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Perfect Places

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"Perfect Places"
Perfect Places (Official Cover Art) by Lorde.jpg
Single by Lorde
from the album Melodrama
Released 1 June 2017 (2017-06-01)
Format Digital download
Genre Electropop
Length 3:41
Label Universal New Zealand
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Lorde singles chronology
"Green Light"
(2017)
"Perfect Places"
(2017)
"Homemade Dynamite"
(2017)

"Green Light"
(2017)
"Perfect Places"
(2017)
"Homemade Dynamite"
(2017)
Music video
"Perfect Places" on YouTube

"Perfect Places" is a song by New Zealand singer and songwriter Lorde. It was released on 1 June 2017 through Universal Music New Zealand as the second single, following "Green Light" (2017), from her second album, Melodrama (2017). Lorde co-wrote and co-produced the song with Jack Antonoff and Andrew Wyatt, with additional production from Frank Dukes.[1] "Perfect Places" was described as an atmospheric electropop song that blends bass, synths and drum machine beats. In the lyrics, Lorde follows the conclusion of the "teenage party circuit" in Melodrama, wondering where her perfect places are.[1]

The track has been received with acclaim by music critics, with many commending Lorde's songwriting. While it failed to chart in the United States, "Perfect Places" had minor chart placements in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. An accompanying music video for the song was directed by Grant Singer, who also filmed the visual for the album's lead single "Green Light", and premiered on Lorde's Vevo account on 3 August 2017. It shows the artist in various shots alone at the beach, in a restaurant and on a boat. Lorde further promoted "Perfect Places" by performing it live on television on several occasions.

Background and development[edit]

When speaking to The New York Times about the song's composition, Lorde said that it "lived a million times." She added that both she and Jack Antonoff tried "different tempos, used different voicings, took it half time, made it weird and druggy," but nothing worked. One of their issues was how much depth there was to the song. Searching for a solution, Lorde thought of deleting its pre-chorus, and did so saying the track then "follow[ed] a much simpler trajectory." Despite this, they still had "not cracked the code."

As the pair was working on a hook, the idea of having a "mass of multi-tracked Lordes" came up. They proceeded to belt "out the words together beneath the main vocal like a choir of clones." During the recording, Lorde sang multiple takes and changed the sound by moving away or getting closer to the microphone in different parts. In post-production, her takes were layered on top of each other. The work of English singer Kate Bush served as an inspiration for a harmony in the second half of the song. The lyric "Now I don't know which way to go" was changed to "Now I can't stand to be alone" as the pair felt it was too "wishy-washy."[2] On the track's release date, Lorde revealed that riding on the Brooklyn Bridge during the summer and sitting on the Uptown Manhattan subway in the heat, coupled with frequent flights to her residence in New Zealand, prompted her to write the song.[3]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

Lorde and Antonoff wrote and co-produced the song with production handled mainly by Andrew Wyatt and Frank Dukes.[1] "Perfect Places" is an atmospheric electropop song that blends booming bass, glimmering synths and drum machine beats.[4][5] Sarah Grant of Rolling Stone wrote that the verse structures are "punctuated with throbbing syncopation, giving the song a dark, R&B sensibility."[6] Spin noted that the track's "stock dramatic chord movement was backed by church-bell and piano knells."[7] According to sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, "Perfect Places" is set in common time with a "moderate" tempo of 105 beats per minute. The song is composed in the key of E major, with Lorde's vocal range between the notes of C3 and C5.[8]

Lorde annotated several of the song's lyrics exclusively on Genius. She wrote the lyric "Watch the wasters blow the speakers" in November 2016, when she was standing on her porch watching her friends fiddle with the speakers inside. Another verse, "I hate the headlines and the weather" came together on a late summer day in New York, with the singer noting how horrific the news was every day. The last lyric she annotated was "Now I can't stand to be alone" which Lorde says she wrote after realizing the main reason for her partying habits was "dreading sitting at home" by herself hearing her thoughts "hit the walls."[9][10]

Critical reception[edit]

