When Lorde announced her long-awaited third record, Solar Power, the accompanying album art sent the internet into a tizzy. The image depicts the New Zealand singer wearing a sunny yellow rash guard and bikini bottom, jumping in mid-air along a beach; shot from below with a fisheye lens, it also prominently features her butt, illuminated by the Kiwi sun behind her. Fans were delighted, elders clutched their pearls, but Lorde confirmed that yes, she chose the artfully risqué image precisely because it’s “sexy.”
“My friend took it!” she said on a virtual appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. “It’s just me jumping over a friend on the beach.” Lorde acknowledged that the photo is “a little hardcore” — Colbert wasn’t even allowed to show the album on live television — but explains that, while some would immediately sexualize it, she says it depicts joyfulness, innocence, and playfulness. Still, Lorde isn’t a teen anymore, and she said the photo is also “feral, and, I don’t know, sexy.”
In other words, as she grows up in the public eye, Lorde is coming into her own sexuality with exuberance — not heavy-handed imagery in service to the male gaze, or puritanical scandalized shame. It represents that sexual expression can be euphoric and “free,” Colbert remarked, while also joking that “if I had a butt like that, I’d be jumping over someone too.” Lorde quipped back that “you gotta do it while you’ve got it,” and after surviving a year filled with grief and isolation, should be a reminder to us all. Show off your butt in all its peach emoji glory.
Solar Power will be released on August 20, 2022 on Republic Records. See her interview below, and check out the cover art below, if you haven’t seen it yet.