“Tennis Court” by Lorde – Lyrics for English Students

album cover to Pure Heroine by Lorde with a picture of Lorde performing, the album is home to the song Tennis Court
The New Zealand national flag, home country of singer Lorde who sings the lyrics to Tennis Court
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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

Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk?

Making smart with their words again, well, I’m bored

  • Expressions: “Making smart” here could mean that they are trying to sound smart or be clever. Apparently, Lorde finds these conversations boring.

Because I’m doing this for the thrill of it, killin’ it

  • 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.

Never not chasin’ a million things I want

  • 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 …”

And I am only as young as the minute is, full of it

  • 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.

Getting pumped up on the little bright things I bought

  • Expressions / Slang: To get “pumped up” is to feel good or excited about something, usually because it makes you happy.

But I know they’ll never own me (Yeah)

Baby, be the class clown

  • 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.

I’ll be the beauty queen in tears

  • Vocabulary: “In tears” is another way to say “crying.” Add that one to your vocab list!

It’s a new art form

Showing people how little we care (Yeah)

We’re so happy

Even when we’re smilin’ out of fear

Let’s go down to the tennis court

And talk it up like, “Yeah” (Yeah)

  • 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.

Pretty soon, I’ll be getting on my first plane

  • 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.

I’ll see the veins of my city like they do in space

But my head’s fillin’ up fast with the wicked games, up in flames

  • 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.

How can I f*** with the fun again when I’m known?

  • 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.

And my boys trip me up with their heads again, lovin’ them

  • 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.

Everything’s cool when we’re all in line for the throne

But I know it’s not forever (Yeah)

Baby, be the class clown

I’ll be the beauty queen in tears

It’s a new art form

Showing people how little we care (Yeah)

We’re so happy

Even when we’re smilin’ out of fear

Let’s go down to the tennis court

And talk it up like, “Yeah” (Yeah)

It looked all right in the pictures (Yeah)

  • Spelling Standards: Both “all right” and “alright” are accepted spellings.

Getting caught’s half of the trip though, isn’t it? (Yeah)

  • 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.

I’ll fall apart, with all my heart (Yeah)

And you can watch from your window (Yeah)

  • 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.”

And you can watch from your window

Then it repeats.

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