So, I haven’t actually written about Lorde yet. Err…HEY! LOOK OVER THERE. IT’S JESUS!
No. I know. It’s overdue. The thing is, it took me a long time to come around to the (newly) 17 year old New Zealand gloom-pop poetess. I didn’t like “Royals” when I heard it earlier this year and, frankly, I still don’t. I never will! I recognize that it’s a catchy, meaningful slice of left-of-center downtempo pop, but the melodies irk me. I just can’t get into it. And then Pure Heroine rolled around, and I refused to listen because I felt like the entire blogosphere was already buzzing about it. Loudly. And then Lorde started talking about Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift in interviews and claiming that she had no idea Britney was even a pop star before being “crazy Britney” (ow), and I found her attitude a bit rude and pretentious.
But then I thought about it more: She’s young. She’s speaking her mind. And that’s way more refreshing than simply being another pop pageant princess vying for the title of Miss Congeniality. Yes, she’s sometimes wrong (“Come & Get It” is not anti-feminist), but I do appreciate her outspokenness. She’s growing up and forming opinions in public. And more importantly, she’s sort of a child prodigy: I finally visited the album weeks ago and — lo and behold — I think it’s an fantastic debut. The production gets a bit same-y, but it’s fantastic nonetheless. (If you’re curious, “Buzzcut Season” is my favorite.)
Now that I’m nearly 25, which is like 45,400 years old in pop years (still adjusting to this whole generational shift, bear with me white teeth teens!), I recognize that Lorde is actually incredibly important to a new generation of pop lovers. She offers an alienness similar to Bjork and Kate Bush, complete with on-stage idiosyncrasies and moody, brilliant lyricism that is all but nonexistent today, apart from maybe Lana Del Rey, who is going for an entirely different aesthetic, and Lady Gaga, who isn’t actually all that “weird” — she’s a drama nerd who makes unhinged dance music. Lorde offers an actual alternative, focusing on themes that don’t revolve around binge drinking, dancing in the club or the celebration of excess and fame.
Her already cynical worldview is intimidatingly spot-on for such a young person: “It feels so scary getting old,” she confesses on “Ribs.” Old? You’re barely out of the womb! And yet, that doesn’t make the sentiment any less true.
Earlier today, Lorde dropped the video for “Team,” and that’s when I decided to publicly surrender.
True to one of the central themes of Pure Heroine, which is essentially “camaraderie of the unconventional and unpopular,” the song sees Lorde reigning supreme among her peers in a strange, rundown fantasy land. “I’m kinda over getting told to throw my hands up in the air, so there,” she cooly deadpans. Such a memorable line! It’s a perfect continuation of “Royals” — a snarky teenage eye-roll to mainstream radio.
The clip itself is a bit confusing without some explanation, and Lorde’s done a great job of that on her Facebook:
“This video was borne from a dream I had a few months ago about teenagers in their own world, a world with hierarchies and initiations, where the boy who was second in command had acne on his face, and so did the girl who was Queen. I dreamt about this world being so different to anything anyone had ever seen, a dark world full of tropical plants and ruins and sweat. And of this world, I dreamt about tests that didn’t need to be passed in order to be allowed in: sometimes the person who loses is stronger. Enjoy.”
Pure Heroine isn’t perfect, but it’s a pretty remarkable first statement — especially considering her age. It’s still too early to say for sure, but Lorde has the potential to take the crown as the Queen of Weird for a new generation.
‘Pure Heroine’ was released on September 27. (iTunes)