Once in a great while, a singer comes along and takes the world by storm. Sometimes they’re called a one-hit wonder, as might be the case with last year’s Gotye. Other times, they’re just what the music industry needs to shake things up.
This time, it’s a 16-year-old girl called Lorde from New Zealand who has everybody talking.
Born Ella Yelich-O’Connor, Lorde is on fire right now with “Royals.” She jumped over Katy Perry’s “Roar” to knock Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” out of the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100. That alone is worth talking points, but Lorde isn’t stopping there. She’s also giving Justin Timberlake a run for his money as her debut album, “Pure Heroine,” is selling toe-to-toe with Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience: Part Two.” That’s what I call shaking things up.
Not to mention, “Royals” became the biggest No. 1 song by a female artist on the Alternative chart in history, dethroning Alanis Morrissette’s “You Oughta Know” from 1996. That’s funny, too, because Alanis was one of those artists who came along and shook things up, too.
I was absolutely pulled into “Royals” the first time I heard it. The hypnotic music and poetic lyricism are ear candy from the start, but her almost haunting vocal delivery is simply magnificent. Learning she’s only 16 blows my mind. This girl is so talented.
In learning about “Royals,” I found that Lorde wrote the song when she was only 14.
This girl is a true artist in every sense of the word. Take apart the lyrics of “Royals” and see for yourself. It’s a song about growing up on the other side of the tracks and never feeling like you’re going to live the good life — and almost accepting your fate.
Check out the opening lyrics: “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 post code envy.”
She goes on to sing about the life she’ll never know trashin’ hotel rooms, but that she and her friends are driving Cadillacs in their dreams. Love it!
Gotye’s “Someone That I used To Know” had this appeal, but his album failed in comparison to the massive hit he had. I don’t foresee that with Lorde’s “Pure Heroine.” The album contains 10 stellar tracks worthy of repeated listens, which is exactly what I’ve done since I got my hands on it.
The melodic journey is continued on the tracks’ “Tennis Court,” “Buzzcut Season,” and “Team,” but don’t go thinking this is candy pop. It’s not. Lorde is brilliant at capturing complexities of teenage life in a grown-up, intellectual way. It’s almost spellbinding. “Ribs” is fantastic, while “A World Alone” showcases the depth of her star already.
David T. Farr is a Sturgis (Mich.) Journal correspondent. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find The Farr Side on Facebook.