Lorde: High Schooler by Day, Pop Star by Night

Caroline Cafasso

If you’re reading this, chances are you are a student between the ages of 14 – 18. You probably have homework, chores, and a set of goals you hope to accomplish some time later in adulthood. Sounds accurate, right? Well, imagine being 16 going on 17 and having the number one song and album in the country. Currently, that is the life of Lorde, the newest hit sensation in the music industry.

Ella Yelich-O’Connor, the girl behind the regal stage name, is a New Zealand high school student and the voice of the number song “Royals,” the unique but catchy tune that has taken over radio stations for the past few weeks. Her first album, Pure Heroine, took the number one spot in Australia and New Zealand, and nagged the top position on the iTunes album chart after being released on September 27.

Lorde is in her last year of school and has already accomplished more in the year 2013 alone than most 16 year olds can say they have in their entire lives. Premature success is nothing new to her; she signed a record deal with Universal when she was only 13 after being scouted from a video of her a school talent show.

Perhaps her likeability comes from her music, which, despite being classified as “pop,” is nothing like the bubblegum blasts of pulsing beats and hollow lyrics that today’s youth drinks up without a second thought. More along the lines of indie pop, Lorde is a minimalist who says that she has “always been a big fan of simplicity and of cleanliness” in the video interview above. This personal style is clearly showcased in Pure Heroine with the songs’ lyrics acting as the star against the light, haunting music. Even the album art only states her name and the record’s in white font against a black backdrop. “Sonically,” she continues. “My music is quite sparse because for me, songwriting is about saying something, and the music is more framework for that.”

Lorde’s poetic lyrics are refreshing and relatable compared to most pop singers of the now who, as described in her own song “Royals,” only seem to sing about partying. With an impressive range, her voice can be both angelic and raspy. The supporting music is purposeful and well produced, and unlike her fellow artists, it’s not an overwrought whirlpool of meaningless rhythms.

The lyrics of “Royals” highlight that Lorde is more similar to the average teenager than the majority of people in the industry. She had a normal upbringing and continues to live a fairly typical life, but soon that may all change. Fans of irony would rejoice if she were to become just like the kids she sings about who live lives of “jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.” But, Lorde’s minimalist music taste seems to transcend into other areas, for she says that she maintains a levelheaded attitude in how “[she] conducts [herself] online” and prefers the “relaxed” New Zealand lifestyle she grew up with.

We’ve seen what fame can do to talented artists once they’ve become pawns of the music industry (ahem, Miley Cyrus…). It could be naive and hopeful to think that she’s different, but Lorde seems like she could avoid the fates of the tragic heroes who came before her. Her focus of songwriting and simplicity could have two outcomes: either she fades away within a matter of months, or she ignites a revolution. As of now, all there is to know is that she has all the potential in the world. Lorde is a name you won’t want to forget.

The best of Pure Heroine:

Thoughts on Lorde?


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