stark Liability, and so does Lorde’s penchant for blunt literalism – Writer in the Dark, where our narrator sings ‘bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark,’ thereby suggesting all of her songs are some kind of autobiography.” AMG That song was, in fact, inspired by her “waking up in the middle of the night in a stranger’s bed, feeling naughy and empowered.” WK
“Instead, Lorde is embracing all the possibilities the world has to offer but then retreating to the confines of home, so she can process everything she’s experienced. This balance between discovery and reflection gives Melodrama a tension, but the addition of genuine, giddy pleasure – evident on the neon pulse of Homemade Dynamite and Supercut.” AMG
She wrote “Homemade Dynamite” with singer Tove Lo while other songs drew inspiration form other artists. “Supercut” was inspired by Paul Simon’s Graceland album. WK The Louvre was inspired by Frank Ocean’s Blond album and Hard Feelings/Loveless used a sample from Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” from 1981. WK Perfect Places was inspired by the deaths of David Bowie and Prince, who Lord said were her two most influential artists while recording Melodrama. WK
Lorde was inspired to write Sober after playing a show at Coachella. Sober II (Melodrama) was a continuation of “Sober” with the focus on “the emotions and sense of loneliness after a party is over.” WK
Notes: In Japan, a remix of “Green Light” was added. Spotify added a remix of “Homemade Dynamite.”
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First posted 12/13/2020; last updated 4/27/2022.