Let’s take it to the court! The back and forth of gossip and mundane chit-chat form a part of the day-to-day of socialites that Ella Yelich-O’Connor loved to criticize in her first releases. From her album, Pure Heroine (now somewhat of a throwback, right?), these are the song lyrics to “Tennis Court” by Lorde. This is for English learners who might want to better understand informal speech, common expressions, and other cultural aspects of the song. But don’t mind that, all are welcome to read and listen. Enjoy!
To maximize practice: 1) Listen to the song while scrolling and reading the lyrics; 2) read the lyrics and explanations without music; 3) watch the video and listen to check understanding
To read the lyrics without my explanations: Genius
For more Lyrics “Explained”
‘Tennis Court’ – Lyrics & Explanations
- Expressions: “Making smart” here could mean that they are trying to sound smart or be clever. Apparently, Lorde finds these conversations boring.
- Common Expressions: Doing something “for the thrill of it” is for excitement, it’s something that is a lot of fun.
- Slang: “Killing it” in this sense is doing something very well or having lots of success at it.
- Grammar: This is a double negative, but a clever one. It’s a more creative way to say *”Always chasing a million things I want …”
- Expressions / Casual Speech: “Full of it” probably has multiple meanings here. Normally, “full of it” describes a person who is very conceited, stuck up, and thinks mostly about themselves. It can also describe someone who is lying or being misleading. Taken together, she could be saying that she is “full” of the moment, living intensely by the minute.
- Expressions / Slang: To get “pumped up” is to feel good or excited about something, usually because it makes you happy.
- Social References: A “class clown” is the person at school that always makes jokes in class. They may like to tease other students or even the teachers.
- Vocabulary: “In tears” is another way to say “crying.” Add that one to your vocab list!
- Slang / Informal Speech: To “talk it up” is basically to chat or make small talk (have a light or random conversation). Saying, talk it up like “yeah” makes it seem like they won’t have anything deep or especially interesting to talk about, but it will just be to make casual conversation.
- Common Speech: Using “pretty” like this is the same as “kind of” or “fairly.” I guess it comes from the same idea as “fairly,” actually. Not very soon, like tomorrow, but pretty soon, like in the next two weeks.
- Alternative / Figurative Speech: To be “up in flames” is the same as being “on fire.” It is burning. In a figurative sense, it can mean that Lorde is having raging emotions, lots of bad (wicked) thoughts, and other wild tempers associated with growing up or being a teenager.
- Informal Speech / Slang: To “f***” with something means to experience it or have experience with it. “—Do you know how to bake? —Yeah, I f*** with it.” This is obviously very vulgar and would only be used in situations where other people are openly cursing, so be careful! A cleaner way to say this is “mess with” or “get down with.” “I mess with it. I get down with it.” By “known,” she means “well-known,” as in when she becomes famous.
- Informal Speech: To “trip up” can have a few different meanings. It can be to confuse, to baffle (shock), surprise, or even to make someone laugh. All of the meanings and more are likely in this context. By “heads,” she’s probably referring to their ideas, opinions, senses of humor, and so on.
- Spelling Standards: Both “all right” and “alright” are accepted spellings.
- Idioms / Expressions: “It’s half of the trip” is similar to the expression “it’s part of the fun.” This is usually said to make light of a bad situation, like getting lost on a road trip. “But getting lost is half of the trip!” In the lyric, Lorde could be referring to an embarrassing photo that got leaked online, and she (or someone else) got caught.
- Figurative Speech: This seems like an invitation for us to watch her struggles and fiascos on our glass screens (TV, cell phone, etc.) as if we were Lorde’s nosey neighbors watching through our glass “windows.”
Then it repeats.