"Perfect Places" received critical acclaim from music critics, with several comparing the song to her 2013 single "Team". Jenn Pelly of Pitchfork awarded it "Best New Track", writing that the song "slides in on a spacious, charcoal beat à la Pure Heroine's 'Team,' but reality has grown crueler since then." Pelly further described Lorde as a "songwriter who still vividly celebrates out-of-step self-possession." [11] Winston Cook-Wilson of Spin compared the lyrics' setting to "Green Light" and added that the song had "a charm [in its] imperfectness," in that Lorde does not know where she is headed. Wilson said the track's main message is that there is "no perfect place" even when "pursuing it leaves you feeling just as lost [...] as you were at the start."[12]

In a series of reviews by five editors on PopMatters, the average score for the track was a 7.4 out of 10. Chris Tiessen commended Lorde's "melodies, rhythmic delivery, and vocal layering" saying they were at a "peak performance." Conversely, Steve Horowitz gave it a mixed review, saying that Lorde "carries the patina of jaded adolescence" but the "passion" seems "elusive." In contrast, Chris Ingalls called it "highly infectious" and "brand new" saying it already sounded "classic and timeless." Adriane Pontecorvo called the track a "good end-of-summer single choice," which is "emotional, both carefree and bittersweet," saying Lorde has "done more interesting songs before," but she ended by calling it a "solid" single. Sharing similar sentiments, Mike Schiller said the song "doesn't quite land the way it feels like it should," but asserts the singer "remains fascinating and impossible to simply ignore."[13] Noisey editor Phil Witmer called it a "triumphant closer" to the album and felt the chorus is like the refrain of The Beatles' "Hey Jude" (1968) except it "actually slaps."[14]

National Public Radio ranked the song number 36 on their 100 Best Songs of 2017 list. NPR's Lyndsey McKenna compared it to the "last glass of wine that you probably didn't need, but you pour anyway with end-of-the-evening abandonment."[15] The Guardian critic placed the track on its Sounds like Summer list, likening the chorus to Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" (2014), but commending the recording for retaining "Lorde’s singular melancholia."[16] Pigeons and Planes editor Joyce ranked the song at number four on their Best Songs of 2017 list saying that Lorde captured an "internal conflict in a way that [was] both forthright and poetic." She went on to say that "Perfect Places" is one of the singer's "most mature offerings yet."[17] Complex ranked the song at number 22 on its year-end list, calling it "an earnest, yearning pop anthem that would have been the best song on Pure Heroine."[18] The song was ranked the 71st greatest song of 2017 by Australian alternative music station Triple J.[19]

Live performances[edit]

Lorde performed the song on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on 16 June 2017, the same day Melodrama was released. She was dressed in "an oversized white suit" with a halo of flowers taped to the back which was compared to the outfit worn by David Byrne in the Talking Heads 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense. Throughout the performance, Lorde threw up her hands in jagged movements, sharply gulping in air between each vocal line and enunciated consonants with harsh plosives on the microphone. Rolling Stone editor Ryan Reed praised Lorde's band for "nailing the song from the verse's stark piano to the chorus' 3-D blast of synth and arena-sized drum."[20] Ben Kaye from Consequence of Sound called the performance "powerful" stating that she proved to be as "passionate on late night television as she is on stage".[21]

She also closed out the Much Music Video Awards on 18 June 2017 by singing "Perfect Places", along with "Green Light". She wore a red tracksuit and crop top, singing with a choir of "tracksuited kids" while fireworks exploded above her. Stereogum writer Tom Breihan stated that her performance was "enormously fun to watch, with her skeleton rap hands and her theatrical intensity".[22] Geena Kloeppel from Spin described Lorde as having a "fiery vision on stage". [23] She also performed at Late Night with Seth Meyers on 17 July 2017. Lorde opted to perform a stripped down version of the track and then dance freely and "enthusiastically", which Rolling Stone's Elias Leight said added a "forlorn sensibility to the song, complimenting the lyrics in a literal way". [24] Spin writer Anna Gaca called it a "great rendition", noting the "choir of young people wearing matching monogrammed Melodrama tracksuits", which helped elevate the song.[25]

