Lorde’s “Green Light” and the pain of hoping

Posted on March 8, 2017


Oh I wish I could get my things and just let go
I’m waiting for it, that green light, I want it

Okay, I have to admit two things.

First, my writing will most likely be sloppy af. I haven’t been writing in this blog for a long time and my “skills” have probably waned thanks to long periods of inaction and relentless, energy-draining practice tests. Don’t ask me what for. I don’t want to fall flat on my face if the outcome wasn’t what I wanted.

Second, I actually like Lorde’s new song. Usually, I am this pretentious, edgy hipster type who seems to have a default disdain for anything liked by the “less refined” (ugh so elitist).  At first, I didn’t want to waste my time listening to it because I have more pressing matters to analyze (like is OJ Simpson guilty or what). I just decided to listen to it because hey, I’ve always wanted to have a broader sense of appreciation for all types of music. That, and I’ve resorted to bothering with popular clickbait stuff anyway so what the heck.

And Holy Christ On A Toaster did that song strike something in me. Okay I know that as a total music junkie a lot of songs stick with me all the time, but “Green Light” did it in a different way. At first I thought it stuck with me because of the overall aesthetic quality of the song, but after a couple more listens I guess it’s all about the connotative meaning of the song – the reason why I love music in the first place.

This isn’t just an empowering song about the virtue of letting go – it’s a song about the pain that comes with letting go.

The song starts out as a typical radio-friendly pop hit. That was the most meh part of the song in my opinion. In the video, a somber Lorde stares intently at the camera, expressing her frustrations over a failed relationship in an almost intimidating way. In my personal analysis, this “boring” part of the song can be equated to the down parts of my life. The stagnancy. The frustration. The hate.

As an engaging piano bit leads us up to the chorus,  we realize that this isn’t a song about bitterness. In the video, Lorde looks out of the window of an Uber car. At this point, the music and video makes us feel the building up of jubilation – the breaking of her chains. The fact that it’s an Uber, not a limousine or anything flashy, makes us believe that she a Typical Young Woman. She is One Of Us.

It was the chorus made me realize that I might like this song after all. The music falls perfectly together in harmony. The glorious part with the piano interlaced with a couple of other electro-sounds (I do not know how to term these things I’m sorry, I’m not Anthony Fantano) pretty much sealed the deal for me. It has some elements of Arcade Fire, Icona Pop, and Carly Rae Jepsen. I can pretty much imagine myself running in an open field or a cobbled European street, running away from everything. Running away from my mistakes and pain.

For me, Green Light’s chorus is the equivalent of getting back up after getting punched into a bloody pulp after a fight. Lorde says, “I hear sounds in my mind, brand new sounds in my mind”. She is realizing things. It is becoming clearer to her what she should do. Her resolve to be better has stiffened. She’s getting back up and fighting.

I have to admit, I have ranted numerous times about trying to be this Strong Independent Woman and I get that it is getting a liiiiiittle bit cliche. While Green Light does express these sentiments, it also expresses the vulnerability one has in trying to internalize such a persona. Let’s face it – IT JUST ISN’T EASY. LETTING GO ISN’T EASY. BEING STRONG ISN’T EASY.

In the song, Lorde says she will “be seeing you wherever [she] go[es]/down every road”. She also says “I’ll come get my things, but I can’t let go”. This suggests that she knows she is on the way towards being better or moving forward, but she also knows that SHE ISN’T QUITE THERE YET. She’s waiting for the green light and she wants it. She isn’t fully healed, but she knows her luck will change eventually and things will be better than she ever imagined.

Green Light is a song about hope. It is a song about the pain of realistic dreamers. It’s about knowing that you are still in the gutter, ready to go and make things happen, and yet powerless in the face of fate. Once the green light is signaled, you know you have the capacity to make things better. You know you are still holding out for the hope that things will be better.

As of now, my green light has not been signaled yet. I don’t even know if it will ever be signaled. To be honest, the future is so blurry that I’m starting to lose hope in it. Thanks to Lorde, I now have a tiny inkling of hope that maybe, just maybe, that light will turn green. And once it does, I will speed down that freeway towards the unknown.