The Love Club EP and The Gospel – “Bravado”

This year a new artist came on to the mainstream scene, although I wouldn’t call her full fledged mainstream just yet. Nevertheless this artist, who goes by the name “Lorde” has received extensive radio play, especially for her song “Royals.”

Lorde, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor,  is a 16 year old singer-songwriter who combines unique musical style with incisive lyrics. Her lyrics are a sort of social commentary on the life of high schoolers. But this is no Justin Bieber. What she writes about is just as complex as the Arcade Fire’s commentary on suburban life in “The Suburbs.”

Lorde has been called a prodigy, and she might very well be. 16 year olds are usually writing music (if we can even call it that) about crushes, having fun on Friday, and the mall. Not so with Lorde. For this reason, and because I work with people from her generation, I wanted to take the next few days to write about her music.

This blog series “Thoughts on The Love Club” will examine a few of Lorde’s songs from a Christian perspective, with the hope of bringing to light how the gospel addresses the needs/hopes/and desires of millennial.

Today we will take a look at the first song of The Love Club EP: “Bravado.”

———————————————————————————–

All my life
I’ve been fighting a war
I can’t talk to you or your friends
It’s not only you
My heart jumps around when I’m alluded to
This will not do

Cause I was raised up
To be admired to be noticed
But when you’re withdrawn it’s the closest thing
To assault when all eyes are on you
This will not do

Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh

I’m faking glory
Lick my lips toss my hair
And send a smile over
And the stories brand new
But I can take it from here
I’ll find my own bravado

It’s a switch flipped
It’s a pill tipped back, it’s a moon eclipsed, whoa
And I can tell you that when the lights come on I’ll be ready for this

It’s in your blood stream
A collision of atoms that happens before your eyes
It’s a marathon run or a mountain you scale without thinking of size

I was frightened of every little thing that I thought was out to get me down
To trip me up and laugh at me
But I learnt not to want
The quiet of the room with no one around to find me out
I want the applause the approval the things that make me go

At first glance it seems to be a typical high school singer-songwriter song. Its about a crush. Its about a girl’s desire to get the crush to notice her. Its about how the girl feels when the crush doesn’t notice her. It’s a typical relationship song. A lot right Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” right? Well not exactly. This song is less about relationships and more about Lorde’s desire to be noticed, adored, and loved. Whereas Taylor Swift keeps it surface level, “she feels crappy because her crush doesn’t notice her,” Lorde takes it down to another level. Lorde asks herself “why do I feel crappy when I am not noticed.” If I were to preach on this I would break it up into two categories:

  1. Crushes as idols
  2. Our need to be adored as a heart idol

Notice some of the key lines in this song:

Cause I was raised up
To be admired to be noticed
But when you’re withdrawn it’s the closest thing
To assault

She was raised up to be admired and noticed. When she doesn’t receive that admiration and approval its like being crushed, its like being assaulted. The desire to be admired and noticed is rooted into our human nature. But moreso than that early on we are taught that we ought to be admired that we ought to be noticed. Think of your early days in school, maybe pre-school or kindergarten. The “good kids” the ones who were well behaved or who got good grades were always awarded. This builds into us the notion that our value is inextricably linked to what we do. Or think of how people gravitate towards cute babies and children. These children are being accustomed to getting attention for their looks or their behavior. So we are raised up to be admired and noticed, this is usually not intentional, but its they way life really goes.

Notice what else she says:

I’m faking glory
Lick my lips toss my hair
And send a smile over

She is faking glory, and her glory is in her looks. Her glory is in how she kicks her lips, or tosses her hair, or its in the allure of her smile. As human beings we are drawn to glorious things. Its how we are built. We are designed to seek after God’s glory. We are designed to receive pleasure from God’s glory. As Piper would say, we are created to be Christian Hedonists. But sin blinds us. We don’t see God’s glory. So we look for glory in other places. This search for glory often results in seeking to make ourselves glorious. We make our selves glorious through our achievements, through our power, through our money, or possessions. We create a counterfeit glory with the hope that others will notice and worship us. We hope that others will see us as glorious and give us the admiration and approval we desire. Its really ironic though, that we receive the admiration and approval we seek when we submit to the glory of God himself.

Notice how she ends the song though:

I was frightened of every little thing that I thought was out to get me down
To trip me up and laugh at me
But I learnt not to want
The quiet of the room with no one around to find me out
I want the applause the approval the things that make me go

Putting your glory out there and not getting approved is heartwrenching. Rejection shakes us at our core. What do we do when we have experienced constant, ongoing rejection? We shut off our desire to be approved of and valued. Lorde says that she has taught herself not to desire approval. She has withdrawn into the “quiet room.” Rejection kills our ability to be intimate with others. Yet, despite her withdrawal, she can never get away from the desire for “the applause”  or the “approval” that drives her. The truth is that we can try to numb ourselves to our feelings when we get rejected. We can shut ourselves down when people fail to recognize our “glory.” However doing this doesn’t solve our problem.

The first step to solve our “approval/glory deficit” is to admit the fact that there is a problem. In our hearts we desire to be made much of, to be glorified, in essence to be worshiped. Lorde points this out very clearly. We need to confess that this is a problem for many of us. Having done this, we need to recognize that there is only one who is worthy of glory, God himself. Once we recognize that God is the most glorious being in the universe, our desire to be glorified slowly begins to fade away (we call this sanctification). Only then, once we desire God’s glory above all else, will we experience the approval and value we so desperately desire. Because then we will realize that God, the glorious king of the universe, the one deserving of all glory, the one we call Father, loves us deeply. He loves us enough to send his son to die for our sins so that we might be reconciled to him.

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