As you might know, there’s a new star on the scene: Lorde. Not only does she have a distinct style that shot her up the Billboards charts, there’s something else: she’s sixteen years old, and for someone at that age to make such big waves in the grand, sprawling international music industry is legendary.
Now, I don’t follow music that much. I’m not obsessed with current pop/country stars, and throughout the years I’ve singled out a few of my favorites. I only have absolute favorite songs, not artists; my music palate is quite picky and I’m wary of songs that become popular just because they have catchy music and no real deep meaning behind the repetitive words.
The first time I heard Lorde’s smash song Royals, my reaction was like, “That’s it?” The tune was queer, different. The music video was minimalist, with alternating shots between the artist herself singing into the camera against a blank wall and of boys living in a grayscale, suburban-town world. The lyrics had no effect on me whatsoever. “So, what’s the big deal?”
But the song stuck with me for weeks at school. I found myself humming the song on breaks and with friends and the lyrics and tune refused to let go. And when her fame escalated, on a bored Internet search, I looked up the meaning to the lyrics of Royals. And the more I began to understand the words she sang, the deeper the appreciation I felt for her.
She talks about how other songs depict a glamored, unrealistic Hollywood life, with “Gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom…” and “Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece…” She talks about how she doesn’t really care for a life like that, and how “We aren’t caught up in your love affairs.” She talks about her own humble roots—how she came from a low-key town. She talks about how she—and the rest of us—can’t afford such a glossy, flashy life, how we can only dream about ruling our small-town worlds.
In the book industry, there’s long been an unspoken secret on why most books are successful; because they have “real” characters. In popular books such as The Hunger Games, The Fault in our Stars, and Divergent, they all have honestly shaped, intrinsically flawed characters. They don’t have to be beautiful, or the nicest people on earth. They can be scarred and defensive and weak and small. But despite their shortcomings, their troubles, they rise above and conquer and become, in the loosest sense, heroes of their own small stories.
And that’s why I love Lorde.
Because she is real. Because the music industry has been so pretentious, so hyped with glitter-dusted stars and wild concerts, with an undercurrent judgement on beauty and looks. And Lorde breaks that norm, with her softly dusted voice that echoes her intelligence and quiet strength. Her songs don’t brag. She has a personality—she recently called Selena Gomez out on anti-feminism in her song Come and Get It, with its provocative lyrics. Some might view that as obnoxious, for even daring to challenge a popular pop singer, but I think it’s refreshing. People are scared to stand up to the pop stars because of their status, but I think it’s nice when the queen bee is challenged and critiqued once in a while.
The music industry needs that. The people that look up to the music stars need that. They need a down-to-earth role model that they can connect with.
Lorde has no mask of arrogance. Because in the end, she speaks the whole, courageous truth. She doesn’t just speak to us. She speaks about us, too. She is one of us.
In that irony, she truly rose to be her own “queen” of the Billboards. And I, someone who isn’t even into today’s pop culture, say bravo.