When I picked up this book, my first thought was, "Is this white woman going to understand what it's like to be a person of color in this country?"
Wait, so we’re all listening to Lorde, right?
If not, let me catch you up.
Lorde’s debut single “Royals” washed up stateside this spring, and from then on, the buzz surrounding her has been growing, fast (click that link if you don't know the song. That song is better than this article). "Royals" begins with her husky voice against a silent backdrop, then punctuated by a thumping bass drum and staccato finger snaps. By the time you reach the rolling pre-chorus and that soaring chorus, you are hypnotized.
Her lyrics are a smirking, slap in the face response to everything that’s dominated the radio for so long. All of the anthems of overhyped luxury about rappers and pop stars blowing their first advances on cars, liquor, and diamonds that all of us are supposed to be buying into, even though most of us are working entry level jobs and struggling to pay rent.
Lorde called it right out:
“But every song’s like 'gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom, blood stains, ball gowns, trashing the hotel room…'” giving way to “And we’ll never be royals.”
Whoa. It was like an anthem for the millennials. Why hadn’t any of us thought to write it yet?
The kicker? She’s only sixteen.
So, ladies and gentlemen, we have a prodigy on our hands.
Lorde’s “The Love Club EP” dropped at the beginning of March and quickly gained notoriety, followed by her “Tennis Court” single, which includes one other track, which is one of my favorites, a ballad called “Swingin’ Party.”
So go download all of that now.
Yesterday, she dropped a new single, “Team,” off of her first album “Pure Heroine” due out later this month.
It starts off once again with just Lorde’s mesmerizing, layered vocals, followed quickly by the snare of a drum machine and an ambient synth, before launching into hauntingly saccharine chorus. While it’s still as mysterious as her former work, it’s a little bit more ready for radio. Perfectly produced, while seeming just a touch unfinished. It leaves you thirsting for more. It’s a total earworm, and at just three minutes and nine seconds, once you’ve surrendered yourself completely to the mellow, hopeful bounce of the track, it stops. And you’re forced to hit repeat.
What I like most about this song is, just like in Royals and many of her other songs thus far in her short career, she trades in themes of cash for camaraderie, with lines like: “We live in cities you’ll never see on tv…and you know, we’re on each other’s team.”
And even better:
“I’m kinda over getting told to throw my hands up in the air, so there.”
Take that, Tiao Cruz.
Lorde is the first woman in 17 years to top the alternative charts, the last being Tracy Bonham with "Mother Mother" in 1996, and it’s easy to see why. In May, Lorde was moving a little more than 1,000 copies of “Royals” per week. By September, it was over 160,000 per week. As I write this, it’s sitting pretty at #3 on the iTunes charts (“Applause” by Lady Gaga is at #5…)
But age and lyrical content aside, numbers like this are atypical for anyone, especially on their debut. Especially when they’re averse to doing the sort of promo that is expected of a new artist, in hopes of letting the music speak for itself.
“In a perfect world, I would never do any interviews…and probably there would be one photo out there of me, and that would be it," she told Billboard.
We live in a world where most new, young, successful artists have been developed by the Disney Channel or some other similar entity for years, and I’m not complaining! Hell, I’ve written about both Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus here on xoJane, for better for worse. And it’s true that while Lorde had been in development with Universal since she was 12 (which was like…a couple of years ago. I was already out of college. Oh my god.) she’s still the only one of the only people her age writing her own material, let alone, material that good.
I think it’s just worth noting, if for nothing else but my own satisfaction, that labels are still churning out 20-year-old women and blatantly marketing them as modern day Lolitas and/or vixens, relying more on headlines to sell records than they are natural talent. And that's fine, bring on the sex! I love a pop star no matter how it's sold to me. Yet here we have a young woman so talented that she’s pulling focus away from all of them, with the music as the sole focus. Maybe sex doesn’t sell as well in 2013 after all.
Lorde's debut album "Pure Heroine" is out September 30th.
Okay, so did you know about Lorde? If you didn't, are you LOVING her now? I bet you are. If you did, what's your favorite Lorde song? Mine are, in no particular order, "Swingin' Party," "Bravado," "Love Club," and now "TEAM."
After all this, Tynan is eagerly awaiting the new single from Britney Spears coming this Monday, and talking about it on Twitter @TynanBuck.