If Billboard’s Hot 100 is any indication, you all have been listening to Lorde’s “Royals” a lot lately. But did you know, friends, that there’s a full 10 tracks on her debut album Pure Heroine that are just as catchy— if not more so — than Ella Yelich-O’Connor’s anti-consumerism jam?
Obviously, the song has struck a chord in even the most jaded corners of our calcified hearts, propelling the unlikely — and somewhat reluctant — pop star into a firmament of fame often occupied by the likes of Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus.
And — what’s more — Lorde isn’t some one-hit wonder; her debut album is a veritable boxing ring of hits, replete with jams that will knock you out with one listen.
Below, MTV News breaks down four tracks you need to listen to now:
1). Tennis Court
The suburbs of our youth are full of hangout spots — bonfires in the woods, strip malls, corner stores. They’re places kids too young to drink and too old to stay at home go to talk sh–, sneak cigarettes and feel, at least for a moment or two, as if they have some kind of autonomy. For Lorde, that place is the tennis court, a location she immortalizes in a song that takes all the angst, boredom and frustration of youth and turns it into a shout-out, breakout anthem: “Let’s go down to the tennis court and talk it out like yeah!”
“I’ve always been really fascinated by the visual concept of the tennis court,” Lorde told MTV News in a past interview. “Then also there’s a tennis court in my hometown where me and my friends would hang out when we were kids, right up until we were teenagers, and that was just a symbol that felt kind of nostalgic to me.”
Listen When: You’re fed up with your mom/boss/significant other and you need to talk it out like yeah [robot voice].
When you say “Lorde,” Charles Bukowski doesn’t likely spring to mind. However, in her achingly sad jam “Ribs,” the 16-year-old singer hits on the same emotions that the debauched poet/novelist encapsulates in the poem “No Help For That”: “there is a place in the heart that will never be filled and we will wait and wait in that space.”
The chorus, “And I’ve never felt more alone/ It feels so scary getting old” could easily come off as inane — given that Lorde is only 16 — but the rest of the song, which aptly details what it’s like to grow up, to realize that you are an individual and that we are all, somehow, alone and looking for someone to make us feel differently, is spot on.
In interviews with MTV News, Lorde had admitted that she doesn’t wholly stand by some of her previous songs (specifically “Million Dollar Bills”) but that “Ribs” is a song that she’s still excited about. Perhaps because that even in its utter childishness, it’s the most mature track on the album.
Listen When: Alone. All alone.
3). White Teeth Teens
If you were down with “Love Club,” off Lorde’s debut EP, you’ll love “White Teeth Teens,” an utterly weird and beautiful denouncement of popularity and oppressively image-based cliques. Studded with lush choral passages reminiscent of the sweet-voiced singers in ’50s jingles and full of cutting lines like “Their molars blinking like the lights, in the underpass where we all sit/ And do nothing/ And love it” this song is like nothing you’ve heard on the radio this year. And maybe that’s the point.
In light of Lorde’s recent and massive popularity — and her propensity for speaking bluntly about her pop teenage contemporaries — the song seems to go beyond critiquing high school cliques; it could just as easily be about how Lorde is not “a white teeth teen” (perhaps an allusion to the ubiquity of shining dental work in Hollywood) in the music scene, and how that kind of music is “out.”
Or, you know, it could be about poor dental health. She says she’s a “disgusting person in general” after all.
Listen When: You’re feeling beat down by the popular kids — grown-up or no.
“Royals” may be number one right now, but pretty soon we predict that “Team” will nab that spot. Just one listen is all it takes to convince, so just press “play” already.
Listen When: -ever