Aotearoa’s greatest pop export Ella Yelich O’Connor, better known as the one and only Lorde, has travelled many different musical avenues in her nearly ten-year career. Ahead of her hotly anticipated Solar Power Tour hitting Kiwi shores this Summer, it’s time to rank every single song Lorde is credited on, to celebrate the absolute best of this legendary performer.
47. Leader of a New Regime
The shortest song in Lorde’s catalogue, ‘Leader of a New Regime’ tells the harmonic story of a former popstar escaping societal collapse by moving to an island far away. Set somewhere between a fictional future and Lorde’s current reality, the song opens up an interesting dialogue about celebrity separation from real life, but its runtime is too short to meaningfully develop.
‘Meltdown’ boasts a huge list of performers, resulting in a somewhat overly ambitious hip-hop and dance track. Lorde provides smokey vocals and smart lyricism on her brief hook, but it proves her collaborative capabilities more so than her own musical prowess.
45. Million Dollar Bills
Busy and bright, ‘Million Dollar Bills’ is a fun romp dedicated to a young Lorde’s desire for riches. Although it’s a well-constructed pop song, its lyrics confusingly contradict her usual rejection of fame and wealth, and its production isn’t as inspired as her later releases.
44. Easy (Switch Screens)
The stomping bass and exaggerated brass of Son Lux’s ‘Easy (Switch Screens)’ pairs beautifully with Lorde’s weathered vocals on this collaboration. Darker production touches to the already elegant track elevate it further, but her personal influence over the song is minimal.
43. Biting Down
‘Biting Down’ is built around a simple, edgy loop, with its lyrics evocative and yet frustratingly opaque. Whilst the moody vocals and plain hook emphasise Lorde’s low notes, the track walks the fine line between sparsity and emptiness.
42. Solar Power
Sometimes, even Lorde just wants a happy summer song. ‘Solar Power’ features gorgeous new takes on the well-trodden summer song visuals. It unveils a stunningly melodic outro in place of a traditional chorus, layered with additional vocals from Phoebe Bridgers and Clairo. Unfortunately, frequent comparisons to Primal Scream, St. Vincent and George Michael take away some of the song’s punch.
41. Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Once a joyous 80s synth-pop classic, Lorde pulls a terrifyingly apocalyptic tale out from Tears for Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’. Sinister vocals and cinematic instrumentals make this reimagining an incomparable listen.
40. Helen of Troy
Lorde’s eternal distrust of authority shines through on the tongue-in-cheek ‘Helen of Troy’. Its melodies are heavily influenced by 2000s pop, and the lyrics take a sweetly feminist perspective on modern life, but its instrumentation seems to build to a dramatic ending which never quite arrives.
39. Still Sane
At first listen, ‘Still Sane’ may seem jarringly empty, even alongside the wide-open sonic direction of Pure Heroine. But its plain production is what makes it particularly timeless. It’s all about Lorde’s wordly indifference on her sixteenth birthday, beautiful in its bluntness.
38. The Man With The Axe
Conventional love songs are surprisingly rare in Lorde’s catalogue. ‘The Man With The Axe’ paints an affecting picture of her partner, visualised in t-shirts and office chairs as the one who “felled me clean as a pine”. Whilst the heartfelt lyrics at times border on uncomfortably specific, the track’s tonal experimentation and unconventional structure makes it an innovative take on music’s most covered topic.
37. Swingin’ Party
A Pure Heroine deep cut, Lorde’s cover of this track by The Replacements feels so melancholic, you’d think it was an original. Considering death as a safer alternative to life’s constant fear, ‘Swingin Party’ is a brutal listen, but certainly rewarding beneath its emotional toll.
Farewelling Hollywood in favour of her hometown beaches, Lorde references Tupac and runs from the “california love” on this mystical Solar Power cut. Instrumental flourishes from flutes and saxophones lead into an ethereal outro, subtler than her usual material, but perhaps most striking because of it.
