In the music video for Lorde’s new single “Solar Power,” the New Zealand singer-songwriter is seen in a bikini, basking in the sun while singing and dancing. In keeping with the beach theme, the song’s cover art shows a worm’s-eye view of her taking a leap, sunlight peeking through from behind.
Here’s how it looks for many people on Spotify.
However, music app users in several countries including China and Japan have noticed a, well, glaring difference in the cover art.
On China’s top music streaming platforms like NetEase Cloud Music and QQ Music, the cover art for “Solar Power” obscures Lorde’s butt with what appears to be sunlight.
Content related to pornography, including sexual innuendos, are frequent subjects of media censorship in China, and this sometimes includes anything content authorities deem overly sexual or explicit.
Spotify is not available in mainland China but users in Hong Kong are directed to a web page that features the obscured version.
VICE found that the obscured version of the “Solar Power” cover art is also shown to Spotify users in Japan. Meanwhile, those in other parts of the world—including the United States, South Africa, Egypt, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and India—see Lorde’s full bottom in the cover art.
Spotify representatives in Singapore did not immediately respond to VICE’s email enquiries about the two versions of the “Solar Power” cover art.
The presence of two different versions for different music markets seems to be the case for the Apple Music too, with the obscured cover art appearing for users in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Apple did not respond immediately to email and phone requests for comment.
Universal Music New Zealand, the record label for Lorde’s music, also did not respond immediately to enquiries about the cover art.
At the moment, it’s unclear where the two versions of the cover art came from.
On Chinese microblogging site Weibo, social media users are viewing the edited image of Lorde’s cover art with resignation and sarcastic humor, poking fun at yet another instance of China’s censorship.
“Here’s China’s publicity slogan for Lorde’s new single: Righteous light shines over the land,” wrote one Weibo user, ending their comment with an emoji of the Chinese flag.
“The [cover art] on NetEase Cloud Music has holy light,” wrote another.
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