While Lorde wasn't technically making her SNL debut – in November 2015, she performed Disclosure's "Magnets" alongside the British dance duo for their musical guest spot – Saturday's episode also marked her first appearance as SNL headliner.
The singer opened things up with the spirited "Green Light," the first single off the June 16th-bound Melodrama, with Lorde – bathed in red light – backed by a group that included a trio of young singers.
For her second performance of the night, Lorde scaled things back for "Liability," her just-released ballad. Donning a wedding dress and sitting back-to-back on a bench with her pianist, the singer delivered a sparse, understated rendition of the track.
In addition to her musical performances, Lorde also popped up in the closing seconds of SNL's "A Sketch for the Women," where Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney hijack her rendition of "Royals".
In an interview with Zane Lowe, Lorde revealed that she was inspired to pen the song after hearing Rihanna's "Higher" while in a cab; the track opens with the lyric, "Baby really hurt me / Crying in a taxi."
"I had a little cry 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,'" Lorde told Lowe. "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."
SNL: Lorde performs 'Green Light' and 'Liability' for the first time live
Lorde performed new songs “Green Light” and “Liability” for the first time live when she returned to Saturday Night Live as the musical guest this weekend.
The New Zealand singer started off with “Green Light,” a single EW’s Nolan Feeney previously described as “the most explosive and epic thing Lorde has done” in his A review of the track, which she debuted March 3. That held true during her lively performance, featuring her delightfully wacky dance moves.
She later sat down to sing “Liability,” a track released this week, with co-producer and Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff at the piano. This time, no dance moves were to be found. Instead, she donned a bridal-inspired white outfit — veil included — and crooned the melancholy ballad on the piano bench with her back to Antonoff.
“Green Light” and “Liability” are the first tracks off Lorde’s forthcoming Melodrama, out June 16. Her last album was 2013’s critically acclaimed Pure Heroine, a debut that included singles “Royals,” “Tennis Court,” and “Team.”
“Writing Pure Heroine was my way of enshrining our teenage glory, putting it up in lights forever so that part of me never dies,” she wrote in a note posted this past November, “and this record — well, this one is about what comes next.”
Aside from Pure Heroine, Lorde recorded The Hunger Games‘ “Yellow Flicker Beat” in 2014 and contributed vocals to Disclosure’s 2015 hit “Magnets.” Watch her SNL performances above.