Music video[edit]

Background[edit]

The accompanying music video for "Perfect Places" was directed by Grant Singer, who also directed the visual for "Green Light". The video was shot in Jamaica.[26] It was released on Lorde's YouTube channel on 3 August 2017.[27]

On the video's release, Lorde took to Twitter to announce a series of subliminal references in the visual for fans to find. A scene where Lorde holds a lightbulb as a microphone in a dark-lit room interpolates Paramore's "Ignorance" (2009) video, while another shot with her nearly submerging her body in a small pond was compared to the group's visual for "Monster" (2011). During "Perfect Places", Lorde sits alone in a restaurant with several empty champagne glasses around her; this reference is taken directly from the Melodrama track "Sober II (Melodrama)" where she sings: "Oh, how fast the evening passes / Cleaning up the champagne glasses."

The yellow dress and safari-style hat worn by Lorde in the music video take inspiration from a similar outfit of Tarzan's Jane. The dress has also been compared to the one Beyoncé sports in her video for "Hold Up" (2016). In one scene, Lorde shoots a pair of coconuts from a palm tree with a shotgun, which drew comparisons to Lana Del Rey's "High by the Beach" (2015) video where Del Rey shoots down a helicopter. Another shot, showing Lorde swinging from a giant tree swing draped with hanging moss, is a reference to her cover of The Replacements' "Swingin Party" (1985) on the extended version of Pure Heroine. The lyrics of "Swingin Party" literally revolve around her partying excessively. During the video, Lorde also sits outside on a balcony and serves herself tea, which was compared to Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" (2009) video.[28][29]

Synopsis[edit]

In this scene, Lorde sits on a chaise longue chair, overlooking a balcony as she serves herself a cup of tea. It was compared to Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" video.

The video begins with Lorde in a straw hat and white button shirt, walking toward a field of tall grass with a machete. An interpolated scene is also shown where she lifts her hands in the air next to a bonfire. In the following scene, she walks through a gate that automatically opens overlooking a clear blue ocean. She lays her shoulder next to one of the gate's sides while the artist's name and song title appear in retro orange letters. Lorde then stands alone on a sandy beach. The next scene shows her walking the beach at dusk as she stares at the water.

She then swings on a giant swing, draped in hanging moss, suspended from a tree limb. As the chorus begins, Lorde is shown in different shots dancing wildly, running across the coastline, followed by her nearly submerging herself in a small pond. The next scene shows Lorde alone in a restaurant filled with empty champagne glasses with an array of plants and flowers around her. She is then laying down on an outdoor chaise longue pouring herself a cup of tea. Lorde is then shown alone in a boat, wearing a yellow caftan dress and a hat as it floats off in the distance. She shoots a coconut from a palm tree with a shotgun and hits a lightbulb to the rhythm of the song. Continuing in a similar way, the rest of the video features several scenes shown before and ends with her singing into a lightbulb and then leaving.

Reception and analysis[edit]

The video was well-received from critics, with many commending its scenery. Cosmopolitan compared the coconut scene to Betty Draper from Mad Men.[30] Arielle Tschinkel from Idolator called the video "visually stunning", adding that it places Lorde as the "focus with scenes out of a postcard as her backdrop."[31] Uproxx editor Derrick Rossignol expressed that the video was "beautiful", noting that the "dynamic and anthemic pop track" perfectly scores the moments of "diverse aesthetic wonder in a way that both the song and visual deserve."[32] Abraham Martinez from i-D expressed that the visual was a "theatrical tour de force with nature's elements as Lorde's only co-stars."[33]

