She’s not into “Royals,” but she’s ruling the charts.
Meet Lorde, the 16-year-old singer-songwriter who knocked Miley Cyrus off her “Wrecking Ball” to top Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Thanks to “Royals,” a catchy commentary on status and excess from her debut album “Pure Heroine,” Lorde is gaining a following. Billboard announced Wednesday that the song has topped the chart for the fourth consecutive week.
Here’s a quick primer on everything you need to know about the New Zealand native who has vaulted to the top of the charts.
It’s pronounced Lord.
Which is easier to pronounce than her real name: Ella Yelich-O’Connor. Lorde explained the moniker in Interview magazine: “When I was trying to come up with a stage name, I thought ‘Lord’ was super rad, but really masculine — ever since I was a little kid, I have been really into royals and aristocracy,” the singer told Interview magazine. “So to make Lord more feminine, I just put an ‘e’ on the end! Some people think it’s religious, but it’s not.”
“Royals” has an impressive list of accolades.
‘Royals’ came pretty naturally to Lorde — the singer told Billboard that she wrote the lyrics in “in like half an hour” before consulting with her co-writer, producer Joel Little. The two took home the 2013 Silver Scroll Award, New Zealand’s most prestigious songwriting honor. When the song hit No. 1 on the Hot 100, Lorde became the youngest performer in 26 years to top the charts. She became the first woman in 17 years to top Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. Tracy Bonham led the rankings with “Mother Mother” in 1996 (that’s the year Lorde was born). Lorde has now bested Alanis Morissette’s record for the longest reign, too.
She considers herself a feminist.
And she’s been pretty outspoken about some of her fellow pop stars. “Taylor Swift is so flawless, and so unattainable, and I don’t think it’s breeding anything good in young girls,” Lorde reportedly said, later clarifying the statement (and praising Swift) on Tumblr. Lorde doesn’t seem to be backing down from comments she made about Selena Gomez. “I’m a feminist and the theme of her song is, “When you’re ready come and get it from me,” Lorde said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I’m sick of women being portrayed this way.” Gomez, who has covered “Royals” on tour, addressed the comments in a radio interview.
Lorde has attracted her own ire from critics — earlier this month, a blog post on Feministing, a leading feminist Web site, asserted that “Royals” has racist undertones, launching a debate about the song.
She’s not that into the spotlight.
“In a perfect world, I would never do any interviews, and probably there would be one photo out there of me, and that would be it,” Lorde told Billboard. It’s somewhat telling that viewers catch only intermittent glimpses of Lorde in the video for “Royals.” By contrast, she’s front and center in the video for her song “Tennis Court” — uncomfortably so, as she takes turns staring directly into the camera and staring down as the light fades in and out. A metaphor for celebrity, perhaps?
Yep, she’s really only 16.
It’s easy to see why Lorde is pegged as wiser than her years. But her age is sort of the point isn’t it? In a Q&A with Billboard, she explained the ethos behind “Pure Heroine”: “A lot of it is not about specific experiences but about something more broad — the feeling of being my age and living in a suburb, and feeling as if there’s absolutely nothing to do,” she said. “There’s the weird social issues that come with being a teenager.” If anything, Lorde just analyzes her teen angst more than most. “I’m really interested in kind of weird social situations and cliques, watching girls vying for attention, watching how the popularity thing happens,” she told The Guardian. “I’ve always thought too hard about everything.”