By Rachel Cronin
Since Lorde dropped Mood Ring on 17 August, I haven’t stopped listening. It’s catchy, hyptnotic, and (embarrassingly for me) somewhat relatable.
Lorde explores feelings of numbness and how we often find ourselves turning to spirituality for guidance when times are hard. This satirical third single from her newest album Solar Power is a powerful criticism of white people who appropriate elements of spiritual cultures to ‘’better’’ themselves in the name of wellness.
The character in Mood Ring, which Lorde deliberately sets apart from herself from the start of the song, describing the character in question as a dyed blonde, turns to other cultures to find peace and purpose: ‘’You can burn the sage and I’ll cleanse the crystals’’. Burning sage is a spiritual practice in Native American culture, while owning and cleansing crystals, although originally practiced in ancient Egyptian and Indian cultures, has recently blown up with ‘’New Age’’ spirituality that focuses on Yoga and Mindfulness. Lorde, in an interview with Genius, explained how the boom in crystal culture is hypocritical- the crystals we all buy from amazon or etsy could be mined by a child or a worker earning little to no wages- how much ‘’good energy’’ could they be bringing us? Lorde points out this ridiculous irony and others that are similar throughout the song.
Lorde’s self-described most ‘’spicy’’ lyric of the song- ‘’let’s fly somewhere Eastern, they’ll have what I need’’ is a dig at white people who go travelling in the East on ‘’spiritual journeys’’ or to ‘’find themselves’’, using other countries and cultures as an ego-boost, possibly harming them in the process.
The lyrics have sparked online debate about whether Lorde’s fans (particularly those who may be perpetrators of this type of white ‘’spirituality’’) will understand the satire. The discussion that followed concerned whether something can be considered satire if the group of people being caricatured actually know they’re being made fun of.
I was discussing this with a friend recently (we’re both white), and while we were talking about these hypocrites with their stolen spirituality, I looked down and saw the crystal bracelets we were both wearing. I quickly realised that we were the exact type of people Mood Ring (rightly) criticises. And what’s worse is that it took us so long to realise that we were the butt of Lorde’s joke- us, and most white astrology girls in their late teens and early twenties.
So, now that we’ve realised we’re a problem, what should we do? The easy answer is research. Next time you hear about a spiritual practice or new way to ‘’manifest’’ your dream life on social media, take some time to find out whether it steals important elements of other cultures. And if it does, consider ‘’cleansing’’ your body and mind with healthy food and exercise instead.