When news broke that Lorde was actually a 40-year-old male geologist from Colorado, not a gothic female middle schooler from New Zealand, many assumed her career would be over. Though much of the success of her debut album, Pure Heroine, can and should be attributed to the catchiness and relative eccentricity of the pop songs contained therein, a considerable part of Lorde’s appeal was how her off-stage persona genuinely seemed to reinforce her on-stage one. Her efficient brand consolidation wasn’t any less insidious than Taylor Swift’s, but it was at least preferable. By virtue of its design–i.e. that the Lorde brand would suffer if she peddled Diet Pepsi while also peddling an unattainable image of feminine beauty–Lorde had to project that she cared, first and foremost, about her quirkily dark pop songs. Considering the wider Top 100 landscape, it was a godsend of an image to project to impressionable young people. (Bastille doesn’t even have a guitar player.) The news of her duplicity called it all into question.
“Push (Feeling Good on a Wednesday)” is Lorde’s triumphant response to her newfound critics. Set to a classic Lorde backbeat of propulsive drum machines and soaring synths, the song opens with Lorde announcing that she’s “feeling good on a Wednesday.” (She was revealed to be a 40-year-old mustachioed male geologist on a Wednesday.) This is Lorde classifying her supposedly auspicious day as a day like any other, where she “unloads the car, ya ya ya.” In deploying the “ya ya ya,” Lorde both brazenly acknowledges the veracity of the claims and nonchalantly dismisses them. “Ya ya ya,” she sings, “I am Lorde.” She isn’t still Lorde, she never stopped being Lorde. In the song’s indomitable chorus, Lorde encourages the listener to “push” past any and all hardships, regardless of their nature. This simple message of self-empowerment evolves out of a fiendishly complex issue, making its impact stronger, and more lasting. Young or old, he or she, Lorde is Lorde forever, ya ya ya.