From Me to You: ‘Supercut’
‘From Me to You’ is a new series for No Filter that features multiple writers’s interpretations of a single piece of art and the memories they attach to it.
It’s June of 2017, and there’s a line off of singer/songwriter Lorde’s debut, Pure Heroine, that I find myself revisiting incessantly, partly in preparation for the much anticipated release of Melodrama and partly for the sentiment hidden under the slick cynicism of her first album: rushing uncertainty and fumbling expressions of affection and all the wide-eyed wonder that comes with trying find your place in an ever-changing world.
“Bruising the sun, I feel grown up with you in your car,” she sings in “A World Alone,” and all of a sudden it’s June and I’m sitting next to someone who makes me feel new. In the front seat of his car, dying burn of the setting sun striking us to gold, the summer feels infinite.
The image of a car is a motif that Lorde uses often, within both Pure Heroine and Melodrama. It’s fitting. After all, so many significant moments can pass behind the doors of someone’s Ford Focus — fleeting glances at the person behind the steering wheel and heady rushes of excitement over the future stretching ahead, brimming with possibility; fleeting glances at the same person months later, as he blows smoke into the hush of an early September twilight, and realizations of the fact that there is nothing ahead but hollow memories.
“Supercut” is all about that realization: A painful sort of understanding that emerges after you desperately attempt to scramble for a connection that just isn’t there anymore. “In your car, the radio up,” she sings, and it’s the same car she romanticizes in “A World Alone,” but the circumstances are irrevocably, unchangeably, different.
These moments I used to play in the dark — music on a balcony somewhere in the south of Ann Arbor, a stooped tree house crumbling into ruin — will be forever intertwined with the song’s pounding beat. “In my head I do everything right / When you call I forgive and not fight,” Lorde says, and the beat swells; all the emotion trapped in the final sprint to the end of a dwindling relationship expunged in one blinding yell that eventually fizzles out into muted repetitions of “In my head I do everything right.”
In the calm of the song’s last few seconds, Lorde takes a deep breath. I take one too, and we both — slowly, quietly — begin to move on.
June 15th, 2017. It was a warm, windy night before Melodrama dropped. I was walking quickly back to my apartment after drinks with friends ran a little longer than expected, and I was anxious in anticipation of the clock striking midnight. It was 11:55 p.m., and I already had two other friends waiting at my building to listen to Lorde’s sophomore record for the first time. I released myself to a full on sprint when I hit Packard, the elation of summer (and maybe a touch of gin) coursing through my veins. Listening to “Supercut” is a lot like the feeling that washes over me when I recall that night — more drunk on a memory than actually living.
Cut to four days later: I’m at a house party with these same friends, and we’re gifted control of the music. “Supercut” was the obvious first choice; we leapt and twirled to the music, screaming “wild and fluorescent come home to my heart.” We held hands and spun around each other like tiny hurricanes as the party’s wallflowers stared in awe (or perhaps, more accurately, fear). I often go back to that evening, constructing my own supercut of everyone’s perfect faces, all of us dancing for the friends who would be leaving, for the friends who recently returned, for the night that was passing too quickly. We smiled breathless in the afterglow of a song that always seems to end too soon.
This is the magic of “Supercut,” and it set the gold standard for pop in 2017. Undercut with a pulse that gives the track a life of its own outside the album, “Supercut” draws the listener into Lorde’s desperate reach for the past with each breathless verse, before a painfully drawn out comedown in the last minute of the track puts your feet back on the ground. For me, college has been a collection of these supercuts, days and nights filled with crackling energy; evenings when time bent to my will and I finally felt like I had a perfect place — “I turn all of it to just a supercut.”
I close my eyes and there we are. Together, pleasant –– everything is as it should be. I walk by your house and see the light on in your room, but who knows the last time I was actually there. “Supercut” plays in my ears, and I strut to the beat. I imagine I’m with you, but of course, “when I reach for you, it’s just a supercut.”
The bass comes in, and suddenly, I’m dancing with my best friend, Fraley, in my basement. We wanted to have a dance party to release our emotions, so we blasted this song under the mellow blue christmas lights. Head bobbing, tears forming, grin widening –– I was thrown into a mix of pleasure and pain. Instead of dwelling on these fabricated moments, I dance it out every time, letting the lyrics and harmonies speak for themselves. It’s haunting and inspiring, tame but invigorating.
“Supercut” shows me the memories that occurred, but I wish hadn’t and shows me the memories I want to make happen but certainly won't. This song is my pawn to navigate time to whenever and with whomever. Each time I listen, it’s a reminder that I design my own relationships, where in my mind, we’re different people than in reality.
It’s the moments I’ll relive again and again, never quite getting an actual grasp on what they are and what they mean. This song reminds me of that painful, frustrating feeling: not knowing how someone feels about you and not knowing where you are within a relationship. It’s a feeling I have far too often (probably because I listen to this song too much).
When my anxiety is at its peak, I sing along to “Supercut” in my car. I think of you, and I think of you. I think of him and I think of her. I think of lovers and old friends. I think of me and another me, which is some form of the “quiet afternoon crush” and the “violent overnight rush.” “We were wild and fluorescent, come home to my heart." But you will never come home.
In some way, my life feels like a supercut, comprised of snapshots and sensory images of the past or an impossible moment in the future. “All the stages and the stars, I turn all of it to just a supercut.” Thank you, Lorde, for putting this emotion into a tangible piece of art for me to understand, for me to feel.
I listened to “Supercut” a lot last summer, in the middle of a tiny village on the other side of the world. Every day I’d ride past sprawling wheat fields, headphones in, trying to ignore the heat that started too early in the morning, and every day, I had Lorde. I liked to imagine she was singing for me, that she had timed the beat of the drum perfectly to the way my bike wheels were spinning — both of us doing our best to push relentlessly forward. I’d sing along softly sometimes. “Supercut” became almost like a prayer, a strange 6:00 a.m. ritual recitation of words that felt more than a little bit holy: “In my head in my head / I do everything right.” After a couple weeks, it was like that weird way a word can garble on your tongue after you’ve said it too many times consecutively and it starts to lose all meaning. It takes on a new familiarity, though, that’s less about any prescribed definition and more about the way the word sounds and feels on your lips. So “Supercut” wasn’t just a song, it was a physical experience, because Lorde is a hypnotist and “Supercut” mesmerized me that summer.
The heart of “Supercut” is in that ebb and flow between the soaring rush — when her voice splits into harmonies and multiplies into a choir and all the instruments turn ascendant — and those moments at the peaks of the highs when it all snaps back and we’re left with nothing but a jagged bassline and that omnipresent thumping drum. It’s in the minor fall and the major lift, the way she builds a feeling up — “In my head / the visions never stop / These ribbons wrap me up” — before it’s immediately and violently pulled away — “But when I reach for you / It’s just a supercut.” Rise and collapse, rise and collapse, over and over again, repeated till the two are virtually indistinguishable. For me, that’s what the song is about — the way the quiet afternoon crush warps into a violent overnight rush at the speed of sound, the way memories of a better past and a present day broken heart blur until you can’t remember what was painful and what was good, because “I turn all of it to just a supercut.” But it’s OK — the wheels keep spinning and somehow, something pushes you forward. Some mornings that summer, I’d wake up early enough to watch the sun rise. I would look around at the fields, as far as the eye could see in every direction, and watch the light refract on the wheat stalks, turning them into a bright shining gold. I remember how it felt in those quiet, stolen moments — like I could do everything right.