A lot of people are losing their minds over Lorde’s new album Solar Power. I haven’t listened to it yet, so I can’t pass judgement on whether people are justified in their reactions, but I sure as hell can pass judgement on those people in general. Specifically, I judge them because I resent them. I haven’t listened to Solar Power yet because I don’t want to be one of those people caught up in the headlong rush of a new release (here’s looking at my friend, Carlisle, who posts elaborate aesthetic collages to her Instagram story about Lorde’s albums).
Part of my resentment is the comical sentiment of “Wait, I liked them first.” It’s the classic trope of fighting for originality and insisting that you’re the cool one, unlike all those other dweebs. But a lot of that has now transformed into a resentment founded in “Wait, I see them as more than just their music/a surface-level celebrity.”
I used to always be anti-popular music. In middle school and high school, I prided myself on not knowing any of the songs on the radio. In retrospect, it was yet another avenue in which I sought to differentiate myself from my peers in order to hold myself up as better and more sophisticated than the common masses.
Now, I’m a little older and more appreciative of the fact that not all popular artists are brainless and artless (though, in my book, it’s still the exception, not the rule). I remain intrigued by Lorde’s album Melodrama, I actually really enjoy the sound of Bastille, and I even have a tattoo inspired in part by a Mumford and Sons album… But I’m still deeply annoyed that so many still do not seem to realise there’s more to music than, well, the music—there’s more to Croatian-Irish-New Zealander Ella Yelich-O’Connor than the author-functionship of Lorde. Conversely, I still don’t like Taylor Swift, the musician—I would never listen to her on my own time for enjoyment—but I respect her discrete personhood as Taylor Swift, the other-than-musician, and accept why others hold her in such high esteem.
Even now, I still find myself affronted when my artists become popular and their sound starts changing for the worse as demand grows and they inevitably sign with a new label. I didn’t ask to be stuck with all these other fans who don’t get the artist the same way I do and now I can’t publicly say “I like X” because then I’ll be equated with all those other people, and that’s just unacceptable.
Maybe I should make myself listen to Solar Power today and try to simply enjoy it without the complicated strings of judgement and prejudice attached.