Writing for Feministing.com, a bored psychology graduate has made the shocking discovery that the debut album of international pop sensation Lorde is littered with deep-seated racism towards black people, as well as a series of other crude and distasteful references that disempower the already disenfranchised.
Blogger Veronica Bayetti Flores directed most of her anger at the album’s hit single Royals, which she says shamelessly ridicules the tens of millions of African Americans who own expensive cars, champagne and tigers, while denigrating the well-known black monarchy that is most commonly associated with notions of royalty.
Flores’ analysis has given rise to a series of other articles by white women informing black people of new ways in which they are being oppressed by Lorde’s music. Below, The Civilian breaks down the most common social criticisms being levelled at the songs on Pure Heroine:
- Lorde opens her album with a song about tennis, a sport played primarily by rich, white people, with the exception of Serena and Venus Williams, who Lorde likely believes aren’t proper black people anyway.
- “I know they’ll never own me (Yeah)” – Lorde smugly taunts black people over their history of slavery, reminding everyone that she, unlike them, will never be owned.
- “Be the class clown, I’ll be the beauty queen” – Implies that funny people aren’t beautiful and beautiful people aren’t funny.
- “It looked alright in the pictures” – A defence of South African apartheid as seen through history books.
- “You can watch from your window” – Lorde, coming from a rich, white, upper-class background, dismissively assumes that people of all colours and classes are able to watch tennis out their windows.
- “We’re so happy, even when we’re smiling out of fear” – Slaves were happy.
- White feminists unsure what 400 Lux is, but probably something black people like.
- “I love these roads where the houses don’t change” – Lorde likes well-kempt white neighbourhoods.
- “I’m glad that we stopped kissing the tar on the highway” – Tar is a derogatory term for black people. Lorde is glad she stopped mingling sexually with people of a less pure race.
- “It don’t run in our blood; that kind of luxe just ain’t for us” – Expensive luxuries just aren’t for white people; it doesn’t run in their blood. Obnoxious materialism is only for black people.
- “Let me be your ruler” – Lorde is asking black people to submit to her – a white woman – so that she can rule over them and reap the economic benefits of their labour.
- “Let me live that fantasy” – Lorde desperately wants to live out her fantasy of owning black slaves.
- The presence of Royals on the Billboard Hot 100 chart is keeping Drake down at #4 instead of #3.
- Stereotypically, ribs are a popular dish amongst black people, particularly those from America’s Deep South. Lorde is subtly ridiculing African Americans by placing this song directly after the hyper-racist Royals.
- “I remember when your head caught flame” – Lorde fondly remembers black people being burnt on crosses by the Ku Klux Klan.
- “There’ll never be enough of us” – There will never be enough white people in modern society. It is important that whites retain socioeconomic majorities.
- In her second-biggest single, Lorde artificially divides the world around her into separate “teams”, and tells listeners that “you know, we’re on each other’s team.” She is confident that you’ll know which team you’re on, because everyone is always wearing their team “colours.”
- “The hounds will stay in chains” – Black people will remain in their historical chains, both physically and metaphorically.
- “Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things” – White people may not be very attractive, but they certainly know how to run society a lot better than black people do. This is a scathing political attack on the presidency of Barack Obama.
- “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air” – Lorde is tired of being arrested by police for hate crimes.
Glory and Gore
- As Lorde declares in the chorus, “glory and gore go hand in hand.” This song is a celebration of a time gone by when the white man would dominate lesser races through violence.
- In the song’s opening, Lorde cautions that “we’re slipping off the course that we prepared,” and later suggests that white people should return to their previous ways: “Delicate in every way but one (the swordplay)/God knows we like archaic kinds of fun (the old way)”.
- “Secretly you love this, do you even wanna go free?” – Lorde turns the song directly onto oppressed black people, telling them that they love to be subservient, and questioning whether they would even appreciate freedom.
- Lorde reassures her fans that she is still sane, despite all the overtly racist things she’s said up to this point.
White Teeth Teens
- In White Teeth Teens, Lorde tells the story of teenage members of the Ku Klux Klan. “We wouldn’t be seen dead here in the day,” she sings, referring to the Klan’s tendency to act only at night.
- “We got our methods, and there’s nothing here to stop, to stop this” – Law enforcement can’t stop Lorde or the rest of the Klan, primarily because local police are amongst their ranks.
- “If you want, we’ll help tonight to split its seams, give out bruises like gifts” – If there’s a black church or congregation you want dealt with, the Klan is happy to tear it apart at the seams and bruise its members generously.
- “I wear the robe like no one could” – Lorde is an exemplary Klan member.
A World Alone
- “Raise a glass, ‘cause I’m not done saying it/They all wanna get rough, get away with it” – African Americans want to run amok in the streets, riot and be violent, but think they can get away with it just because they’re black.
- “Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh” – Racism.