Electro-pop princess: Sixteen-year-old singer, Lorde, delivers creative debut album, hit-single ‘Royals’

Illustration by Andy Casadonte | Art Director

With Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber’s careers changing before our eyes, there is an understandable apprehension toward artists younger than 20. But 16-year-old New Zealand singer Lorde is the exception with her debut album “Pure Heroine.”

Originally signed to Universal Music Group at 13, Lorde has been writing music for the last three years. Her voice is distinct, with a slight raspy tone and maturity well beyond her age. “Pure Heroine” is no Disney album. And it isn’t even pop. Her style of music is a mixture of indie and electro-pop, with noticeable influences from SBTRKT and Lana Del Rey.

The album’s first single, “Royals,” received acclaim in the United States, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It’s a mainstream song about, well, not being mainstream. Lorde sings, “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.”

Lorde seems down to earth. The music video for “Royals” shows her friends just hanging around a residential area. There is no pomp and circumstance with her.

At first, she sounds a little like Jessie J. when she raps in this song, and it’s a nice comparison to Jessie J.’s “Price Tag.” But Lorde, who also notes Nicki Minaj as an inspiration, assures listeners she is her own artist and is not trying to imitate anyone.

“Tennis Court,” the second single of the album, is catchy and mellow. The beat is similar to Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You.” But the song is incredibly original.

“Team” is an electro-pop sounding track. She manipulates her voice, singing in a lower register for a part of it, and uses an echo effect as well. This was the third single released from the album, but it hasn’t been played on many American radio stations yet. It’s a bittersweet song, as she sings, “We live in cities you’ll never see onscreen. Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things.” While it’s not entirely clear if she is paying homage to New Zealand, her exotic factor is mysterious enough, and it’s exciting.

Some of the album’s greatest assets include the hauntingly beautiful track, “Ribs.” In the song, she admits “It feels so scary getting old” over a choir of her own voice, duplicated and harmonized. There is a poetic element to this song. She only mentions the word “ribs” once (which is then repeated as an echo) but the song is about something deeper. There is an element of sadness, but she sings with such authority and beauty that you almost don’t want to know why. The same eerie feelings are felt in “Still Sane.”

While “Pure Heroine” is a very strong album, it could have used some collaboration. Frank Ocean, Dillon or Youth would have been excellent artists with whom she could work with.

But Lorde remains in a category of music that is all her own. She is a world of contradictions. She is famous while still maintaining humility. She is foreign while still having an element of familiarity. She is young while sounding like someone who is way beyond her years. So while she is still relatively new, I’m excited to hear more of her music.

Lorde reassures us that young artists don’t have to turn mainstream. She has her own promising style, and she doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.


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