On a beach somewhere in New Zealand, Lorde wakes up in a mess of sheets while clad in a red crop top that doesn’t quite match the sunny aesthetic we’ve been associating with Solar Power. But as she stands up and the camera zooms out, we see she’s not alone. There’s another Lorde, wearing plum lipstick and donning her classic hairstyle from the beginning of her career. And yet another Lorde appears, sitting with a basket of flowers by her side while wearing a sun hat and a crochet flower top.
It’s not a fever dream – it’s the thoughtful music video for ‘Secrets from a Girl (Who’s Seen It All),’ a Solar Power track that touches on growth, the naivety of your teen years, and returns to the party imagery seen on Melodrama with a more mature, responsible outlook. It’s like a message in a bottle from Solar Power Lorde to her younger self, with advice on living in the moment, maintaining a semblance of self-control even when the world brings chaos, and finding ways to love yourself. And in the music video, she opens that bottle up to her listeners while baring her soul about her deepest fears and coming to peace with her past self and what she’s gone through.
The white skirt-clad, messy-haired Lorde embodies her Pure Heroine era, with her skipping and jump-roping across the beach representing her innocence and playful outlook in spite of the loneliness and outcast mentality the album describes. The bold, red-dressed Lorde channels Melodrama, the electric post-breakup project that truly made her a pop icon and explored her confidence and independence like never before. Finally, the current Solar Power Lorde is prepared for what her day at the beach, and life in general, brings her. She won’t get any sunburns on her face with that hat, and her cozier clothes make more sense for a warm day by the shore.
While her music videos for Pure Heroine and Melodrama felt more “Hollywood” and sleek, the Solar Power music videos center around nature and Lorde’s home country of New Zealand. For example, Lorde first frolicked on this beach in the music video for ‘Solar Power,’ which she released back in June 2021. She’s more in tune with herself and her surroundings than ever, and that’s the driving idea behind ‘Secrets from a Girl.’
This song is me in communication with another version of me, trying to send along the wisdom I’ve started to gather along the way. When we were plotting the video, Joel [Kefali, co-director] brought up some old film/TV tropes about groupings of women. It inspired me to identify three distinct parts of myself, and imagine what would happen if these parts were able to meet… the Child in her purple lipstick and silver jewelry, big curls thrown over to one side, skipping and bouncing like I did as a six-year-old; the Lover, a baby woman in red with a little diamanté eye, waking up hungover and divine; and the Gardener, me at my wisest and most crunchy, dressed in my own clothes…
Solar Power as a whole offers some of Lorde’s most thoughtful and self-referential work to date, kicking off right from the opening track, ‘The Path.’ The first verse is a whirlwind describing her journey as an artist:
“Raised in the tall grass
Teen millionaire having nightmares from the camera flash
Now I’m alone on a windswept island…”
In the second verse, she references attending the prestigious Met Gala, one of the most exclusive events out there that’s nearly impossible to get an invitation to. It shows off how quickly she rose to stardom while mirroring how out of place she felt in high-profile settings, offering a nostalgic look back at that time of her life and a reflection on how much she’s grown since then.
The aptly-named ‘California’ expands on Lorde’s feelings about the spotlight and emphasizes the reasons behind her choice to escape the spotlight and spend time alone in her hometown between album cycles. The song opens with a flashback to the night she won her first GRAMMY Award before flickering to the present day, as she spends time with her friends and lover on her own terms with the privacy she needs.
“Goodbye to all the bottles, all the models
Bye to the clouds in the skies that all hold no rain
Don’t want that California love…”
The fan-favorite track ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ sees Lorde deep in thought, reflecting on her teenage years, her views of life and fame, and her growth over the years before dismissing her conclusions with a cheeky “maybe I’m just stoned at the nail salon.” The second verse even nods to her 2017 song ‘The Louvre,’ which mentions “half of [her] wardrobe” being in a lover’s room – ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ alludes to wearing “only [her] earrings” with someone. It was one of the first songs she wrote for Solar Power, and coming off the heels of the show-stopping Melodrama album, it makes sense that she was pondering how she really feels about life in the limelight.
Lorde even explained in her email newsletter that she intended the connection:
There’s a moment on Solar Power I rework the “every perfect summer” line from ‘Liability’ – which invokes the original source while giving it new meaning for a new life stage.
On ‘The Man With The Axe,’ Lorde once again returns to the peak years of her pop superstardom and revisits the time she played a show in front of the royal family of Norway while she was sick, which made her stage fright even worse than usual. As she describes her feelings of comfort while with her partner – her very own ‘Man With The Axe’ who makes her fall – it’s clear that space away from the spotlight and the freedom to explore her identity on her own terms is what’s made her as resilient and secure as she is today.
“I’ve got hundreds of gowns, I’ve got paintings in frames
And a throat that fills with panic every festival day
Dutifully fallin’ apart for the Princess of Norway…”
The bittersweet ‘Big Star’ is Lorde’s ode to her late dog, Pearl, who died in late 2019. It’s where her love for an intimate domestic life and a peaceful quiet really shine through, showing off her admiration of her dog as she appreciatively looks back on their time together. The chorus lyric “every perfect summer’s gotta say goodnight” is another one of Lorde’s intentional nods to her past work, specifically the lyric “every perfect summer’s eating me alive” from 2017’s ‘Liability.’
I really love building in those little links and connections between past eras, and I try to be really careful and intentional with how I use language in songs.
Lorde to Coup de Main
Lorde’s blast to the past concludes with the immersive ‘Oceanic Feeling,’ the last song of Solar Power which touches on her relationship with her family, the world around her, and herself. And linking back to the imagery in the ‘Secrets from a Girl’ music video, she looks back to her teenage years of wearing dark makeup during the Pure Heroine era. Something “gathering dust in a drawer” would typically have a negative connotation, but Lorde reclaims it to show that she doesn’t need to hide behind an edgy outfit or a cold attitude to be herself.
“Now the cherry-black lipstick’s gathering dust in a drawer
I don’t need her anymore
‘Cause I got this power…”
Solar Power is the kind of album that’s born when you let a young woman make her own choices, think about what she truly wants, and create the masterpiece that’s calling to her heart. Even though it’s a major departure from the trap-beat, synth-tinged sound of Pure Heroine and Melodrama, it still feels like the Lorde we all know and love. So, as she sings on ‘Solar Power,’ “are you coming, my baby?” This is truly a new chapter of Lorde’s story and we want to dive right in, headfirst, with everything she offers us this era.
What are your favorite songs on Solar Power? What do you think of the self-referential ‘Secrets from a Girl’ video? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! And for more Lorde content to add some sunshine to your day, click here.