Writing and Composition
"Liability" was written and produced by Lorde and Jack Antonoff in Antonoff's apartment with the rest of the album over an 18-month period. The song has been described as a piano ballad.
Lorde revealed to a crowd at a secret iHeartRadio concert she held in Los Angeles that "Liability" was inspired after a night she became "so overcome with anger and emotion". She walked about three to four miles, before getting an Uber to take her home. About this, she said
"I was in this cab alone listening to “Higher” by Rihanna because Anti had just come out, and 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.' 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.
She later said on an exclusive Spinoff podcast that
“I’m so aware of the thoughts that are so potent in a moment and then, in the light of day, you’re like, ‘Alright, I was being a bit of a drama queen there, but it’s all good, I’m over it.’ But I went and immortalised it and now everyone who talks to be about that song gives me this look like I’m dying of a terminal disease … but I think that is the nature of writing a record called Melodrama.”
About writing the song, she revealed:
“I started crying … and I was crying because I was feeling this very specific feeling of being too much for somebody, It felt like no one could ever love me for all that I am because I’m a lot; I feel everything so deeply. Ever since I wrote the song, I’ve felt such a suit of armor — there’s a force field between me and that feeling. It’s like writing that song helped me celebrate being too much. If you listen to my music, there’s probably moments where you feel like you’re a little much. Maybe you’re an intense person. Maybe you walk into a room and you bring a lot with you swirling around. But I want you to know you are not too much. You are perfect.”Lorde revealed that she rejected the song after first writing it. "Liability" was originally intended to be a rap skit. She said she wanted to find a "fancy sound designer" to put the listener in a party. In there, she wanted to evoke the feeling of her walking away from said party down a hall, find a room, shut the door and then deliver a verse and chorus of the song. She also intended to have dialogue within "Liability", with someone calling her name and Lorde walking out of the room as the listener stays inside waiting for the next song to play. She contemplated changing the framing of the track but refrained from doing so. She also recalled spending a couple of days in Waiheke to write this song.
She announced the album release date, June 16th, on Twitter while releasing Liability.
The song has been critically praised. Graeme Tuckett, writing for Stuff New Zealand, said that "Liability is a break-up confessional, a diary entry of a song. It reads raw, stripped back, nicely under-produced – just a ballad-ish piano to accompany Lorde's voice this time – and particularly well sung."
The song debuted at number 78 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Usage in Media
The song is heard in the television series Quantico.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Lorde Releases New Song 'Liability'" - Billboard.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 The Spinoff Exclusive: Lorde explains the backstory behind every song on her new album - The Spinoff