Lorde has warned people against calling her a “teen hottie”
The New Zealand star told the New York Times that she takes particular offence at that term, but insisted she’s not anti-sex.
In an interview with the New York Times, the New Zealand singer said: “The phrase ‘teen hottie’ literally makes me want to throw up. I’m a pop princess at heart. Pop is about distilling what you want to say and making it easy. And the way I write isn’t about making things easy. It’s a weird juxtaposition.
She added: “People like to paint me in a certain way, but I’m a hugely sex-positive person and I have nothing against anyone getting naked. For me personally, I just don’t think it really would complement my music in any way or help me tell a story any better. It’s not like I have a problem with dancing around in undies — I think you can use that stuff in a hugely powerful way. It just hasn’t felt necessary for me.”
She also stated she had made things difficult for herself by being determined in her career so far. She said: “I would like to think that my public persona comes naturally to me and isn’t that dissimilar to my real way of doing things. I’ve turned down easily tens of millions of dollars doing what I do and saying no to things that I think are corny.”
Last month she unveiled a surprise single ‘No Better’. In November, it was revealed that the 17-year-old had signed a publishing deal with Songs Music Publishing worth $2.5million (£1.56 million). It was reported that the record company is keen for the singer to collaborate with their other signings, including Diplo and The Weeknd, and write songs for other artists.
Songs Music Publishing president Ron Perry told Billboard: “She’s going to be a really big songwriter outside of Lorde. She’s going to have a lot of big songs out there as Ella (Yellich O’Connor), she’s a once-in-a-generation type artist.”
Lorde’s single ‘Royals’ made her youngest female US chart-topper in 25 years and also the first person from New Zealand to score a US Number One. ‘Royals’ has been nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance at the 56th annual Grammy Awards. ‘Pure Heroine’ as also been tipped in the Best Pop Vocal Album category.
Lorde’s career trajectory over the last six months has been nothing short of impressive, a true industry story of a fledgling artist who came, saw, and literally conquered. Her hit single “Royals” continues to reign supreme on the charts, but she’s also gone on to excel elsewhere: on top of a great debut album, she’s been remixed by The Weeknd and Wu-Tang’s Raekwon, been chosen to be on the next Hunger Games soundtrack alongside The National and Coldplay, and let’s not forget about that time she hung out with freaking David Bowie and Tilda Swinton.
But even amidst all the head-spinning success (and backlash, too), Lorde still knows how to take a step back to reflect and be grateful, which is exactly what she did on her 17th birthday. Yesterday, in an open letter posted on Tumblr, she looked over the past year; from barely starting a Soundcloud account to playing “to a room of people whose names i worship, breathe like fine gold smoke, reverent”, from talking about Pokemon with friends to listening to Stevie Nicks in the big city. Read it below.
i’m in new york city. i’m writing this because i’ve fallen into this odd crevasse of age where in new zealand, it’s my birthday, but in new york, there’s still a day to go. this is my first birthday away from home, which is cool except that my little brother, who was born on the same day as me, turns twelve today. happy birthday, angelo. i owe you lots of icebreaker sours.
i think back to my last birthday; it fell in the middle of exam revision but a bunch of my friends came over anyway to eat cake and ruffle my hair and talk about pokemon. weirdos. miss them and my family terribly! but i have a kind of family here, in new york – our little tight bunch playing shows and being overwhelmed constantly and falling asleep in the backs of cabs.
this time last year i was making a soundcloud, and a twitter, and a tumblr, all in the name lorde. i had no clue what was going to happen with the music. i hoped it’d be alright.
last night, i played to a room of people whose names i worship, breathe like fine gold smoke, reverent. there is a lot of stupid shit that comes with being lucky enough to do what i do – a lot of stuff i’d rather skip, if i could – but i wouldn’t have traded last night for anything. i felt so warm in the arms of these legends who are good enough to have faith in me, weird little screwball that i am. i realize over and over every day just how lucky i am to be here. and that’s down to all of you, as well – regular people in dumb towns who make me feel so loved and strong, and whose hunger i can’t wait to satisfy with more music.
i don’t even know what i’m trying to say, just attempting to reflect on what’s going on right now. i’m already thinking about the next project, about reinvention, and personae, and theatricality and subtlety, and simplicity and complexity. and strength. today’s weird time blip is a day off (kind of), so i’m going to wrap up warm and walk around the city listening to stevie nicks and broken social scene, feeling all seventeen, hugging myself against the cold. if you see me, and i’m whispering to myself all crazy, don’t worry. it’s just a happy mantra of thanks for the way things are.
The other day, a friend of mine who recently moved to New York from Salt Lake City was lamenting the collective fashion sense of her Williamsburg brethren. Back home, she explained, you could automatically tell who was alternative and who was a square, based simply on the way they were dressed. In New York, it’s different. “Everything’s blended together,” she said. “There’s no way to tell who’s mainstream and who’s not.”
