Lorde brings her teenage revolution

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The first time I heard Lorde, I was confused about what to think. Her current hit “Royals” came on the radio and at the time I had only heard it once before. My boyfriend asked me, “what is this?” I have no idea. And I didn’t have an idea of what to call it … her.

Screen shot from YouTube video from Lorde’s performance on Live on Letterman
Screen shot from YouTube video from Lorde’s performance on Live on Letterman

Didn’t know of a name and couldn’t think of a genre to put her in. But one thing I did notice was her voice. It was quietly powerful and captivating. Lorde’s voice is beautiful and slightly slurred, which I began to realize worked really well for the sound she was trying to create. It was original; that’s why we couldn’t figure out who or what she sounded like. I spent the following days looking up her YouTube videos pretty much nonstop; any free moment I had on a computer or my phone was spent watching her videos, listening to her interviews, learning her story. After overplaying her on Spotify and YouTube I was so curious about her story, especially after finding out she was only 16-years-old.

Lorde, originally Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor, hails from New Zealand, which wasn’t a huge surprise. Though New Zealand isn’t in Europe, her music definitely has a kind of European, electronic feel. She didn’t listen to this type of music when she grew up exactly. Her parents were driven more toward performers like Cat Stevens, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac, Lorde stating “Rumors” to be a perfect record. It wasn’t until later on, which for her was about 12 or 13-years old, she started listening to Magical Clouds and Yeasayer. Lorde has stated that listening to Yeasayer was life-changing for her. I hear styles similar to Imogen Heap and Lana Del Rey with the lyricism and heavy rhythms.

As a fellow singer/song-writer, I’m amazed by her lyrical skills more than anything. I mean, at 16-years old I was barely aware that I wanted to be a writer. Before songwriting, Lorde was writing short stories and novels, at a mere 12-years-old. She liked writing because it was a place where she could hide, a very private place. “The only difference is now people look in on this thing I do and want to know my name,” she states in a recent YouTube interview.

Lorde on Ellen — screen shot from Youtube video
Lorde on Ellen — screen shot from Youtube video

She also mentions how she was never one of those girls to sing into a hairbrush; her craft was meant to be quiet, but fortunately for all of us, she had too big of a voice and much to say. It took her a few years to really hone her skill in songwriting, but because of being such a strong writer at such a young age, she progressed quickly.

In one particular interview, Lorde talks about her obsession with history that she’s always had, hence the stage-name choice, Lorde. After hearing this, you can’t help but listen to her music with a different ear, understanding her words in a more truthful way. I was actually disappointed in myself that I didn’t pick up on the connections sooner.

There is also her hit appropriately titled, “Royals.” What is pretty ironic is the lyrics in that song are so clearly against being famous and the contentment of having a normal, ordinary life, but this song led to her inevitable fame.

Lorde from Live on Letterman — screen shot from Youtube video
Lorde from Live on Letterman — screen shot from Youtube video

She doesn’t consider herself a “white teeth teen” but she’s slowly making her way into the Hollywood scene, recently befriending the very popular Taylor Swift.

She has quickly become one of my favorite artists, which seems to be happening with most of the country as well. It’s a mixture of her pure talent and timing that’s leading her rise of fame.

An article was recently published in NPR comparing Lorde to Nirvana, not in their styles of music, but how they are entering the scene.

At their current times, the public was craving whatever it was they were creating: in Nirvana’s case, a type of rebellion, and perhaps in Lorde’s case, more of a revolution, a new way of thinking. She speaks out openly about how our society creates a type of image that is hard to live up to and is determined to stay true to who she is because of this. At 16 years old, to have such a strong sense of self is another reason why she is a great artist.

Musicians from all different genres are coming out and supporting her music – the message she’s trying to spread. Many are impressed by her age and the absolute realness she brings to everything she does.

Lorde is undoubtedly wise beyond her years, but still unaware of things and curious about the world, like the teenager she still is. This is evident in her music and Lorde admits that it’s the driving force when writing lyrics. On writing lyrics in particular, Lorde said in a recent YouTube interview, “I write about my friends and my life, a lot. The strange, social situations and kind of the uneasiness of being my age…there’s a lot of me thinking about loneliness and fake friends and real friends.”

Screen shot from YouTube video
Screen shot from YouTube video

Her lyrics are still so innocent, but insightful, and almost every single song produces a strong sense of imagery. Fantasy and reality come together in her music in a way that’s new and good for the current scene.

Lorde’s debut album, “Pure Heroine” was released in September 2013 and received major acclaim almost immediately. The album is currently nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the Annual Grammy Awards this month, January 2014. She is also set to be performing in the renowned Coachella Festival this year, alongside popular artists such as Lana Del Rey, Muse, Skrillex, OutKast, and Ellie Goulding.

We should be expecting some great things from Lorde this year as she makes her way into the music scene.

Lorde on Ellen singing “Royals.”