So, 17-year-0ld New Zealander Lorde, born Ella Maria Lani Yelick-O-Connor, is hitting the music charts after her Grammy wins this year with “Song of the Year” and “Best Pop Solo Performance” for “Royals”, which she claims shows the feeling her generation has about life, that “our lives are super mundane and we’re basically in this transition period waiting for something to happen to us.” Wow. Super-mundane? Having a mom as a poet? Waiting for something to happen to us? Writing short stories and then songs and then becoming a huge hit in her homeland before conquering the UK and cracking the US?
Lorde says she’s always written, mostly short stories before she began writing songs, and her influences are as literary — T.S. Eliot, Raymond Chandler, Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath — as musical — Drake, Kanye West, James Blake, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Etta James, and Otis Redding. “I’ve always been a big reader,” says Lorde. “My mum’s a poet and we’ve always had so many books, and that’s always been a big thing for me, arguably more so than music.” Her short video, Becoming Lorde, is poetic in itself.
Though lots of people like to trash her on YouTube’s Comments, I find her music haunting, with intelligent, sardonic lyrics. Not like some of the music or books coming out these days. You can tell that this artist actually reads good literature, then writes some coolio music.
In some videos, she doesn’t even sing, which is really unusual for generations of MTV viewers who are used to seeing the musicians play or, at the very least, sing, in their videos. The UK version of “Royals,” for which she won awards, apparently doesn’t show her singing, as this US version of “Royals” does. I guess someone thought the US would want less storytelling and more of her face, I don’t know.
I just know that I found her totally accidentally, roaming around the YouTube listening to music, especially to artists I’d never heard before, and I liked her lyrics from this song so much, I listened to more of her album.
I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh
I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies
And I’m not proud of my address,
In a torn-up town, no postcode envy
But every song’s like “gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room.”
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody’s like “Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.”
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair.
And we’ll never be royals (royals).
It don’t run in our blood,
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
Let me be your ruler (ruler),
You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.
My friends and I—we’ve cracked the code.
We count our dollars on the train to the party.
And everyone who knows us knows that we’re fine with this,
We didn’t come from money.
Her video for “Tennis Court” doesn’t show her actually singing, but it doesn’t tell a story either: she lets her lyrics do that.
I liked the samples I heard from her album Pure Heroine, and love the album. It’s ambitious and dangerous, it’s almost a cappella with a serious bass. I like it. “Funky with a totally intellectual attitude” doesn’t begin to describe it.
No, Lorde doesn’t strike me at all as the type that would have been singing into a hairbrush in front of a mirror when she was a young girl.
What a relief.