All due respect to my friend, there are still plenty of freaks walking around in NYC. But her observation is useful in evaluating the output of a new crop of indie singers, who, as Steven Hyden noted over at Grantland, don’t sound all that alternative. Like the kids in Brooklyn that my friend can’t figure out, these artists are mixing signals in a way that makes them hard to decipher and emblematic of a shape-shifting generation.
One of the best and poppiest new acts toeing that line is Lorde, a 16-year-old Kiwi with a voice like Lana Del Rey and an attitude far more interesting. Where Del Rey seems content to be a poster-girl for an industry-stamped combination of vintage style and vague, fashionable angst, Ella “Lorde” Yelich-O’Connor is more difficult to pin down, and is, as a result, a lot more fun.
The first single from her new album Pure Heroine is a good example. “Royals,” seems at first to be a straightforward song, with the same anti-consumption attitude that has powered recent radio hits (“Thrift Shop”) and avant-garde outbursts (“New Slaves,”) alike. But the song is knottier than it first appears.
For one thing, similar to Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank),” it’s got the potential to sound like a celebration of the very things it purports to reject. The song’s catchy, elongated bridge: “gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom, bloodstains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room” etc. will no doubt lead some epic party sing-alongs. And those signifiers’ placement within the song guarantee that they’ll be celebrated with the fervor that Lorde is initially denying them.
Then there’s the chorus, where things get really tricky, as it operates on a distinction between being a “royal”–someone with money–and “ruling,” which, apparently means simply being awesome, a trickier aspiration that’s less easy to assume simply by making some money.
This is fascinating stuff, which contains an undercurrent of political thought that has (for the most part) been missing from mainstream pop since rap found shiny suits. The difference is that there’s no confusion here about “serious” music–Pure Heroine makes it clear that pop songs are as useful as vehicles for in-depth ideas as any banjo-powered protest jam.
The album is chock full of moments of genuine rebellion–a spark that can’t be consistently found in any one genre of music anymore. “Buzzcut Season” opens with a line delivered innocuously enough: “I remember when your head caught flame.” The story goes on to detail a genuine devil-may-care reaction to an unintentional hairstyle change–a rebellion more difficult to signify than the simple mention of molly in an otherwise perfectly bland anthem-by-numbers. But at the same time, the song is pure pop, with girl-group cooing, another of those head-grabbing bridges, and talk of “explosions on TV” and other recognizable symbols of pop bombast.
Lorde – Webster Hall – 9/30/13
Better Than: Whatever the hell I was doing at 16.
Lorde has a darkness about her. Around 9:30 p.m, she slinked on a fairly dark stage that never let itself become much more brightly lit than moments of off-center spotlight grazing her dancing along to the beats of her songs. In all black herself, Lorde’s stage presence is as much an antithesis to pop as her lyrics are. But beneath her Wednesday Addams exterior and pouting lyrics that serve as the linguistic equivalent of giving a one shoulder shrug, the rapidly rising New Zealand native is beginning to cast a pop star mold for herself that’s as refreshingly moody as it is addicting.
In her contrarian pop way, Lorde is still very obviously cultivating her own presence on stage. It’s charming and relatable the way she moves to her own tunes by jerkingly hunching her body over her microphone in time to the drums while her fingers pet the air in front of her like a cat. She looks natural, unchoreographed, and less apathetic than her music would make one assume. Much like her audience, Lorde couldn’t help but get lost in the lush beats and sound of her debut album Pure Heroine. Its songs sound even more captivating live.
With only the new album and a short EP The Love Club under her belt, Lorde’s setlist was understandably short. Beginning with “Bravado,” a gothic electro-pop ballad from her EP, she sang how she wants “the applause, the approval” before becoming the hearty recipient of both from the packed audience. The repetitive but hauntingly doom-beat driven “Biting Down” followed and brought out the debut of her most intense incarnation of her clawing and hunching drum dance.
Single “Tennis Court” arrived early in the set and delivered the night’s sweetest moment when the audience warmly and enthusiastically cheered right after Lorde sang “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane.” The applause felt sincere as the singer continued on without missing a note. Even sweeter was her crooning, swooning cover of The Replacements’ “Swingin Party” which gave her an opportunity to really show off her rich voice in all its glory. The Replacements weren’t the only artist Lorde covered during the night, however, and her version of “Hold My Liquor” from Kanye West’s summer smash Yeezus was a particular delight as it slipped in and out of her setlist with a surprising amount of ease.
Naturally, before the night ended, Lorde had to include “Royals.” Being the opposition to modern pop luxury, hence her reign on the Alternative Charts, she chose to not make her biggest song the bookend to her concert and completely skipped an encore despite the crowd lingering for an abnormal amount of post-concert time. Non-closer “Royals” elicited a massive sing-a-long without Lorde having to do the gimmicky microphone-towards-the-audience trick. Afterwards, she blazed through her final tracks, including a glimmering performance of “A World Alone” at the end. With that, Lorde left the stage as mysteriously as she entered it before allowing the set to be illuminated brighter than it had been all evening.
USA DEBUT Lorde – A World Alone (live @ Le Poisson Rouge 8/6/13)