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My name's Clifford Stumme, and I explain the deeper meanings of popular songs. Let's have a conversation about what you think about the songs and go deeper together. Feel free to email me at clifford@popsongprofessor.com with questions or ideas!

What does "Supercut" by Lorde mean?

What does "Supercut" by Lorde mean?

"Supercut" Lyrics Meaning

Lorde's new album Melodrama is here, and it's fantastic. The songs on it have more of an acoustic, dry sound than the dark, heavy sound of Pure Heroine, but that doesn't keep songs like "Supercut" from being absolutely mesmerizing. In fact, the dry, clear sound brings the lyrics to the forefront as Lorde works through and seeks to understand a new young adult stage in her life that was the natural sequel to her ode to teenager-hood in Pure Heroine. 

Don't forget to check out my podcast explaining Melodrama here or on iTunes

"In my head, I play a supercut of us"

"Supercut" is a sad, emotional song about being confused over the failure of a romantic relationship. Fan theories suggest the song is about her breakup with a boyfriend in 2015, and the song itself suggests the further details that the relationship wasn't really going anywhere and that Lorde didn't know how to fix it. So, in this song, she looks back to only the good times, tries to ignore the bad ones, and wonders what she did wrong. 

Verse 1

In my head, I play a supercut of us
All the magic we gave off
All the love we had and lost
And in my head
The visions never stop
These ribbons wrap me up
But when I reach for you
There's just a supercut

The first verse of "Supercut" sets up the premise and takes us into the action of the story. Lorde sings that in her head, she "play[s] a supercut of us." A supercut is like the opposite of a bloopers real. It's a mash up of all the best moments and scenes from a story or series. So, Lorde decides to think about this relationship in this way, remembering the best moments--"[a]ll the magic we gave off." 

But "Supercut" quickly takes a sadder direction when she also remembers all "the love we had and lost," and she confides that in her "head," "the visions never stop." She can't stop thinking about them, and she's truly feeling the heartbreak of the now dead relationship. She tells us that "[t]hese ribbons wrap me up," and this could be a reference to memories from the past incapacitating her because she can only think about them. 

But thinking of her old relationship in terms of only the good times does little good for her, and she recounts that when she "reach[es] for you / There's just a supercut." He's no longer there with her, and even when she thinks more deeply and longingly about the relationship, she's abruptly confronted by memories that remind her that her favorite parts don't tell the whole truth of what she experienced. The relationship was a bad one overall, and she can't retroactively make it better. 

Pre-Chorus

In your car, the radio up
In your car, the radio up
We keep trying to talk about us
I’m someone you maybe might love
I’ll be your quiet afternoon crush
Be your violent overnight rush
Make you crazy over my touch

The pre-chorus seems to be the memory of one particular event with her ex. She remembers being in his "car" with "the radio up." As they "keep trying to talk about us," they find it difficult, seemingly because he only thinks of her as "someone [he] maybe might love." He can't commit fully to the relationship, but she's much more excited about him.

She wants to be his "quiet afternoon crush" or his "violent overnight rush." Whether the relationship is relaxed or exciting, she's ready to be in, willing to be whatever she needs to be for him (an attitude that interviews and other songs on Melodrama suggest that she's over). She even promises physical intimacy (whether sexual or emotional) when she promises to "[m]ake you crazy over my touch."  

Chorus

But it’s just a supercut of us
A supercut of us
Oh, it’s just a supercut of us
A supercut of us

But even as she has these memories of her time with him--memories that started fun with taking a road trip together and devolved into define-the-relationship talks--she pulls herself back into the present and reminds herself that "it's just a supercut of us." The relationship is over, no matter how good some of the memories are. 

Verse 2

So I fall
Into continents and cars
All the stages and the stars
I turn all of it
To just a supercut

In the second verse of "Supercut," Lorde sings about her reaction to the reminder of good times with him only being a choosy compilation. She sings, "I fall / Into continents and cars," which could likely be a reference to her burying herself in her work of traveling to different countries as a pop artist. As she travels, she visits "[a]ll the stages and the stars"--holds concerts and meets other pop singers or celebrities. But she's still feeling emotionally weighted, so she makes the experiences into "a supercut" to remember it by. She's going to just take in the highlights because she's still so internally conflicted. 

Bridge

Cause in my head in my head, I do everything right
When you call when you call, I’ll forgive and not fight
Because ours are the moments I play in the dark
We were wild and fluorescent, come home to my heart

In the bridge of "Supercut," Lorde takes a more internally-focused look at her own reactions to her memories and tells us that "in my head, I do everything right." Either she's asking what would have happened if she'd reacted perfectly, or she's remembering having handled the situation as well as she could have. Based on context, it could be a combination of the two. For example, she sings that in her head when the ex-boyfriend would call, she'd always try to "forgive and not fight." She wonders if he or she is the one to blame.

These "moments" with him are the ones she "play[s] in the dark" perhaps as she's lying awake at night wondering where it all went wrong. She remembers their good times and remembers the two of them being "wild and fluorescent" and wishes that he'd "come home to my heart." But as she returns to the chorus, she realizes this is wishful thinking and acknowledges that these good times she longs for are nothing more than a "supercut."

Deeper Meaning of "Supercut": A New Mature Perspective on Break Ups

I really like the way Lorde approaches her old breakup in this song. While I honestly have had enough of love and breakup songs in the past few years since I started explaining pop music (part of the reason I loved Pure Heroine so much), "Supercut" has partially softened my heart because Lorde has such a mature, self-aware, and well-reasoned approach to her own experience with heartbreak.

Instead of being bitter or angry, she admits that she wishes the relationship hadn't broken and admits that she maybe went too far in trying to be reconciliatory with someone who doesn't sound like a nice person. But she keeps reminding herself that even if parts of the relationship were good, those parts weren't the majority of it. They were only select parts that she lets herself think about when she misses him. 

The beauty of "Supercut" is that Lorde acknowledges her own willingness to romanticize this old relationship but is also vulnerable and honest enough to admit that she still sometimes wants it.

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