The song and video for Lorde‘s third Solar Power single, “Mood Ring,” has dropped, but don’t be fooled: The person singing in the dazed, spa-like video isn’t representative of Lorde herself. Instead, it’s her strikingly blonde, nameless alter ego, a character who’s obsessed with today’s pseudo wellness/spirituality culture.
The video opens with a written cautionary statement reading, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” before a platinum-haired Lorde opens her eyes and begins to sing about the woes of connecting to one’s feelings in the modern age. The airy, guitar-led track both lightly mocks the promotion of a phony holistic lifestyle and sympathizes with people who find comfort in that same lifestyle.
“It goes without saying I feel tons of empathy for this character,” she elaborated in an email bulletin sent to her mailing list subscribers right after “Mood Ring” premiered. “It was never my intention to fully flame her, although I don’t let her off the hook. We’re living through wild times, and it’s tough to begrudge anyone the methods they employ to feel sane, questionable though they may be.”
Fifteen minutes before “Mood Ring” premiered on YouTube, Lorde hosted a livestream and answered questions about Solar Power, which arrives Aug. 20, and prepared fans for the slightly silly portrayal of modern spirituality they were about to see. “I sort of underwent something of a transformation for this video because the song is satirical,” she told more than 25,000 fans tuned in to the livestream. “I was writing from the perspective of a character who is not me, although I have at times shared some of her traits. She’s very cool, I love her vibes.”
During the livestream, Lorde also answered fan questions about the new song and album, saying “Mood Ring” strikes her sound-to-color synesthesia as being a light lilac color, and revealing that “Oceanic Feeling” — the last song she wrote for the record — is probably her favorite track off Solar Power. She also showed her new sticker collection, which she plans on keeping in her bag and doling out to fans she meets in public.
The New Zealand-born artist also talked in more detail about the meaning behind “Mood Ring,” explaining it’s in part a “metaphor for the magical thinking we employ at times to feel well.” She said she sometimes catches herself doing things like “bending” her horoscope to fit what she needs to be told in the moment, an example of how she relates to the temptation to buy into spirituality.
“When making this album I did a deep-dive into ’60s, Flower Child culture,” she explained further in a press release statement. “One thing that occurred to me as a major parallel between that time and our time is our wellness culture and our culture of spirituality, pseudo-spirituality, wellness, pseudo-wellness. Things like eating a macro-biotic vegan diet or burning sage, keeping crystals, reading tarot cards or your horoscope. These were all things that they were dabbling in back then, and that me and my girlfriends are dabbling in today.”
Watch blonde Lorde’s sardonic “Mood Ring” music video below: