I first stumbled across Lorde during my usual peruse of (possibly the greatest music website on the internet) Hype Machine, about a month prior to Royals blowing up on the US & UK charts. The first song I heard was Team – from the gorgeous looping and layering of those haunting opening vocals, to the repetitive drums and simplistic but poignant lyrics – I was hooked. I instantly added it to my favourite songs list without so much as a second thought. However, unlike most artists I discover through the site, I started to hear her name again and again. I hadn’t even heard Royals until I saw it performed live on Later… With Jools Holland. The performance rang with elegance and weirdness; Bjork meets Kate Bush – THAT kind of awesome. To be able to perform comfortably on a line up which boasted Kanye West and Kings of Leon, she was the dirty diamond which stole the show, and I knew my love affair with Lorde’s music had begun and there was nothing I could do about it.
The rest of this post is going to be entirely biased because I can’t find any reason to dislike her – and I clearly am not the only one. Alexa Chung jokingly referred to her as the second coming of Christ, and her humble teenage awkwardness makes her likability factor skyrocket among young girls and adults alike. Having said this, it is clear Lorde (real name Ella) has been very, very smart in getting to where she has. To literally overtake the entire Billboard 100 with your first single is commendable, but to do it as a (seemingly) unmanufactured sixteen year from New Zealand? Well that seems boarder line impossible, and it’s clear she has been receiving a backlash from other emerging artists due to her lack of struggle that most young acts have to endue. She has also been accused of being racist, due to Royals referring to gold teeth, cadillac’s, and diamond watches as stereotypical of black wealth and hip hop culture. The whole issue seems stem from how the media is portraying the song, labelling it a “mass rejection of wealth culture” than the song itself. It’s unfair to label Lorde racist for pointing out aspects of wealth (from gold teeth to ball gowns) and labelling it racism.
I am also convinced her age has been an integral factor to her success. I still cannot get over the fact that at sixteen she has more self-awareness than I think I do now; I mean when I was sixteen my musical prowess extended to covering Stand By Me with a cowbell and a maraca to achieve a well earned B in music. The only other artist in recent years I can think of who has achieved that much independent success was Birdy, but even Birdy only really broke through with a cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love. Lorde, as far as Wikipedia has had me believe, was picked by a music scout Scott Maclachlan at thirteen, signed at fourteen, and the rest is history. Whatever Maclachlan saw in her has clearly paid off, as she is (as far as we’re lead to believe) undeniably talented.
I really, really, really hope that it’s all as organic as it is presented to be; especially right now with the amount of pure shite that hovers around the Top 40 (Can anyone say The Fox?) I also hope that she is not used as an antithesis to the Miley Cyrus vs. The World media shit storm that is currently waging over how female musicians should present themselves. Having said that it is obviously already happening, and has done wonders for her burgeoning iconography as a teenage misfit, even one of the tracks from Pure Heroine (White Teeth Teens) goes to far to make that blatantly obvious. It is important to point out that both Lorde and Miley are two entirely different musicians and shouldn’t be pitted against each other in the way female musicians always are in mainstream media.
You only have to watch the hauntingly simple video for Tennis Court (above) to see that she is undeniably talented, and definitely has a long and illustrious career in front of her. Pure Heroine, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. Songs like Ribs and 400 Lux capture teenage passion and confusion like nothing else I have heard in a while and is completely relatable in every way. It’s refreshing to see such simple, raw talent rise so high literally out of nowhere, and it makes me super excited to see her talent grow and evolve over the next few years; with or without a wrecking ball.