Green Light by Lorde! What's the meaning?

March 03, 2017 Rebekah E. Goodall 0 Comments

Well well well, the wait is finally over. My songwriting tutor can no longer pull off the joke "Have you heard Lorde's new song?" to make the point that some of us are in this for the long haul, others only see music as a one-off project.

Today, the 3rd of March 2017, Green Light was released and I'm going rip past the glamorous packaging of this track and it's flashy music video to see what is really going on in this song. Is it really even good, or have we been given another cheap corporate mix of words and sounds to eat up and call real music?

*I'll be analysing between each section so if you want for yourself a copy of just the lyrics you can download it here.*

Verse 1
I do my makeup in somebody else’s car
The taxi driver's car?
We order different drinks at the same bars
Meaning; We're the same planet but believe in different lifestyles?
I know about what you did and I wanna scream the truth
Easy to guess 'You' is a guy that's cheated, but is it more than that?
She thinks you love the beach, you’re such a damn liar
EQ has a long delay here where there wasn't before

● She starts of with flowing phrases that push on the timing. The lyrics are a little awkward and more conversational than melodic. Long pauses between each line, perhaps to symbolise time passing- to allow the story she is telling to gather suspense.

● The Chord changes too, anticipate the phrases and this can make the listener a little uncomfortable. This works with the meaning of the song because right away we can tell this is not a happy love song, there is a negative aspect of the relationship being talked about.
● Chant type melody: there are basically only 1-2 notes in the vocal part of this section. So the song is starting off very simple as an establishment to what may happen next. And because of that, it's hard to really know what key it's in just from the melody line, leaving more to be revealed yet.

● Very open, echoy EQ on the vocals, but that is what works well with the classic warm, edgy timbre of Lorde's voice.

Well those great whites they have big teeth
Is that to say; the truth stings sometimes?
Hope they bite you
She's mad, wants revenge even
Thought you said that you would always be in love
'Oh to feel loves keen sting,' actually what's that from?
But you’re not in love no more
Is this person simply not in love at all, or have they actually found someone else?
Did it frighten you how we kissed when we danced on the light up floor
Hooking up in the club is pretty normal so to be frightening it just might be the scorned Lorde is still acting as if everything is normal and is yet to strike on her victor, hiding her plan to make him nervous. But reading really far into it so it's unlikely - help me out here, what do you think?
On the light up floor

● The meaning of this song so far tends to be rather ambiguous. The people involved seem to be;
Lorde - She doesn't like what someone did, wants them to hurt, she's being unnerving by kissing someone
A driver - not a recurring cast member
Someone she kissed - The one that the song addresses, most probably 'guy who has cheated'.
Another girl - Remember she's also been lied to and Lorde's character knows this girl is not to blame for her own relationship drama

● The airy sounding harmonies cause tention and provide contrast when in the same section later, when it plays after verse 2, the harmonies sound sweet.

● The melody goes to being a bit disjunct with more leaps up and down the scale.

● In comes the bass with long pulling notes. It's very warm with the real recording of that wobbling string, really supports the rest of the instrumentation well.

But I hear sounds in my mind
Brand new sounds in my mind
But honey I’ll be seeing you wh’ever I go 

But honey I’ll be seeing you down every road

● It's interesting sticking what would otherwise be the bridge between the pre-chorus, and the chorus sections.

● This is where Green Light is the perfect example of Prosody. This is when what is described in the lyrics is also happening in the music, supporting the idea. As the lyrics state, "brand new sounds", the music is completely different in the departure than the verse preceding it. The instrumentation has gone from long piano pads with a pulsing synthesizer over top, to a much more complicated austinato (that with the delay effect used sounds like there's a few seim-quavers in there as the chord phrases rise and fall) and a strong kick drum beat is introduced.

● It even sounds like the whole key has changed- because it very well has gone from G major with 3 sharps, to D major with 2 sharps.

