Chris Schulz says:
I don't want to be that guy. You know the type, the sweaty dude sitting behind his computer, gleefully hurling hurtful insults at pop stars in posts typed all in caps on YouTube videos. A troller, a tormentor, a hater. It's just not in me. Because I love Lorde, I really do. I love Pure Heroine, I love her twitchy twerking, I love her classy quips in interviews. What she's achieved at the age of 17 is absolutely phenomenal. I know what I was doing at that age, and it mostly involved drinking Kiwi Lager and singing along to Pearl Jam at dodgy backyard parties in Wanganui.
And the last thing I want is to enrage scores of teen movie fanatics. But when it comes to Lorde's new single, the Hunger Games' hyped Yellow Flicker Beat, I have one thought: doesn't it need a chorus? Yes, it's a big swelling feisty epic of a song with sinister undertones that will probably sound much better as the camera zooms in on Jennifer Lawrence's pouty, blood-streaked face just before the credits roll. There just seems to be something missing: an extra gear, a hook, some punch, another level. And if this is a taste of the new Lorde, isn't it just a little too similar to the old Lorde?
Remember, she's hyping her new material up as "weird and cool," telling Billboard she was "trying to get (Pure Heroine) out of my system". But those clattering drums and sweeping vocal samples, courtesy of Paul Epworth, sound suspiciously like Joel Little-lite. "I'm a princess cut from marble" are the song's defiant opening lyrics.
Maybe there's a small, tiny crack finally showing in that facade.
Lydia Jenkin says:
Lorde. Photo / AP
So here's the thing about Yellow Flicker Beat - it's not "the new Lorde single". It's a song she wrote for film soundtrack. I know it's really exciting to hear anything and everything that Miss Yelich-O'Connor sings/says/touches, but it's probably useful to note that this is not the first single from a new Lorde album, or even an indication of the direction she might choose to go in on her Pure Heroine follow-up.
Its specific purpose, is to help sell brand Hunger Games, and to make Mockingjay Part 1 seem as tense, edgy, and empowering as the first two films. And in that regard, Yellow Flicker Beat is a triumph.
It's a perfect musical depiction of Katniss Everdeen, her rapid ascent to a position of power and fame, and the knife-edge she's now balancing on, questioning her role, her duty, her values. The pulsating, squealing strings give a cold, futuristic fringe to the cinematic bass throb, and utilitarian tool-like percussion sounds - it all works to evoke the whole dystopian world of Panem in 3 minutes 37 seconds flat.
And as a standalone song, it still has plenty to offer - including a damn good chorus. You've got to admit you get shivers the moment the bass drum drops in as she croons "I'm going in ooh, this is the start of how it all ends. They used to shout my name, now they whisper it. I'm speeding up, and this, is the red, orange, yellow flicker beat sparking up my heart."
It's not an obvious hook, but a huge part of Lorde's appeal has always been her ability to wind lyrics around the rhythm and chords in such a poetic, unconventional way, diving between octaves and knocking the emphasis off the beat. That's exactly what she's doing here, and I for one hope she never wavers from this refreshing approach.