Liability

Album: Melodrama (2017)
Charted: 78

Songfacts®:

  • With only Lorde's vocals and a piano forming the entire track, this mournful ballad finds the singer musing over why her relationships don't last:

    So they pull back, make other plans
    I understand, I'm a liability
    Get you wild, make you leave
    I'm a little much for ev
    Everyone


    Adele proved that a good heartbreak ballad with just voice and piano could be a winner on her 2011 track "Someone Like You."
  • Speaking with Zane Lowe on Beats 1, Lorde said: "I love the song so much and it feels so starkly truthful to me. And I think everyone knows what that's like, to just feel like a f---ing liability."

    "I'm really proud of this bit of songwriting," she continued. "I feel like I got somewhere they hadn't been before, which is always a nice feeling as a songwriter. It's interesting because I had this realization that because of my lifestyle and what I do for work there's going to be a point with every single person around me where I'm gonna be attacks on them in some way. If it is having to give up a little portion of their privacy or their life becoming more difficult or whatever. It was just this moment of sadness and I remember it so vividly."
  • The raw song was influenced by Rihanna's Anti track "Higher." Lorde explained: "I had a little cry [listening to it] and I was just like, 'It's always going to be this way, at some point with everyone it's going to be this way.' But the song kind of ended up turning into a bit of a protective talismans for me. I was like, you know what, I'm always gonna have myself so I have to really nurture this relationship and feel good about hanging out with myself and loving myself. And the tone of the melody, the way it kind of falls around, it's almost like it's kind of drunk or it sort of leans around, it's got this hip-hop cadence to it."
  • Lorde told Radio.com how she felt liberated after writing the song. "'Liability' is a funny one," she said. "It felt so amazing, writing it. It really felt like… it was so cathartic, like, 'This is somewhere that we haven't been.' To me, it's so quintessentially what I think of when I think of melodrama, just wallowing in this feeling. 'No one could have ever felt the way I'm feeling right now.' It's very indicative of the theme of the record. But I think everyone has those moments of feeling like, 'Have I just punished everyone around me?' or, 'Am I just a massive tax [on everyone]?" It felt nice to get it out."
  • Like Melodrama's lead single, "Green Light," this song deals with the aftermath of a breakup. "People forget that breakups are so complex," Lorde said. "You can feel love for that person while hating them more than you've ever hated any person. I wanted to express all the sides of how that feels in the song. And when I think about the song, we just stuffed everything we could into it. I'm really proud of it. I'm proud of how complex it is."
  • The song was produced by Fun. and Bleachers alum Jack Antonoff. Lorde tweeted: "I remember being in a big beautiful verdant studio in la with jack and those falling chords sounding like the music i grew up on."
  • This was one of the first songs that Lorde wrote with Jack Antonoff. "That was very important," Antonoff told Rolling Stone. "It opened up a big space, which was 'OK, there's a way that you can talk about all of these things that have changed, and it's not going to put you on an island.' Everyone feels like a liability to their friends and family sometimes."
  • Asked by NME what her favorite lyric is on Melodrama, Lorde replied:

    "I'm really proud of the little moment in 'Liability': 'I know that it's exciting. Running through the night. But, every perfect summer's. Eating me alive until you're gone!' That little 'every perfect summer's eating me alive' was really one of the pillars of the record, and I was super stoked with it. It's got a lot to it for six words."
  • This was covered by Tove Stryke on her 2018 Sway album. The Norwegian singer-songwriter was familiar with the track having opened for Lorde during her Melodrama World Tour. Stryke told Billboard:

    "That song is just one of the songs that really stood out to me the past couple years. The first time I heard it, my reaction to it was like, 'How did I not write this?' Because it feels like me. It's like, I've lived this. These are my feelings. How did somebody else write this down? It's so spot on."

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