When “Solar Power,” the first single from Lorde’s long-anticipated third album, dropped on Thursday, the internet rapidly filled with mentions of previous songs it evoked, most prominently George Michael’s “Freedom 90” and the less-globally-known “Loaded” by long-running British rockers Primal Scream (along with the Eagles’ “Seven Bridges Road,” Kate Bush and others).
In an interview airing today on Apple Music 1, Lorde explains to Zane Lowe that the inspiration for her song came from Primal Scream, but that the group’s frontman Bobby Gillespie gave his blessing. “Solar Power” was written by Lorde with longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff.
More from Variety
“I had never heard Primal Scream in my life, I’d been told to check them out,” she tells Lowe. “I wrote the song on the piano and then we realized, it sounds a lot like ‘Loaded.’ It’s just one of those crazy things that like, they just were the spiritual forebears of the song. I reached out to Bobby and he was so lovely about it — he was like, ‘These things happen, you caught a vibe that we caught years ago.’ And he gave us his blessing. So let the record state: ‘Loaded’ is 100% the original blueprint for this, but we arrived at it organically. And I’m glad we did.”
Interestingly, “These things happen” was the same comment Tom Petty made regarding similarities between Sam Smith’s 2015 song “Stay With Me” and his own hit “I Won’t Back Down.” Smith and his cowriters said they were not previously familiar with Petty’s song but acknowledged the similarities and added his and cowriter Jeff Lynne’s names to the credits and publishing.
“All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen,” Petty said in a statement at the time. “Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by. Sam’s people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement.” Lorde and Antonoff are the sole credited writers and producers for “Solar Power.”
Reps for Lorde and Michael’s publisher, Warner Chappell, did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.
“Loaded” was originally released in the Spring of 1990 and is a highlight of the group’s iconic album “Screamadelica,” which was released the following year and remains a groundbreaking fusion of dance music and rock that regularly appears in “Best Albums of the ‘90s” lists. The song is based on the group’s 1989 track “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have,” which was overhauled into “Loaded” in conjunction with top dance producer Andrew Weatherall.
Michael’s “Freedom 90” was originally released on his “Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1” album several months after “Loaded.” It shares a similar chorus, piano hook and chord progression that was remarked upon at the time but apparently never verged into legal terrain, although such matters are often settled quietly.
Hear all three songs below.
Best of Variety