35. No Better
Often overlooked for its status as a free iTunes single, ‘No Better’ is Lorde’s original summer song. Offering an unusually rap-like delivery, the clever, tightly rhymed lyrics and snappy rhythms make for a unique entry into her catalogue. Most importantly, amongst its scenes of lazy days with friends in the Aotearoa heat, the second verse sneaks in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it joke, where she teaches her boyfriend breath control for swimming in more creative ways.
34. Glory and Gore
Perhaps foreshadowing Lorde’s involvement with ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘Glory and Gore’ depicts a violent dystopian battle ring, metaphorically representing the social wars of high school. Each line is appropriately vicious, each note a true musical sting, and the stream-of-consciousness bridge offers a wordy but effective insight into the literature-versed teenage mind.
Kiki Rockwell – ‘Madeline’
A comedic kiss-off to personality posers, ‘Dominoes’ is an acoustic number which shines under the collaborative power of Lorde and Jack Antonoff’s friendship. Despite its extreme simplicity, the catchy melodies and witty lyrics make for a fun, if brief, track.
32. Ladder Song
Bar some lyrical changes, Lorde’s take on Bright Eyes’ classic ‘Ladder Song’ is fairly faithful to the original. Light instrumentation focuses on her dramatic performance, perhaps the first in her career where she proves herself capable of reducing the listener to tears.
31. Liability (Reprise)
Chopping up melodies from across Melodrama, this haunting interlude is the moment Lorde finally accepts she can’t substitute partying for real feeling. It’s an innovative, eloquent deep cut which furthers the album’s carefully constructed storyline in exactly the way it needs.
30. Big Star
Although its subject matter makes ‘Big Star’ a tough listen, Lorde’s comparison of her late dog Pearl to a famous celebrity is expressive and emotionally moving. Stripping away her usually busy instrumentation, the ballad emphasises her shuddering vocal performance and agonisingly earnest lyrics above all else.
29. Hold No Grudge
A Solar Power fan favourite, ‘Hold No Grudge’ pairs Lorde’s newfound slick, summery electric guitars with her earlier love for sharper digital drums. She lets go of her resentment and instead looks back on her past relationships with fondness, “acting my age, not my horoscope”. It’s a beautiful moment where an artist we’ve known since only sixteen grows into her maturer self.
28. Buzzcut Season
“I live in a hologram with you” encapsulates Pure Heroine in its desperation to escape, its fascination with the digital realm, and its shy confession to appreciating shared pain. Elements of tropical pop provide interest to the track, alongside subtle xylophone touches and Lorde’s unsettlingly sullen vocals.
27. Secrets From A Girl (Who’s Seen It All)
Surprisingly saccharine, ‘Secrets From A Girl (Who’s Seen It All’ is a bright, bittersweet collection of life lessons for Lorde’s younger self. Its shimmery production and upbeat melodies hide tough lyrical realities. Whilst the uncredited Robyn outro proves polarising, it’s a unique testament to Lorde’s constant personal growth.
26. Sober II – Melodrama
Performing in her own choir, ‘Sober II – Melodrama’ sees Lorde turn on herself in a theatrical self-takedown, confessing to running from her feelings in constant overreaction. It’s instrumentally vast, incredibly dynamic, and as the title promises, nothing if not melodramatic.
It’s the song that shifted pop music forever. It’s hard to see ‘Royals’ outside of its cultural impact — David Bowie declared the Auckland teen “the future of music” and dozens of copycats mimicked her moody, sparse sound. But ‘Royals’ is still an unavoidably incredible song. Lorde’s seemingly careless, hip-hop-inspired delivery uses idiosyncratic rhythms, subversive production and jarring lyrics to craft a musical movement that’s entirely new. It still sounds fresh, nearly a decade on.
24. White Teeth Teens
‘White Teeth Teens’ is one for the Tumblr girls. Highlighting Lorde’s unlikely affinity for dental imagery as she describes living with the popular crowd, it’s a tribute to the tough isolation of the high school experience.
