By Brent Glass (@BrentAMG)
Lorde has got it goin’ on. That was my first thought after listening to the entirety of Pure Heroine. (It also reminded me of this great video.) There has been much hype surrounding the New Zealand-native in the past few months. At the ripe age of sixteen, Lorde has already had an intimate brush with success that most musicians can only dream about. In fact, a female singer/ musician has not had so much success on the debut Billboard chart since M.I.A. released “Paper Planes” in 2007. Not only has Lorde been a break through female artist, she is also the first solo artist from New Zealand to have a number one song in the United States. Inundated by the limelight, Lorde has remained a mysterious individual.
One thing is certain: Lorde is cool. I contemplated using another word to describe her aura but “cool” seems to encapsulate her entire persona. There are mature teenagers and then there is Ella Yelich-O’Connor (her actual name). I was duly impressed upon watching multiple interviews with the burgeoning artist. There are a few aspects of Ella that should stick out to anyone that knows of her young age: She has an extremely rich vocabulary and a refined calmness about her. Despite her youth, it is obvious she feels comfortable with those interviewing her. She is extremely self-aware and this often peers through in her music.
At the end of 2012 Lorde released her first EP, The Love Club. The EP included the tracks “Bravado,” “Million Dollar Bills,” “The Love Club,” “Biting Down,” and her international-hit “Royals.” Most recently, Lorde released Pure Heroine at the end of September. Again “Royals” was featured, along with nine songs not previously released. Her music drew heavily from electropop and American pop artists such as Nicki Minaj, whom Lorde said is an “important female in pop.” She also admires Kanye West and even performed one of his new songs, “Hold My Liquor,” in Auckland, New Zealand this past month. Drawing from her influences, and utilizing her unmistakable voice, Lorde created an album that has far more to offer than “Royals.”
Pure Heroine was a lyrically-conscious collection of tracks that created a dialogue about Lorde’s lifestyle and perspective of success. “Tennis Court” was the first track of the album. Probably the second most popular song of Pure Heroine, the track began with “Don’t you think it’s boring how people talk? Making smart with their words again, well I’m bored.” Coming full circle, the last line of the last song was “But people are talking, people are talking… Let ‘em talk.” I wanted to highlight this deliberate sense of completeness that Lorde offered because she was deliberate, she was intentional; something which many modern artists (especially in pop) tend to miss. For example, Katy Perry’s (fun tidbit: Katy Perry asked Lorde to be supporting act for her world tour and Lorde denied) last album does not offer a common theme that binds all of the songs together. Some songs may hold a common meaning (if there was one) but the tracks do not altogether create a work. Pure Heroine does.
Well beyond her age, Lorde often sings about the stress and pressure that comes with fame. She is not naïve, conceding that she does have an insatiable desire for material things but she is also adamant that she will never let them dictate her life. She also provides commentary on pop culture today which is captured in the line from “Royals,” But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece. Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash. While Lorde seems to have a better grasp of reality than most sixteen year-olds, she is terribly afraid of growing older.
Another common theme in Pure Heroine is her fear of growing older. Some may think it is silly considering she is only sixteen and has so much life yet to experience. However, that is the jump-conclusion. It could also be viewed that Lorde has some wisdom. Many teenagers spend their years wanting to make it to the next tier; first it’s eighteen, then twenty-one. However, Lorde recognizes that she is living some of the freest years of her life and she desperately wants to hold on. That kind of thinking may cause a teenager to live a little differently.
Initially I thought I was going to write an album review of Pure Heroine. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that writing about music is really intimidating. Therefore, I gave a brief snippet of the artist’s background, rise to fame, and a general overview of her album. I highly recommend listening to Lorde. I believe that she is extremely talented and could continue to be successful so long as her music progresses with her.
Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is working as a freelance writer for Sagamore Institute, creating a social media management business (Connect You Consulting) and working full-time as a Management Assistant to the owner of a car dealership. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 in either economics, public policy, political science or business.