Though Lorde's age and identity were long ago established beyond a reasonable doubt by the internet's most intrepid detectives, a reasonable doubt about her age and identity still remains. Last week's South Park brought the simmering controversy back into the light by revealing a piece of tantalizing information: Lorde is actually Randy Marsh, a cartoon and semi-belligerent middle-aged geologist.
The episode answers some questions about Lorde's artistic process (she mostly composes her songs in the bathroom at the office); it also leaves us with some interesting questions about Lorde's heretofore-hidden musical history (Marsh is the former frontman of obscure tweenwave act Steamy Ray Vaughn as well as a past collaborator with Steamy Nicks; he is also male, much older than Lorde's purported 17, and fictional); most saliently, it gives us "Push (Ya Ya Ya, I Am Lorde)," the rare type of sultry, engaging, radio-friendly pop that, like last week's South Park and Lorde herself, raises more questions than it answers.
"Push" packs an enormous amount of weight in under 90 seconds. Lorde's vocals, actually sung by Sia, are mournful and hopeful simultaneously, speaking (in a remarkable act of pop-star honesty) directly to the controversy: The image of me that you see is distorted, twisted, broken, fractured. Against a boldly basic Garage Band drum track and the type of dark, shimmering, propulsive synth backing that Randy Marsh first made famous with "Tennis Court" and "Team," the melody bursts open from a bittersweet statement of intention—And I will push, tear down the walls—into a warped, complicated muddle—Oh how boo poosh fida level defense me—and finally, to the sky-high, hopelessly memorable chorus: Ya ya ya, I am Lorde, ya ya ya.
A huge part of what's made Lorde's oeuvre to date so gripping is her frankness about identity. This song feels less like a song than it does a revelation, which it is.
(You can view Lorde's two-second cover of "Push" here.)
Image via Comedy Central