The video was also analyzed by several fashion websites for the outfits Lorde wore. The Cut revealed that several of the outfits worn in the video belonged to the Jacquemus, Vaquera and Zandra Rhodes' Shrimpton Couture collection.[34] Melissa Minton from W magazine noted that the singer marked a transition from her darker fashion clothing and dark lips to a "more refined, sexy, glam look that's a bit more tame but just as witchy (and bewitching)."[35] Vogue editor Daise Bodella noted that Lorde's decision to "spotlight young, rising designers certainly points the star in a more fashion-forward direction." She concludes by saying that the singer's style "shows a young woman who has comfortably come into her own."[36]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleLength
1."Perfect Places"3:41

Credits and personnel[edit]

Recording and management

Personnel

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Melodrama.[37]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2017) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[38] 44
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[39] 23
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[40] 10
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[41] 76
Croatia (HRT)[42] 64
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[43] 83
Denmark Airplay (Tracklisten)[44] 9
Ireland (IRMA)[45] 91
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[46] 11
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[47] 76
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[48] 95
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[49] 13
US Rock Airplay (Billboard)[50] 24

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Catalogue no. Ref.
United Kingdom 1 June 2017 Digital download Virgin None [51]
United States Streaming Universal Music New Zealand B06XHPQBRQ [52]
Germany 2 June 2017 B06XHR7W73 [53]
United States 6 June 2017 Alternative radio Virgin None [54]
Various 16 June 2017 Digital download Universal Music New Zealand [55]
Italy Contemporary hit radio Universal [56]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Hear Lorde's New Existential Party Anthem 'Perfect Places'". Rolling Stone. 1 June 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  2. ^ Weiner, Jonah (12 April 2017). "The Return of Lorde". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  3. ^ Kaufman, Gil (1 June 2017). "Lorde Releases Booming Summer Party Anthem, 'Perfect Places'". Billboard. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  4. ^ Murphy, Sarah (1 June 2017). "Lorde "Perfect Places"". Exclaim. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  5. ^ Sharples, Grant (1 June 2017). "Lorde Releases New Single, "Perfect Places"". Paste. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  6. ^ Grant, Sarah (1 June 2017). "Hear Lorde's New Existential Party Anthem 'Perfect Places'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  7. ^ Cook-Wilson, Winston (1 June 2017). "On "Perfect Places," Lorde Searches For Where and What She Wants to Be". Spin. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Lorde "Perfect Places" Sheet Music (Piano Solo) in E Major – Download & Print". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  9. ^ Nostro, Laura (2 June 2017). "Lorde Breaks Down Her New Single "Perfect Places"". Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  10. ^ Strauss, Matthew (2 June 2017). "Lorde Annotates New Song "Perfect Places": "I'm a Mess"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  11. ^ Pelly, Jenn (1 June 2017). ""Perfect Places" Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  12. ^ Cook-Wilson, Winston (1 June 2017). "On "Perfect Places," Lorde Searches For Where and What She Wants to Be". Spin. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  13. ^ PopMatters Staff (25 August 2017). "Lorde - "Perfect Places" (Singles Going Steady)". PopMatters. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  14. ^ Phil, Witmer (1 June 2017). "Lorde's "Perfect Places" Is Pretty Much One Big, Triumphant Hook". Noisey. Vice. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  15. ^ McKenna, Lyndsey (13 December 2017). "The 100 Best Songs Of 2017". NPR. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  16. ^ Hutchinson, Kate; Beaumont-Thomas, Ben; Gibsone, Harriet; Elan, Priya; Bakare, Lanre; Lee, Benjamin; Mumford, Gwilym (21 June 2017). "Sounds like summer: our writers pick their songs of the season". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  17. ^ Gardner, Alex; Corrigan, Graham; Siber, Alex; n.a., Joyce; Kelly, Katie; Walaszek, John; Moore, Jacob; Black, Adrienne; Skelton, Eric; Price, Joe; n.a., Khal (19 December 2017). "Best Songs of 2017". Pigeons and Planes. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  18. ^ Klinkenberg, Brendan (19 December 2017). "The Best Songs of 2017". Complex. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Humble winner: Kendrick Lamar's hit single tops the hottest 100". Sydney Morning Herald. 