After four lengthy New Zealand years, Lorde finally dropped her long-awaited single “Solar Power” yesterday, as well as an accompanying music video wherein she romps around a beach in a bright-yellow two-piece with a series of dancers who appear to be cheerfully preparing for some kind of human sacrifice (Lorde?). The feather-light song and visuals are a departure for Lorde, who is usually low-key upset about teenagers and human teeth. In this new, butt-cheek-forward era, however, she appears to be channeling the ambient energy of Ari Aster’s Midsommar, Sheryl Crowe’s early aughts discography, George Michael’s “Freedom,” Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again, Lord of the Flies, Godspell, Danny Boyle’s The Beach, Gaspar Noe’s Climax, Supergoop sunscreen, A Tribe Called Quest, Survivor, Hair, Lost, Robert De Niro doing yoga in Central Park in The Intern, The Bible, and the Free People catalogue that they mail you every month even if you don’t order it.
In a new interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Lorde shared that the song was also influenced on a near-psychic level by three other unlikely sources: cicadas, whose mating calls are sampled on the track; Primal Scream’s “Loaded,” a song she’d never heard before she wrote “Solar Power” with Jack Antonoff, but which she now refers to as the “spiritual forebear” and the “original blueprint” for the single; and Larry David’s vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard. Lorde explains that she began writing the song while “on Martha’s Vineyard with my good friend Cazzie, staying at her house. We had just been for a big swim all day.” Though she does not say explicitly that the Cazzie in question is Cazzie David (the two did chat for Interview in November 2020), I feel confident in my assumption that there are no other Cazzies in the entire world who have big swims with Lorde on Martha’s Vineyard. I also feel confident in my assumption that the house in question is not Cazzie’s own, but rather, the home of her father Larry, an irascible comedian whom the Martha’s Vineyard Times has recently described as a “longtime Vineyard seasonal resident.”
Lorde goes on to explain that after her big swim, “My hair was wet, and when I came back into my room, I had made a little Yamaha DX keyboard, and I just started singing and kind of figuring this thing out.” You may be wondering why Lorde felt the need to share that her hair was wet, but this fact is actually quite pertinent to the story. Lorde, famously, has a lot of hair; after a “big swim” in saltwater, her head must be incredibly heavy. In other words, Lorde wrote this song while in some kind of non-insignificant pain. After a few minutes of dripping water all over her bespoke keyboard, Lorde “just put it away and like, had a paddle board, I think.” Days later, when her hair had nearly dried, Lorde left Larry David’s Vineyard retreat and went “into the city to Jack’s,” where the two finished up the song with “all the windows open,” likely to finish the drying process.