Actually, I was going to write about Katy Perry's album, "Witness," but then Lorde stopped by and released her long-anticipated album, "Melodrama." So I thought, 'why don't I listen to Lorde's album real quick?' which is exactly what I did, and it made me think of Katy Perry's album.
Perry labeled her newest record as "purposeful pop," and I believed it upon the release of the first single Chained to the Rhythm. Okay, so she's going for something political. Not the first artist to go in that direction, but I'd like to hear some pop music with political fringe. Then she released Bon Appetit and then Swish Swish. Then the album came out for the world to hear, and it was met with mixed reviews and reactions, myself included. I didn't find any "purposeful" pop. It was '80s synth and '90s beat inspired pop with a house track, but it wasn't "purposeful," whatever that meant. It was just another pop album by Katy Perry.
So, what does this have to do with Lorde? Well, after listening to "Melodrama," I think I understand what "purposeful pop" might mean.
Pop doesn't need to be political. As long as it evokes some sort of feeling or emotion in the listener, then the song works. Bringing in politics is one way to do that, but pop was and continues to be in some kind of a depressive rut. Songs drag moody trap beats, sung by artists who sounded bored where we wait for a drop instead of a refrain. There are exceptions, of course as more upbeat songs like Despacito and That's What I Like are currently at the #1 and #2 spot on the Billboard 100. But Lorde's
"Melodrama" shows that pop music can sound darker but exhilarating, her voice crooning yet dynamic and alluring.
"Melodrama" isn't politically charged by any means. It's an ode to herself, her personal growth and just to adolescence in general. Sure, we have our fair share of alternative, vocal-cracking pop singers, but as I stated in an earlier article the one who started it all is back to show the newbies (looking at you, Halsey) how it's done. The whole album feels like a friend give you a heart to heart at a stranger's house party while people make out in the bathroom. We delve into Lorde's transition to adulthood, and she ironically manages to avoid any melodrama in the media, unlike another artist whose beef with Taylor Swift has been talked about endlessly. So perhaps the purpose of pop is to tell a story, or allow vulnerability to seep into your work, creating a sense of genuineness. Maybe the purpose of pop is to create an anthem that people can scream at the top of their lungs. Or maybe the purpose of pop, and the purpose of "Melodrama" is multifaceted and too much to explain in one piece.