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Last week, Lorde delivered “Green Light,” a breakup anthem that rivals Britney Spears’s “Stronger” and Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.” But while we were getting swept up in that incredibly catchy chorus and Lorde’s flair for dancing in public restrooms, we seem to have overlooked an obvious truth about this song: “Green Light” is, finally, the response to “Hotline Bling” that we’ve been waiting for over the last year and a half.
A jam built on the foundation of a recent-ish breakup, “Green Light” explores the emotions that accompany a relationship ending and realizing everything you thought you knew about the person you loved is a lie. (See: “She thinks you love the beach / You’re such a damn liar.” That said, the beach is totally overrated — just be honest, bro.) In only a few verses, Lorde brilliantly expresses the frustration of wanting to move on from an ex-partner and not quite being able to. She knows how the memories of better days can cloud that ability to move on, leaving you to lament nights spent kissing on the light-up floor.
And doesn’t that story sound eerily similar to the one in “Hotline Bling,” when you think about it? Whether she meant to (probably not), Lorde is giving us the other side of Drizzy’s tale of woe. She has shown us exactly what it would sound like if Aubrey’s nameless cell phone caller could clap back. Here’s how.
Drake: “Ever since I left the city, you / Started wearing less and going out more”
Lorde: “I do my makeup in somebody else’s car / We order different drinks at the same bars”
“Hotline Bling” is about a former flame who stopped staying in when Drake called it quits. And while this column is in no way a suggestion that Drake and Lorde were ever together IRL (but if they one day, many years from now, should decide to give love a try, just remember that I was the first to say I’d be cool with it, why not), it is 100 percent a suggestion that while Drizzy sat navel-gazing, his ex was busting a move down the street and prepping for her night in the back of an Uber — just like Lorde sings about doing in this song. As we can see, girlfriend is living her best life, taking control right up to the point of making her driver pull over so she can dance on his roof. Speaking of which …
Drake: [subdued dancing]
Lorde: [dancing that is not subdued at all]
As we gleaned from the “Hotline Bling” video, Drake knows how to dance a bit. But as we gleaned from the “Green Light” video, Lorde can dance in circles — maybe even around him. Because where Aubrey presented his moves with a conscious restraint (much like the shade he was throwing), Lorde abandons her inhibitions almost completely, making everything from the bathroom sink to the receiver of a pay phone into her partner in two-stepping — no turtlenecks required.
Drake: “Ever since I left the city, you / Got a reputation for yourself now”
Lorde: “Sometimes I wake up in a different bedroom / I whisper things, the city sings them back to you”
The city is clearly out to fuck shit up by shouting whatever it is Lorde is trying to say into Drake’s heart and mind. The moral of the story: the city loves drama, so if it says anything to any of you guys, don’t believe it for a second. (The city is Gretchen Wieners from Mean Girls.)
Drake: “You make me feel like I did you wrong”
Lorde: “Thought you said that you would always be in love / But you’re not in love no more”
So “Hotline Bling” delivers the following message: We broke up but you moved on, and that sucks, and I didn’t think I was so terrible, but you’re making me feel terrible, so what the hell? On the flip side, Lorde presents a call-out typically reserved for our MSN screen names circa 2005: You said you loved me and I believed you, but then you changed your mind, so what the hell? (Only in a better and catchier way than any of my MSN names, and this is why they were usually ignored.)
Your move, Drizzy.
Drake: [dances on the light-up floor]
Lorde: “Did it frighten you? / How we kissed when we danced on the light-up floor?”
Honestly, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that whomever Drake has kissed on the light-up floor (if he ever did — we aren’t friends, I don’t know him) probably played a pretty crucial role in his life, since he set an entire video in and/or around said floor.
Drake: “You used to call me on my cell phone / Late night when you need my love / I know when that hotline bling / That can only mean one thing”
Lorde: “But I hear sounds in my mind / Brand-new sounds in my mind”
Translation: that hotline-bling tone has long gone dead, because guess what? It is the Year of Our Lord 2017. Who even calls anybody on the phone anymore? There are newer and better sounds to hear in one’s mind. (Meanwhile, I like to imagine the new sounds Lorde is hearing are the ones that help you fall asleep — like rainforest recordings or whale calls or whatever responsible adults use.)
Drake: “Used to always stay at home / Be a good girl, you was in the zone / You should just be yourself / Right now, you’re someone else”
Lorde: “Honey, I’ll come get my things but I can’t let go / I’m waiting for it, that green light / I want it”
And this is where it all comes to a beautiful, operatic peak: Drake, in the throes of “Hotline Bling,” condemns his ex’s sexual liberation after their relationship’s demise. To him, his subject is no longer what he’d constitute as a “good girl” — or, more specifically, he doesn’t recognize her behavior now that she’s not operating within the context of their relationship (#deep).
But Lorde sees the full picture: She knows she’s living differently now that she’s single. She’s reacting accordingly and embracing new patterns and realities while navigating the ins and outs of life after a breakup. Where Drake is all, “Where did my ex-girlfriend go?” Lorde’s response would be, “Hey, I’m living my life, but I’ll be back to pick my shit up civilly when we’re both in a better headspace.”
And, of course, everybody here knows Drake and Lorde have never dated and probably will never date and Lorde has never alluded to “Green Light” being the response to “Hotline Bling” that we’ve been waiting for since October 2015. Instead, what I’m saying is this: “Green Light” is coincidentally the perfect response to “Hotline Bling,” and I choose to live in a world in which Drizzy’s “how dare you move on, why have you done this?” narrative is met with “the same reason I can dance on an Uber in the middle of an intersection: because I can.”Share