By: Amanda Dee – Staff Writer
“Royals” rules iTunes and the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but 16-year-old Kiwi Ella Yelich-O’Connor, under the regal stage name Lorde, commands her voice as “we” and “us” – one of the people.
“Pure Heroine,” released Sept. 27, verbalizes the stone-walled dissonance between the widespread music audience and the gold-teethed bourgeois musicians. In “Royals,” she decries the elite, “Everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece,” then unveils her envy, “Let me live that fantasy.”
“Around the middle of last year I started listening to a lot of rap, like Nicki Minaj and Drake, as well as pop singers like Lana Del Rey,” Lorde told Interview Magazine in May. “They all sing about such opulence, stuff that just didn’t relate to me—or anyone that I knew. I began thinking, ‘How are we listening to this? It’s completely irrelevant. I basically just wrote what we were all thinking.”
Lorde’s sovereignty extends past this expose of elitism in the music industry to a critique of anti-feminism laced in the lyrics and music reigning over the industry.
“I’m kind of tired of being told to throw my hands up in the air,” she declares in “Team.”
She declares her feminism boldly—as bold as her dark, dominating curls. She isn’t afraid to speak out against iconic pop artists like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, and she isn’t afraid to stand by what she says.
“I love pop music on a song level, but I’m a feminist and the theme of [Selena Gomez’s ‘Come & Get It’] is, ‘When you’re ready, come and get it from me.’ I’m sick of women being portrayed that way,” she told Rolling Stone this fall.
Gomez responded – she stopped covering “Royals” on her tour and addressed Lorde’s comments in an interview on “The Kane Show,” saying, “I think she is super talented… But I think at the same time that feminism and that specific thing is very sensitive because in my opinion it’s not feminism if you’re tearing down another artist.”
“The Kane Show” interviewer, Danni Starr, swatted away Lorde’s declaration.
“At 16, we all kind of felt like we knew everything,” Starr said.
At 16, Lorde has already released “The Love Club EP” and a chart-topping album, “Pure Heroine.” At 16, Lorde breathes insight into her lyric, but her age renders her a vulnerable target for attack.
“People will be super patronizing and talk to me as though I’m a child and I can’t make any of my own decisions,” she said in Rolling Stone.
On “MTV News,” she recently addressed the Gomez situation and the cultural cell restraining her voice, saying, “I think there’s a funny culture in music that’s only happened over the last 15 years, and that is haters. That if you have an opinion about something in music which isn’t 100 percent good, you’re a ‘hater,’ even if you have perfectly reasonable grounds for that critique.”
Lorde breaks out of the cell imprisoning every musician: the dehumanizing bars that prevent musicians from living as one of the proletariat, as one of “us.”