Lorde Sticks Up For Pop Music & Katy Perry

by S. Atkinson
Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Her music is never simply described as pop music. That would be too easy. Sometimes, it feels like critics bend over backwards to give her sound a different moniker, anything beyond simply "pop". And that's perhaps why Lorde's defense of pop music, those bubblegum beats that get stuck in your head all day long, is good for your appreciation of music. The fact that she also expressed her appreciation for Katy Perry is icing on the cake, because while she could play the game of the superior, artsy pop star, she's choosing to opt out. And, even better, she's choosing to explode the myth of pop music being inferior to any other type of music.

Remember, this is the artist who Pitchfork reviews as making "throbbing, moody, menacingly anesthetized pop" and who The Guardian describes combining "the aesthetics of alt-rock" with "the big-tent appeal of pop." Which is funny, because, despite all this ducking and diving on the part of the industry to align her with something less chart-friendly, her New York Times interview reveals that Lorde's a huge fan of commercial pop music, exactly the sort of music that highbrow publications dismiss as unimaginative or derivative.

She opened with an impassioned defense of the genre:

"A lot of musicians think they can do pop, and the ones who don’t succeed are the ones who don’t have the reverence — who think it’s just a dumb version of other music. You need to be awe-struck."

But it wasn't long before she moved on to her tribute to Perry, specifically her track "Teenage Dream," which Lorde sees as having "something holy about it."

She said:

“There’s this sadness about it, where you feel young listening to it, but you feel impermanence at the same time. When I put that song on, I’m as moved as I am by anything by David Bowie, by Fleetwood Mac, by Neil Young. It lets you feel something you didn’t know you needed to feel.”

This is important. Perry may sell industrial quantities of her records, but, in terms of recognition, she doesn't always get much in the way of column inches from the likes of the well-respected music press. The "Chained To The Rhythm" singer has been releasing records since 2001. Pitchfork first started reviewing her work a whopping 15 years later. No wonder she has to be tongue-in-cheek about their coverage.

In her cleverly worded praise, Lorde poses a question to us: why do we find it so easy to understand someone idolizing Neil Young's albums and so distasteful to imagine someone hero worshipping music's California girl? Why do we find it so hard to accept that liking a song is every bit as subjective as whether or not you like the taste of cilantro?

In a genre in which female musicians dominate, the lazy way with which commercial pop music can be dismissed matters. So, go forth and like the thing you like. Tune out the voices telling you that you have to be into ambient noise or jazz or death metal (unless that's what you're into, in which case, turn that volume up). Embrace your love of tunes peppered with "oh baby"s and deliberately heavy autotune. Life's too short for music faking.