Before the release of her third album “Solar Powered,” Lorde’s music was almost notorious for being sad. As a result, a lot of her songs have only been enjoyed as sad bops and are not appreciated in their full capacity. The song most undeserving of this classification is “Ribs.” The time has finally come to right this wrong and recognize “Ribs” as the perfect blend of sadness, nostalgia, and joy.
Lorde herself has admitted that “Ribs” is an exploration of aging, which is something that stresses her — and almost everyone else — out. Think of the track’s angst-inducing lyrics: “It drives you crazy getting old,” “This dream isn’t feeling sweet,” and “I’ve never felt more alone, it feels so scary getting old.” Mix these melancholy words with the song’s progression from slow singing to more fast-paced cries for a recipe of iconic sadness and existential anxiety. However, there’s more to “Ribs” than just the fear of growing old.
The track also has a warmer nostalgic side to it. It’s about longing for the days when one was younger, when things were more simple. Lyrics like, “I want ‘em back / The minds we had” and “Sharing beds like little kids” convey that beneath the underlying stress, there is a softer appreciation of the past.
“Ribs” also works as a song for going out with friends. The song evokes a feeling of company through the lyrics, “You’re the only friend I need / Sharing beds like little kids / And laughing ’til our ribs get tough.” “We’re reeling through the midnight streets” gives off a very strong feeling of stumbling one’s way across town after a party.
The instrumentals of “Ribs” adds to the fluidity of its vibes. The beat and tempo and even the general sound isn’t one that you would associate with sad music. “Ribs” is pretty upbeat, especially as the song reaches its climax and speeds up. This lighter feeling that the song produces counterbalances its lyrics and is what allows the other feelings of the song to be more aptly recognized and felt.
“Ribs” masterfully intertwines sadness with joy, and feelings of fear of the future with fondness of the past. Yet, just because these are mixed together so fluently does not mean that everyone recognizes the song for how dynamic it really is. . “Ribs” is a masterpiece that is simultaneously uplifting and sad, and the feeling derived from the song truly depends on whatever your mindset is when you put your headphones on.