Hey, fellow music fanatics and friends! Thank you for your continued support. This blog is getting popular, and I owe it all to my readers!
This next song is an old favorite of mine, but I would first like to write a brief disclaimer: I am not taking any particular stance or political position with this song choice. I just love the music, the artist, and the poetic quality this piece possesses. I am in no way trying to push any agenda or viewpoint, I am simply here to analyze a piece of art.
That being said, I will introduce our next song: “Buzzcut Season” by Lorde, from her album, Pure Heroine. It might just be the fact that I too have unruly, dark brown, curly hair, but I have always had a soft spot for Lorde, and this song is definitely one of her best. Her willowy voice has the power to plunge listeners into a deep, dreamy state. And I would know. I once listened to this song on repeat for a full 15 hours while reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.
You can look online at hundreds of interpretations of this song. Some say it is about society’s corrupt influences on teens, some claim it is a summer ballad, and others just think it is a mystical song and don’t really care about the meaning.
I, for this blog, will be analyzing the song within the context of war, as this is the way I have always listened to it.
“I remember when your head caught flame
It kissed your scalp and caressed your brain
(I remember when your head caught flame)
Well you laughed, baby it’s okay
It’s buzzcut season anyway
(Well you laughed, baby it’s okay)”
Lorde opens the song with this beautiful personification of fire, “kiss[ing]” and “caress[ing]” her loved one’s scalp. This imagery serves as a metaphor to explain the power that patriotism and war can have on youth. Lorde expresses her concern for this friend or family member, who seems set on going to fight, but this person brushes off her worries by laughing and claiming it will all be okay, joking that, “it’s buzzcut season anyway.” This line references the act of soldiers shaving their heads to join the army.
“Explosions on TV
And all the girls with heads inside a dream
So now we live beside the pool
Where everything is good”
This chorus is pretty straightforward. It discusses the negativity portrayed on TV, but it also addresses a much deeper idea. The explosions depict the trauma and violence of war, while the girls dream about their loved ones coming home (not to say that there are not men dreaming of women who are also at war, there is just no mention of this gender swap, making me believe that this song takes place back before women were permitted to join the army). But she explains how quickly the general population moves on — how desensitized we have become as a generation. We often see the violence going on around us or across the world, and we might worry and pray about it for a while, but eventually we forget. We move on and “live beside the pool/ where everything is good.” We forget because we are often so removed from the situation.
“We ride the bus with the knees pulled in
People should see how we’re living
(We ride the bus with the knees pulled in)
Shut my eyes to the song that plays
Sometimes this has a hot, sweet taste
(Shut my eyes to the song that plays)”
I like to think that this verse is from the point of view of another teenager, who is experiencing the war directly. “We ride the bus with the knees pulled in” portrays teens riding to school or somewhere hopefully safe. They are in a defensive position, with their knees pulled to their chest to protect themselves from the violence they have become accustomed to. When the song mentions that people should see how they’re living, this references the chorus, saying that the people in the country where war is taking place are often most greatly affected by it. Yet those removed from the war can forget that someone else’s life is at stake.
Most of us forget that there are kids in other countries struggling to get an education. “Shut my eyes to the song that plays,” means that the individual is hearing explosions or gunshots or screams and, like a small child, shuts his or her eyes to try to block out the sound. The hot, sweet taste may be the dust or rubble in the air after an explosion.
“The men up on the news
They try to tell us all that we will lose
But it’s so easy in this blue
Where everything is good”
Again, this chorus addresses the negativity in the media while conveying the mindset often shared by the youth: that the news is boring and unimportant. It is easy to forget the violence and war when everything is good inside this dreamy “blue,” which is most likely some made-up fantasy.
“And I’ll never go home again
(Place the call, feel it start)
(And nothing’s wrong but nothing’s true)
I live in a hologram with you
Where all the things that we do for fun
(And I’ll breathe, and it goes)
(Make believe, it’s hyper real)
But I live in a hologram with you”
“I’ll never go home again” transitions us back into the head of the second character, whose home may have just been destroyed (perhaps by the original friend who went to war?). This contrasts with the next line, in which our more privileged narrator is also worried. She is trying to call her army friend, but is not hearing anything from him. Both characters insist that nothing is wrong as a defense mechanism, but they also both admit that nothing is true either. Both try to live in this “hologram” with the people they care about in an attempt to escape their fears. They will take a deep breath, play along with society, and pretend that everything is and will be okay when they know that it will not.
“Cola with the burnt-out taste
I’m the one you tell your fears to
There’ll never be enough of us”
I like this first line about cola. It can mean that there are always bittersweet moments in life. For example, we spend time with friends, but then they leave and go to war. I think this bridge takes us back to the initial verse, in which Lorde is talking to her favorite friend, who is leaving. I think she is trying to argue that since she is so close to him, and he tells her everything, how could he leave her? There will never be enough time for them to spend together.
Again, I’m not taking a stance on war or anything, this is just how I interpret the song. In an interview, Lorde spoke about summer and how she and her friends used to cut their hair when it got hot out. This song is most likely about more light-hearted ideas. But war is the scene that always played in my head while listening to this song.
I think that is the beauty of poetry. While the artist may have intended the piece to be about one thing, someone else can come along and see something completely different. Music is the exact same way; it cannot tell someone how to feel, and it affects each individual differently.
— Haley Renison, Poetry Editor