The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Lorde, the international pop star, secretly wrote unpopular Instagram reviews of onion rings

The singer Lorde was on “The Tonight Show” Friday, promoting the long-awaited follow-up to her hit debut album, and Jimmy Fallon quizzed her about how she passed the three-plus years in between.

A bit unusually, maybe, for an international celebrity, the songwriter said. She might pop off to a remote corner of her native New Zealand and spend days watching “Twin Peaks,” she told Fallon. Or — as she got close to finishing her album “Melodrama” — she’d bring her laptop to a late-night New York diner and bang out lyrics in semi-anonymity.

“You like diners,” Fallon noted, casually, his voice not betraying that he was leading up to a sensitive question.

Lorde agreed: She liked diners.

“Did you order onion rings?” Fallon asked.

The pop star responded with a loud sigh as Fallon pulled from behind his desk a printout of a website that had, in the past several days, become an enormous distraction from the 20-year-old artist’s album rollout.

Fallon held in his hands an image of a recently deleted Instagram account. It had 24 followers, and was called onionringsworldwide.

The only description: “Every onion ring I encounter, rated.”

There was, Fallon explained, substantial reason to believe these reviews belonged to Lorde.

The evidence had been first presented early last week on a New Zealand website Newshub, which was tipped off to the site’s existence by an anonymous teenager and noted: “the account could be best described as clandestine.”

And yet among onionringsworldwide’s paltry number of followers was Lorde herself, the site noted, along with several of her friends and associates.

Just as suspicious were the reviews themselves. Like: “Tempura onion ring eaten ceremoniously on plane from Tennessee to New York. Very good — thick, sweet onion and delicious chewy batter. … 4.5/5.”

French fries and onion rings are American classics. But which one is better?

Those midair onion rings had been reviewed on Tuesday, Newshub noted, just after Lorde’s show at Bonnaroo in Tennessee.

Then there were the breaded red onion rings, a gross-ish 2 out of 5, consumed in Australia, and the “pretty good” plate from Bareburger in New York — two corners of the world Lorde is known to travel between.

The site went so far as to compare the onion ring holder’s fingernails to the singer’s. But when it contacted Lorde’s management to ask about the onion rings, the account was suddenly removed.

Before long New York Magazine and other big pop-culture media outlets were on the trail of the Instagram account’s owner, much like Gizmodo once tried to suss out an FBI director’s secret Twitter handle.

Some fans became upset over the apparent outing of Lorde’s little side gig.

So, gingerly, Fallon pressed the question on his show: “Someone did some sleuthing, and they believe this is your site.”

But by then Lorde was done trying to hide her greasy secret. “Okay. I have to explain for a second,” she said. “Here’s the thing. I sort of naively didn’t realize it would be, like, a thing — that I was going different places and trying the onion rings at each of those places.”

Fallon’s eyes bugged. “It is you?”

“It’s me. It’s me.”

Lorde even explained why she took the site down upon discovery: “Now that everyone knows about it, people are going to be throwing onion rings at me on tour.”

Which may be a legitimate concern. While onionringsworldwide barely got started before being found out and deleted, it has already inspired an exponentially more popular copycat account.

By the end of segment, she seemed to have accepted this new aspect of her reputation, and shared with Fallon her conception of the perfect onion ring (battered, with lightly pickled onions), which she called a sadly “underrated” snack food.

Her new album, onions aside, is reviewing pretty well.

More reading:

How Google’s St. Patrick’s Day Doodle is built on a Star Wars Easter egg

How Princess Leia became an unofficial symbol for the Women’s March

Garfield’s a boy … right? How a cartoon cat’s gender identity launched a Wikipedia war.

Trump wants to defund PBS. ‘Sesame Street’ brutally parodied him for decades.