Interview: Lorde Wins Rookie of the Year — And Blows Away the Competition
By Jeremy D. Larson
Like all great business ideas or food trucks, it starts with a pun. Lorde titled her debut LP Pure Heroine, a fine if not dangerous play on words, pairing the slink and sex of broken rock ‘n’ roll dreams with a model of feminine power. Little did the now-17-year-old singer/songwriter know that “Pure Heroine” would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It came out of nowhere, but her meg hit “Royals” didn’t just burst out of thin air. Since age 10 or 11, Lorde has been writing songs, consuming Raymond Carver and Kurt Vonnegut novels, and diarizing her thoughts, which she would draw upon a few years later when she started really working on music.
Now Lorde has gone on to international fame, filling theaters with fans young and old eager to hear her small cache of songs (and great covers of Kanye and The Replacements). She’s also been nominated for four GRAMMYs, including Song of The Year, Record of the Year and Pop Solo Performance of the Year. It’s her who’s the diamond in the flesh.
“More than anything it’s just a really nice gesture,” Lorde told Radio.com of the nominations. “Like I feel kind of welcomed in some way, which is really cool.”
As with most pop stars fresh to the game, with newfound fame comes the newfound narrative. In addition to the New Zealand export earning the title of youngest artist to top the Hot 100 since Tiffany in 1987, there’s the “Lorde is the anti-Miley” tagline. Juxtaposing two kinds of pop stars in this culture often leads to one being more “real” than the other. Just like it was with Avril v. Britney almost ten years ago, there’s always going to be people telling you what you should be. It’s part of entering the celebrity machine, which Lorde — born Ella Yelich-O’Connor — plans to avoid.
“I think it’s hard not to be aware of the celebrity machine now in 2013 with the internet and you can kind of read up about everything,” said Lorde. “That was something I was kind of fascinated with growing up. I don’t know, I think I’ve got a pretty okay head on my shoulders and I don’t really crave a lot of the things that go along with having a No. 1 single.”
Part of that rather undefinable realness of Lorde came with the unusual frankness — at least by normal pop star standards — of her interviews, in which she didn’t hold back her skepticism regarding Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and more. She’s mostly clarified publicly or privately about her statements, but already she was the girl who was pegged as separate from other pop stars, unconcerned with the trappings of fame or how far her words will travel as her on celebrity status grows exponentially.
She’s acutely aware of who she is, and how she came to her success. With her new single “Team” making an impact with worldwide audiences, and a North American tour in the spring, there will be plenty of time for Lorde to get more of a balance in this sudden success.