3. Lorde - 'Melodrama'
Release date: June 16
When Lorde released "Royals," she faced some serious backlash and issued a response, which consisted mostly of explaining that she wrote that song when she was 15 years old, and was just 17 when she released it. She was still learning, and her perspective as a teenager in the small, isolated country of New Zealand shaped her outlook of the world.
It's been almost four years since then. Lorde is 20 years old now, and she's been spending a lot of time in New York City. Instead of the naive teenager we heard on Pure Heroine, she re-introduced herself as a self-aware young adult on Melodrama. Instead of commenting on things from the outside, she's in it. "Every night, I live and die / Meet somebody, take them home / Let's kiss and then take off our clothes / It's just another graceless night," she sings on "Perfect Places." She's speaking from experience in a way that gives these songs more weight than anything on her debut.
She's growing up musically, too. Instead of sticking with the sparse, rap-inspired beats that Joel Little supplied on Pure Heroine, she tapped Jack Antonoff—who's put in work with Taylor Swift, fun., and Bleachers—for an executive producer role. The result is a bigger, more ambitious pop approach, but there are still signature Lorde moments (the dramatic, drumless "Writer in the Dark" or the two-for-one "Hard Feelings/Loveless") that are more left-field than your typical, radio-friendly pop.
The thing that hasn't changed is Lorde's songwriting. She's a brilliant pop writer, and songs like "Perfect Places," "Green Light," "Supercut," and "Homemade Dynamite" are driven by undeniable melodies and hooks. That talent is what got Lorde this far in her career, and it's beautiful to witness everything else falling into place as things tend to do in any good coming-of-age story.—Jacob Moore