23. The Love Club
Layers upon layers of vocal harmonies fill out the otherwise sparse instrumentation of ‘The Love Club’, an expression of Lorde’s inner conflict over whether popularity is worth pursuing. “Punched” for her school’s top clique and choked by her family’s love, it’s a glowing track summarising the turmoil of teenage relations.
22. Stoned at the Nail Salon
Whilst its similarities to Lana Del Rey’s recent efforts are apparent, ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ bears a humorous title that is undeniably Lorde. Showing off the airy highs of her vocal range, it’s a tired reminiscence through her twenty-five years on Earth, the type of insight only ever brought on by edible gummies and a manicure.
Lorde’s sharp vocal delivery defines ‘Sober’, a pulsing dance track which sees her fear of the night and her time at the club ending sour. Trumpets, saxophones and even a roaring tiger flesh out the production, curating a wild sonic direction beautifully evocative of its subject matter.
‘Bravado’ introduces a nervous girl to the stage on the opening track to Lorde’s debut EP The Love Club. Through evocative lyrics about seeking self-confidence, she unleashes a uniquely soulful voice, flipping the switch on for the career of the decade’s most exciting pop artist.
19. Homemade Dynamite
Spitting a staccato hook over jittery drums and bursting digital sound effects, Lorde describes the undefeatable highs of partying on ‘Homemade Dynamite’, a song as big and bombastic as its name. The thrilling remix featuring Khalid, SZA and Post Malone deserves a special shout-out, for its impressive reimagining of an already stellar song.
18. Tennis Court
Anyone who thought the razor-sharp social commentary of ‘Royals’ was a fluke would be quickly proven wrong by the sparse pop power of ‘Tennis Court’. Fearing the trap of fame, it’s a song steadying for Lorde’s inevitable celebrity status to come, perfected by its dry, witty spoken-word bridge.
17. The Path
Solar Power opener ‘The Path’ begins as a conflict between Lorde’s personal self and her celebrity lifestyle, later flourishing into a call for clarity and cohesion in an overcomplicated life. Lorde refuses to be our musical saviour, revealing through this deceptively sunny track that like all of us, she can only take it day by day.
16. Oceanic Feeling
Expansive and experimental, ‘Oceanic Feeling’ draws the hot Kiwi summer into a six-minute folk-pop extravaganza. She muses over evenings with family, tabs of acid, sea creatures and living off the land, underscored by only two bright interchanging guitar chords, eventually concluding that the angst and “cherry black lipstick” of her Pure Heroine days are happily over.
15. Mood Ring
Drenched in jangly acoustic guitars and glittery keys, ‘Mood Ring’ is Lorde’s airy, satirical take on wellness culture. She plays a pseudo-spiritual flower child seeking enlightenment in natural medicines and borrowed rituals, with delectably Y2K melodies inspired by the summery sounds of Natalie Imbruglia and The Corrs.
14. Perfect Places
After Melodrama’s exploration of the house party circuit’s highs and lows, ‘Perfect Places’ sees Lorde realise that euphoria and true happiness are two different things. Swelling instrumentals, exhausted vocals and honest, direct lyricism accept that perfection only lies in imperfection, holding Lorde up once more as the voice of a generation.
13. A World Alone
Lorde’s lovably juvenile belief that she knows best is proudly on display in ‘A World Alone’. Rejecting the party-fuelled lives of her peers and the business-focused realities of adulthood, she nonchalantly positions herself as a goddess who is still somehow uncertain of her place in the world. It’s brash and bold, a flawless testament to standing on the cusp of coming of age.
This deliciously electronic Disclosure collaboration is an alluring, addictive track where Lorde sets out to prove her transition into adulthood. ‘Magnets’ is messy and melodic, filled with cheeky lyrical double entendres and smokey imagery. Skittering percussion and throbbing synths prove Disclosure and Lorde are a musical match made in heaven.
11. Yellow Flicker Beat
‘Yellow Flicker Beat’ is a rebellious release written from the perspective of ‘The Hunger Games’ protagonist Katniss Everdeen. Its lyrics cut like glass, delivered with a bite that will send shivers down your spine. Unlike the conventional pop chorus, Lorde performs in a deep, low register, but it inspires a sense of malice reminding all listeners hell truly hath no fury like a teenage girl.
