We grew up in world at war with the very vague enemy known as “terrorism,” and we were lied to about why we were fighting the war in the first place. We belted Green Day’s iconic American Idiot to our hearts’ content, sometimes unsure of why it felt so right. And now we’ve grown up and started industries.
We’re cynics, us Millennials, and that’s translated to the romantic world.
Long gone are the days of marrying that cute girl who grew up on your block after a few conservative dates with minimal drinking, the appearance that neither of you were crazy and a parent-approved proposal. A couple years later, the husband would work while the wife would clean, cook and pop out 1.5 perfect children with nice, biblical first names.
Were couples back then soulmates? Maybe not. In 1932, University of Pennsylvania sociologist James Bossard scanned thousands of marriage license records from Philadelphia. He found that 1/3 of newlywed couples had lived within five blocks of each other. Duplicate studies in other cities showed similar patterns. Five blocks.
Now, we’re not satisfied to marry the closest eligible person of a similar age and location as us. No, now we have Tinder, Bumble, eHarmony, FarmersOnly.com and a whole host of other dating sites that purport to find us our own personal soulmate — or at least someone to hook up with and then promptly ignore.
In the generation of swiping right or left, it’s easy to be indifferent toward trite lyrics like “I will always love you” or “love is all you need.” It’s especially easy when love seems to manifest itself less often in a soulmate and more often in a person with whom you can eat pizza, watch a Vine compilation video and fall asleep next to.
But we still catch ourselves searching for that soulmate, sometimes accidentally. And that’s where Lorde comes in.
On Melodrama, Lorde — herself a member of the Tinder generation — speaks frankly about the easy process of falling in love and it’s incredibly difficult counterpart, falling out of love.
Melodrama contains a story within a story. It’s a common scenario: Two people meet at a party, an alcohol-enhanced instant attraction blossoms between them and — before either person really knows the other — they’re kissing passionately.
Lorde’s been in that same confusing, heart-pounding, thrilling scenario, too, and details it beautifully. “Don't know you super well / But I think that you might be the same as me / Behave abnormally” she sings on “Homemade Dynamite”; “Half of my wardrobe is on your bedroom floor / Use our eyes, throw our hands overboard” she croons on “The Louvre.”
It’s easy to fall for someone. It’s harder to forget about them.
Lorde’s party flashback is bookended by two songs, both titled “Sober.” On the first “Sober,” Lorde is feeling the rush of instant love, but she wonders “What will we do when we’re sober?” When “Sober II (Melodrama)” rolls around 16 minutes later, the party is over — the rush is over — but she’s still there. As expected, she doesn’t know what to do now that the alcohol has worn off: “Lights are on and they’ve gone home, but who am I? / Oh, how fast the evening passes, cleaning up / The champagne glasses.”
Lorde hates that feeling of being alone as much as the rest of us. On “Loveless,” the second half of a medley song, she criticizes the Millennial generation, calling us a “L.O.V.E.L.E.S.S / Generation / All f---in' with our lovers’ heads.”
But Lorde’s most cutting lyric — a revelation, criticism and adage all rolled together — came all the way back on “Sober,” just the album’s second track: “These are the games of the weekend / We pretend that we just don't care / But we care.”
The mask of cynicism falls away. We pretend we don’t care when we don’t get a message back on Tinder, when a date goes horribly wrong, when our crush kisses someone else.
But we’re all lying to ourselves, and Lorde gives us what we crave: the truth.
Alex McCann is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Are you cynical about love, like both Lorde and Alex? Tweet him @alexrmccann.