Friday, August 9th, 2013

Lorde – Tennis Court

She’s broken America, how do we rate her new smash? (Note: 50 other tennis puns were considered and these were the least awful. Sorry.)

Patrick St. Michel: Fault! Boring song.

Will Adams: More aspirational brattiness in the same vein as “Royals,” with the same snappy drums joining in. This time, the production is busier, but it swallows her whole. It’s fair to say that a major part of her meteoric rise has been the “OMG SHE’S ONLY 16” factor. The command she displayed on “Royals” would suggest that she can transcend that hype, but the lack of it on “Tennis Court” takes her a few steps back.

Brad Shoup: “You could watch from your window,” she chuckles, as if that’s something she’s only seen in the movies, or a Taylor Swift video. It’s 2D gloom: no melodic flourishes, not even a dip towards the earth (except for the pitchshifted, non-inline “YEAH”).

Katherine St Asaph: The problem with Lorde is she makes sonically compelling music that’s nevertheless gotten the sort of rapid, iffy premature buzz (headline: Lorde: Meet the 16-Year-Old Pop Prodigy Who’s Sick of Rappers…“) that’s probably a bad thing for music, diagnosis Jessie Del J. (OK, that’s problem #1. Problem #2 is she is a child and you feel bad criticizing her.) But Lana Del Rey has a surprising amount of actual, non-astroturfed teenage fans, and from the sound of “Tennis Court” Lorde’s one of them (check the cadences on “thrill of it, killing it” and such, and compare.) The production hangs listless like air off a blacktop, but the lyrics have something to rankle everyone: obvious images (thank Toddlers and Tiaras, I guess, that “beauty queen in tears” lasted unused so long), obvious bait (“don’t you think that it’s boring” in line one, really?), unearned namedrops (“Wicked Game” this is not) or sheer laziness (too many songwriters lean on fake onomatopoeia like “like yeah.”) But again, she’s 16 and promising, and in a healthier music biz she’d be given time to develop that promise instead of a toss into the hype cycle.

Anthony Easton: The isolation and ennui of this, precious, poetic, and much less difficult than the artist thinks it is, has an erotic languor that can only happen in the suburbs in late summer — and as much as I dread school ending in the fall, it kind of hits my mood too. Extra point for the mocking invitation to role-play and the voyeurism, for making the eroticism directed from the author as autonomous subject.

Alfred Soto: It’s churlish to criticize a sixteen year old who still hasn’t ridden a plane. Talk-singing through difficult verses isn’t a good trick, though; neither is the kind of production spareness that isolates this trick.

Iain Mew: This time Lorde is vague enough lyrically that the words aren’t an issue. The juxtaposition of all the talking up confidence and “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane” is striking and a little adorable, even. What keeps me coming back, though, is the way that the bass and the deep “yeah!” bubble up and suddenly all of that confidence is given unexpected weight. Even when they drop away again, Lorde carries on basking in the afterglow.

Edward Okulicz: I swear I keep hearing the phrase “it’s a new artform” as “it’s a new iPhone” and laughing at the absurdity of how it changes the rest of the chorus not a bit. She out-Lanas Lana in the pre-chorus both in a good way (it’s a catchy bit) and a bad way (you get the feeling it’s kind of vacuous). I sort of wanted it to be a Lana-ish take on “Hollaback Girl” but everything it does, “Royals” did better.  It’s a terrific pose but only an attractive shell of a song.

Reader average: [8.31] (16 votes)

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2 Responses to “Lorde – Tennis Court”

  1. She’s been blowing up in Australia for a while now. I can’t get into her. She just seems really contrived and manufactured to me, like Aus/NZ wanted to make their own little Lana Del Rey.

  2. She’s just gone top 40 on the U.S. Billboard chart with “Royals” so the manufacturing job is successful!