10. Green Light
Rattling and explosive, ‘Green Light’ is Lorde’s declaration of freedom after a destructive break-up. Jangly keys lead the song as she shouts out in anger, desperation and joy, diving into a complex range of feelings that impressively balances musical experimentation with commercial appeal. Simple on the surface, yet gradually revealing unimaginable depths, there’s truly nothing else quite like ‘Green Light’.
9. Hard Feelings/Loveless
It’s hard to counter the iconic status of this song’s transitional drum fill, sampled from Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’. Lorde combines two tracks of heartbreak’s decidedly different emotions. As ‘Hard Feelings’ explores anguished memories of supermarket aisles and candlelit evenings with an ex-lover, ‘Loveless’ sinks its teeth into vengeful fantasies of making them hurt like she does. It’s a juxtaposition that’s choppy, passionate, and painfully, perfectly raw.
‘Team’ sees Lorde celebrate community between her high school peers. She romanticises the most decidedly dull aspects of teen life, from acne and braces to the back alley settings of rebellious youth. “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air”, she declares, a mission statement for her eternally subversive career.
Lorde dances alone with her misery on ‘Liability’. Accompanied by scarcely more than a piano, the track felt decidedly left of field for an artist who called in the age of 808s and electronics three years prior. But the tragically self-reflective lyrics are positively untouchable. It’s the ultimate track for the girls who have always felt a little too much.
6. 400 Lux
‘400 Lux’ is so deliciously strange, it’s practically anti-pop. ‘400 Lux’ is a celebration of teenage mundanity, set inside a rundown car that symbolises escaping high school boredom and falling in love from the passenger seat. Her droll vocal delivery highlights an adolescent moodiness that makes each line all the more magical.
5. Fallen Fruit
Activism anthems are no easy feat. Celebrities addressing such serious topics as climate change typically come off as out of touch, at best. But Lorde’s delicate touch turns environmental conversation into a mysterious ballad mourning the loss to come. Dynamic, strange and crushingly beautiful, ‘Fallen Fruit’ is the centrepiece of everything Solar Power represents.
4. Writer in the Dark
A witchy Kate Bush-inspired fantasy, ‘Writer In The Dark’ sees Lorde come off her hinges, delivering a vocal performance that swings from terrifying lows to sweeping falsetto highs over strained piano keys. “I’ll love you ‘till you call the cops on me”, she wails, equal parts damsel in distress, femme fatale, and victim of a truly devastating heartbreak.
3. The Louvre
The sensation of first love positively sparkles on ‘The Louvre’. Lorde combines her wry sense of humour and her overtly sincere lyrics of desire into an obsessive, heart-swelling anthem for adolescent romance, over immersive pop production that undoubtedly influenced the synth pop fascination of recent years.
‘Ribs’ defines who Lorde is. Its lyrics are heartbreakingly nostalgic, its production is dark and experimental, and its simplicity is intensely emotional. Imagery of sleepovers, spilt drinks, and indie records on repeat places listeners right beside a teenage girl, not yet Lorde, but not simply Ella, hiding in the shadows of another house party in Kiwi suburbia. Its lengthy intro and outro parallel each other, melting into electronic instrumentals and ethereal harmonies, proving the perfection of ‘Ribs’ is undeniable.
‘Supercut’ is Lorde’s epic. Hypnotic and heartbreaking, every line encompasses a sense of impassioned love and impossible destruction, a Shakespearean tragedy for the internet age. Its striking chorus offers an opportunity to dance through the pain, whilst its washed-out, looping outro draws listeners to a trippy, teary end. But the highlight is when the track collapses into a voice memo of Lorde singing the hook as if alone in a closet, privately getting her feelings out. Vulnerable and gritty, yet polished and powerful, it leads into a scream of catharsis, providing the final touch to ‘Supercut’ that makes it Lorde’s absolute best.