● Because of the octave leaps Lorde uses quick changes from chest voice to mixed belt in these two lines; "But Honey I'll" in a low register with more natural reverb, "be seeing you..." suddenly raised and a much cleaner sound. Something we haven't heard much of in the last few years, I don't think, and it certainly adds interest.

● Melody turns circular, revolving around 3 or 4 certain notes.

(I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it)
Cause Honey I’ll come get my things but I can’t let you go
(I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it)
I’ll always try; could get my things and just let go
(I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it)

● Lorde's character obviously doesn't really want to leave the relationship with the two-timer, but knows she should cut him out of her life. The title line though, "I'm waiting for that green light, I want it," does that mean she wants a sign from him that he will change for her, make it work thought he's been a liar and done things to make her want to scream, Ooooor does it mean she's waiting for him to admit that he really is a sleez and she should just do the healthy thing and get out?
This is where the songwriters have left it to your interpretation so the song can apply to more people. It's a smart thing we like to do, but don't get mad, you like that we do this; you want to fit every song into your own life and say, "Oh Lorde, you know me. She knows my heart and soul. And music is my therapy."

Verse 2Sometimes I wake up in a different bedroom
Is this to say; "After all, we are really in an open relationship and we both sleep around?"
I whisper things the city sings them back to you
"My secrets get out and the whole world talk about them, so whatever I do you're going to find out anyway."

● As you can see, this song's lyrics are really wide open unless you are the writer and you know exactly what it's about.

● Clever manipulating words to fit the phrase, be-d-room is normally only two syllables but we don't have to be slaves to the english language. Good use of poetic licence.

● The lyrics still fit a bit strangely and it's hard to actually realise what the last sentence was, or perhaps I'm just tired. It's edgy, and I wanna say slightly juxtapositional, against the strong beat.

● The harmonies continue to build the dynamics of the track with embellishments of ahhs in there. The movement is changing from moody, dark and airy to lighter and almost whimsical.

Well those rumours they have big teeth
"Whether it's true or not what is said about either of us, it can hurt...What I thought may not be true because you haven't confirmed it with your 'green light,'
Hope they bite you
Saying this line again may just prove that I, Beka, have gone off on a tangent and Lorde still hates the guy... or it could just be that the story ends incompletely for the sake of songwriting, repeating the lyrics from before because we don't all want to analyse songs to much and we should just get dancing. Lorde said herself, it is about a relationship ending however she came out of it and now feels great.
Thought you said that you would always be in love...

● But we're still not sure what that green light is. We do, however, know that she wants it because the song says so another eleven times.

● I have to wonder if we are being a bit brainwashed with this song; there's two reasons that stand out for me:
The clapping in the chorus - I know it's a great feature that adds to the beat, but are we being told already that this is our new anthem song without making a conscious choice?
Also the video features Lorde listening to music on her iPod while getting totally sucked into what she's listening to, is that again, a demonstration of what we are supposed to do with the song? You know buy it and listen to it when we walk down the street. I know that's what I do anyway with the music I do buy, but is this an intentional sales pitch the director has given to us without our knowing?

● The instrumentation develops well and the idea of just making a good sound is reflected in that. The texture is clear and bold, without going overboard; Piano, Vocals, Synth, Bass, Backing Choir, Beat Machine and hand percussion. It is a clear choice of quality over quantity.

● The meaning of the lyrics is unclear, it's clusters of imagery that don't seem to make a whole lot of sense. Ultimately the song could be in dedication to music, the way the video expresses joy and freedom while listening to it. Why else is there a piano in the freaking bathroom?

● And again with the modulation from verse to chorus, the prosody in this song is excellent.

So that is some of what is happening in this song. And like the girl herself said, "It's a complex song, there's a lot going on." I can say after listening to is twenty times it's catchy. There's a great number of reasons to like it.

Tell me what do you think the lyrics mean? I'd love to know. And is there anything in there I missed? What do you think of the song, do you think it's worth the wait, and the sudden hype?


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