27 January 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Watch Lorde Perform Artful 'Perfect Places' on 'Fallon'". RollingStone. 16 June 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  21. ^ Kaye, Ben (16 June 2017). "Lorde performs "Perfect Places", admits to Onion Ring-gate on Fallon — watch". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  22. ^ Breihan, Tom (19 June 2017). "Watch Lorde Perform "Green Light" & "Perfect Places" At MMVAs". Stereogum. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  23. ^ Kloeppel, Geena (19 June 2017). "Watch Lorde Perform "Green Light" And "Perfect Places" At The iHeartRadio MMVAs". Spin. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  24. ^ Leight, Elias (18 July 2017). "See Lorde Belt 'Perfect Places' With Choir on 'Seth Meyers'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  25. ^ Gaca, Anna (18 July 2017). "Watch Lorde Perform "Perfect Places" on Seth Meyers". Spin. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  26. ^ Whitehead, Mat (8 August 2017). "Lorde Challenged The Internet To Find 'Easter Eggs' In Her 'Perfect Places' Video". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  27. ^ Lorde - Perfect Places on YouTube
  28. ^ Gaca, Anna (3 August 2017). "Can You Find the Easter Eggs in Lorde's New "Perfect Places" Video?". Spin. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  29. ^ Bartleet, Larry (4 August 2017). "Did you spot all the easter eggs in Lorde's new video?". NME. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  30. ^ Min, Lilian (4 August 2017). "Lorde's "Perfect Place" Is An Island With No Other People On It And Yes, Same". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  31. ^ Tschinkel, Arielle (3 August 2017). "Lorde's "Perfect Places" Video Shows Her Version Of Paradise". Idolator. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  32. ^ Rossignol, Derrick (3 August 2017). "Lorde's 'Perfect Places' Video Was, As You'd Expect, Filmed In A Bunch Of Gorgeous Locations". Uproxx. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  33. ^ Martinez, Abraham (3 August 2017). "watch as lorde takes you to 'perfect places' in her latest music video". i-D. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  34. ^ Petrarca, Emilia (4 August 2017). "All the Looks Lorde Served Up in Her New 'Perfect Places' Video". The Cut. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  35. ^ Minton, Melissa (3 August 2017). "Lorde Stuns in Nine Dramatic Looks in Her "Perfect Places" Music Video". W. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  36. ^ Bedolla, Daise (4 August 2017). "In "Perfect Places," Lorde Reveals a Brand-New, Fashion-Forward Look". Vogue. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  37. ^ Melodrama (Media notes). Lorde. Lava Records / Republic Records. 2017.
  38. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Lorde – Perfect Places". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  39. ^ "Ultratop.be – Lorde – Perfect Places" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  40. ^ "Ultratop.be – Lorde – Perfect Places" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  41. ^ "Lorde Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  42. ^ "Croatia ARC TOP 40". HRT. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  43. ^ "ČNS IFPI" (in Czech). Hitparáda – Digital Top 100 Oficiální. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert 201725 into search. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  44. ^ "Hitlisten.NU – Lorde – Perfect Places" (in Danish). Tracklisten. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  45. ^ "irish-charts.com – Discography Lorde". Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  46. ^ "Charts.nz – Lorde – Perfect Places". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  47. ^ "SNS IFPI" (in Slovak). Hitparáda – Singles Digital Top 100 Oficiálna. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert 201723 into search. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  48. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  49. ^ "Lorde Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  50. ^ "Lorde Chart History (Rock Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  51. ^ "This week's new releases". Official Charts Company. 1 June 2017. Archived from the original on 5 June 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  52. ^ "Perfect Places [Explicit]". Amazon. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  53. ^ "Lorde - Perfect Places [Explicit]" (in German). Amazon. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  54. ^ "Future Releases on Alternative Radio Stations". All Access Media Group. Archived from the original on 5 June 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  55. ^ Digital release of "Perfect Places":
  56. ^ Aldi, Giorgia. "Lorde "Perfect Places"" (in Italian). Radio Airplay SRL. Retrieved 3 January 2018.