Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad: Lorde ‘Tennis Court’


Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad is a column which sees a panel of writers for The Corner review a range of local singles and grade them out of 10. Check out the song below, read through their opinions and let us know in the comments section your own thoughts and what you’d like to see reviewed next time around.

[YouTube / iTunes]

[Grade: 7.0]

Eden Bradfield: Cynically, I think this is a cash-in fueled by scared deer-eyed execs than a genuinely well-considered single. Partially because it lacks any of the backbone of ‘Royals’– melodically or otherwise, and the lyrics could’ve been ripped out of any hack’s book. But Lorde isn’t a hack- she’s a good writer, which is why I’m attributing this to Becoming Well Known and struggling to work like you did before (‘how can I fuck with the fun again’, as she puts it). Sophomore slump or whatever. [4]

Elizabeth Beattie: The song starts well. It’s smooth and emotive, reminiscent of an art film soundtrack, but it doesn’t reach a strong enough emotional peak to really break through the electronic confines into real emotion. There’s a few really beautiful lyrics stitched into this track, but also a mixture of mediocre imagery which lets it down in places. The strong aspects of this song evoke vivid imagery: I picture driving around town in the early hours of a rainy Sunday night, drenched in nostalgia.

I don’t like the tinny percussion and the production which sounds very “2013”. I have a feeling these elements will affect the track’s longevity. I do like it though, and love the moments which display emotion in a minimal, pure way. But in my mind this song just isn’t free and passionate enough. [7]

Michael Kerby: So, after establishing herself as a bright young word-of-mouth talent with a unique and inventive production style, Lorde has since grown as an artist and ditched all that in favour of your standard post-Umbrella goth-pop thing. Ok.

Melody wise, there’s not much here – it doesn’t have the range of the older stuff, the structure feels similar to ‘Royals’ but not as interesting, and the chorus is only detectable due to the sudden dark-synth explosion that lets you know it’s time for some proper chorus action. And weren’t we completely over that octave-dropped vocal thing in 2011?

Maybe we’re not. I dunno. I’m confused about a lot of things, but I do know that that ‘Tennis Court’ simply sounds fantastic. The opening synths are gorgeous and I wish they went on forever and ever with their subtle phasing effect that sounds like they’re slowly oozing through outer space in search of a fine 1980s cityscape to crash land in, and the aforementioned chorus-assisting fuzz has been rendered to perfection. There’s also the menacing swagger that’s a natural fit with Lorde’s vocals, and an end-credits feeling (from a movie about bad ass tennis people I guess) overall that somehow elevates the whole song far beyond the sum of it’s pretty lazy parts.

So, it’s good. More gooder than most. And when paired with a video featuring Lorde apparently playing some kind of alien goblin creature pulling stinkeyes at you – well, it must be a [10].

Luke Jacobs: I thought maybe by now I would have warmed to Lorde, but sadly she still doesn’t really do it for me. This track feels a little bit stillborn and that to me is perfectly exemplified by the transitions in the song.

There never seems to be a comfortable transition from piece to piece and I think if that aspect worked then this song would really click. Lorde is obviously a writer and composer that is developing and it is exciting to hear good ideas that have the capability to develop into material I would describe as indispensable. At the moment though she is relevant but she needs to keep working hard in order to become vital. [6]

Alex Lyall: ‘Royals’ was pretty big eh guys? ‘Tennis Court’ will inevitably hit that number one spot too [EDIT: it did], and not because Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ is about to give everybody mad cowbell disease either. It also has nada to do with replication, the tone is very fluent and actually lacks the dynamics which made ‘Royals’ such a hook worm. Lyrically, ‘Tennis Court’ is amazing, well the ‘yeah?’ ‘yeah!’ part stinks, but Lorde still knows how to trigger emotional responses in the listener. Often damp and exposed to the elements; a tennis court is perfect symbolism for a teenage romance. Also, my religious studies teacher in school pointed out that the aim of tennis is to keep your opponent on ‘love’, now how great an allegory is that?! [8]


  1. Sounded like a label push & sounded like she recorded it while she was smoking a doobie but I’m not a pop head so may not understand this “sound” and probably just talkin it up like yeah?

    Looooooorde have mercy! (Diana King voice)

  2. d(O_o)b says:

    I’m going to go ahead and disagree with you all. I Listen to stuff from M83, James Blake, Mount Kimbie, The Streets, Lunice (GLOW!), Pilgrim, We are the City, The Oh Hellos etc… Lorde is her own sound, doing her own ting… and honestly the livest part of this track is the YEAH…

    you should look up the Lorde Wookie remix lmbo hilarious!

    Cheers m8s

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