As reported by Deadline, Lorde has been forced to cancel her planned performance at next weekend’s MTV Video Music Awards, with the official VMAs Twitter account citing “a change in production elements.” The tweet went on to say, “we love Lorde and cannot wait for her to perform on the VMA stage in the future,” which is nice, but it doesn’t really explain what happened. A “change in production elements” could mean any number of things, but the amount of things it could mean that would necessitate Lorde dropping out of the show—where her video for “Solar Power” is nominated for Best Cinematography—seems like a shorter list. After all, she’s not just doing something other than what she originally planned, she’s not going at all. Maybe she intended to do some remote thing that isn’t going to work out, tech-wise? Maybe the “change in production” is something boring, like scheduling? Maybe it means someone producing the show changed, and Lorde… doesn’t like them?
One thing that seems like a possible theory is COVID, since “change in production” is a good artful euphemism for the Pressing Issue of our times, but we know that getting sick has never sidelined Lorde in the past. In fact, Deadline points out that her performance at the VMAs in 2017 was replaced with an interpretive dance routine after she came down with the flu. Rather than singing, she danced onstage while her song played in the background, confusing viewers at home and once again raising the annual possibility that the MTV VMAs are largely a complete waste of everyone’s time. (Lorde theorized at the time that people were uncomfortable with her dance because “it’s so private seeing someone experience such joy publicly.”) Then again, the fact that that was so controversial might have convinced her to not do it again, so maybe she figured it would be easier to just not do anything than try and do something clever. Whatever the reason, we’ll surely never know.