Words About Music
Lorde “Pure Heroine”
I honestly have no idea how Ella Yelich-O’Connor became so popular so quickly. It doesn’t make much sense that a 16-year old girl from New Zealand would have one of the biggest pop hits in recent memory that isn’t really terrible. But here we are, less than a year after “Royals” was first heard on Ella’s 2012 EP “The Love Club.” “Royals” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, thus making Lorde the first New Zealand artist to have a number one song in the United States. Let’s just say that if “Flight Of The Conchords” was still on the air then there would probably be Lorde posters all over Murray’s office, next to the posters of the toothbrush fence and Lord of the Rings scenes.
Lorde was first discovered at the age of 12 when an A&R scout saw a video of her performing at her school talent show. She was signed to Universal at the age of 13 and started writing songs with her guitar. Now she’s been basically thrown into the spotlight overnight, and everyone seems okay with that. While “Royals” is a great song and incredibly promising, she was able to make it seem like one of 10 great and promising songs with her debut album “Pure Heroine.”
“Pure Heroine” is a surprisingly great and original album that is instrumentally basic and lets Lorde’s incredible vocal abilities take the main spot. While a lot of pop music seems to deal with EDM influences—including trap and dubstep—and even sometimes indie-influenced live instrumentation, “Pure Heroine” is pure minimalism. A soft bass drum, some pulsating synths in the background, and layered vocals make “Pure Heroine” fascinating, consistent, and give it quite the replay value. Pop music is definitely not a genre that always has staying power, especially in a year with strong albums from Charli XCX and Janelle Monáe, as well as some strong singles from Haim and Miley Cyrus. Lorde is definitely a shining star in a world of diamonds, and her age is merely an additional factor instead of a reason.
Another instantly noticeable quality is Lorde’s lyrics, all of which she wrote herself. That alone is quite an anomaly in pop music that can really make or break an artist. Her lyrics are surprisingly mature, and she even sings about her fear of getting old, which is obviously ironic considering her young age. She also sings about having to adjust to this new overnight fame she’s achieved, her distaste with a lot of pop music’s similar lyrical themes of vanity, and trying to maintain friendly relationships with the people she’s grown up with. She’s also noticeably not trying to represent New Zealand. Her voice is distinctly American sounding and she even says on “Royals” that she’s not necessarily ashamed of her torn-up town, but she also doesn’t have any “post code envy.” She’s merely content with her childhood environment, but isn’t trying to be an ambassador.
While Lorde is showing quite a bit of promise towards the end of the first full year of her musical career, one wonders what the future holds for her. We’ve seen what has happened to young artists like Chief Keef, Justin Bieber, and Britney Spears. As smart as she seems to be, she’s not necessarily immune to the oncoming pressures that can drive a young person to the edge. Negative rumors are already circulating in regards to Lorde’s attitude and behavior, but thankfully her music doesn’t seem to reflect that. Let’s just hope ego doesn’t have a negative correlation with success in this case, because Lorde is incredibly talented vocally, musically, and lyrically, and I’d hate to see something terrible happen to someone with so much promise. Until then, “Royals” will be stuck in my head, and “Pure Heroine” will still be one of the best pop albums of the year.
SCORE – 8.6
FAVORITE TRACKS – Tennis Court, 400 Lux, Royals, Ribs, Team, Glory and Gore, White Teeth Teens, A World Alone