||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (February 2014)|
Lorde at the 27th Annual ARIA Music Awards, December 2013.
|Birth name||Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor|
7 November 1996 |
Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand
|Genres||Art pop, minimal, electronica|
|Labels||UMG, Lava, Republic|
|Associated acts||Joel Little|
Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor (born 7 November 1996), known by her stage name Lorde (//), is a New Zealand singer-songwriter. Born in Takapuna and raised in Devonport, Auckland, she performed in various singing and drama classes as a child, and at the age of thirteen signed with Universal. Yelich-O'Connor adopted her stage name due to her fascination with "royals and aristocracy", but felt the name Lord was too masculine so added an 'e' to make it more feminine.
Her musical debut was an EP, entitled The Love Club, which was released in November 2012, and her first single, "Royals", debuted at number one on the New Zealand Top 40, and also reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2013, making her the first New Zealand solo artist to have a number one song in the United States. Her debut album, Pure Heroine, was released in September 2013, receiving critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide.
Her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades. In October 2013, she jointly won the 2013 Silver Scroll award for "Royals", which celebrates outstanding songwriting achievements in original New Zealand pop music. For the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, Lorde received four nominations, in which she won Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for "Royals". In February 2014 she was chosen International Female Solo Artist at the BRIT Awards.
Ella Yelich-O'Connor was born in Auckland, New Zealand on 7 November 1996 to Sonja Yelich, a prize-winning New Zealand poet, and Vic O'Connor, a civil engineer. She was raised in suburban Devonport, Auckland with an older sister (Jerry) and a younger brother (Angelo) and younger sister (India). She is of Croatian and Irish ancestry.
At age 5, Lorde followed her friend into a drama group and discovered a love of singing and acting. Lorde has said she enjoyed how she had to "switch on a different side to myself and become a different me." Lorde's mother encouraged her to read books and is quoted as saying that at age 12 Lorde was reading Raymond Carver and Kurt Vonnegut and at 14 she was proofreading her master's thesis for her.
Lorde attended Belmont Intermediate School, where in 2009 she and friend Louis McDonald participated in, and won, the school's talent show. After seeing her performance at the talent show, McDonald's father sent out recordings of Lorde covering Duffy's hit song "Warwick Avenue" and Pixie Lott's "Mama Do" to various talent scouts. When Lorde was 13, A&R scout Scott Maclachlan signed her to Universal and she began working with a succession of songwriters but without success. Maclachlan told HitQuarters: "Fundamentally I think she understood that she was going to write her own music but would ultimately need someone to help with the production side of it."  Lorde began writing songs with her guitar at "about thirteen or fourteen."[better source needed] Lorde was eventually paired up with writer and producer Joel Little and the partnership "really clicked". Within a week together the duo had created three songs, including "Royals".
2012–present: Pure Heroine and breakthrough
Lorde's debut EP, The Love Club, was originally posted on SoundCloud in November 2012 and was available for free download. Manager Maclachlan said: "We felt it was a very strong piece of music and thought, let's just put it out and worry about the money later ... When it got to 60,000 free downloads [the record company] said, we have to stop now." A music supervisor in the United States heard the EP and played it to Lava Records CEO Jason Flom who subsequently wanted to meet Lorde and sign her to his Universal subsidiary label. Flom played the EP to Sean Parker who loved it and added "Royals" to his very influential Spotify playlist Hipster International. Flom said: "We saw an immediate reaction around the world ... It was the first spark that lit the blaze of attention and activity that culminated in Lorde’s incredible album debut."
Officially released digitally in March 2013 and on CD in May 2013, The Love Club EP features five songs, including the number one hit "Royals". On 27 May 2013, "Royals" was covered on national television on the New Zealand version of The X Factor by all-girl group Gap 5, mentored by Melanie Blatt. It was again covered on the Australian version, on 6 October 2013 by Jiordan Tolli, mentored by Redfoo, and on the Israeli version, on 5 January 2014 by contestant Tamar Friedman, mentored by Rami Fortis. "Royals" debuted as a single at number 1 on the New Zealand Top 40 on 15 March 2013 and remained in the top position for three weeks. On 8 May 2013, The Love Club EP debuted in the number 2 position on the album chart. In August 2013, with "Royals", Lorde became the first female in 17 years to top the US Billboard Alternative Songs chart, since Tracy Bonham with her 1996-hit, "Mother Mother". Following the release of "Royals" in the United States in June 2013, 85,000 copies were sold during a single week in July. In a subsequent interview, Lorde stated, "I had a sneaking suspicion that it might do all right". The song also peaked number 1 in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 (nine weeks at number one), as well as the Alternative charts and the Rock charts. With "Royals", Lorde became the first solo artist from New Zealand to top the US Hot 100, and the youngest artist to hold the US number one in more than 25 years.
The "Tennis Court" single was released in New Zealand on 8 June 2013. The Tennis Court EP was released digitally in the UK on 7 June (due to the timezone difference) and physically on 22 June. It was played during the BBC Sport coverage of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships – Women's Singles final. On 14 June 2013, Lorde's second single "Tennis Court" debuted at number 1 on the New Zealand Top 40 singles chart. In the same week, she also became the first New Zealand artist to simultaneously have four songs in the top 20 tracks of the New Zealand Top 40. Previously, Titanium held this record with three songs. Lorde was the replacement for Frank Ocean, who cancelled because of illness, at the 2013 Splendour in the Grass festival. She was contacted on 26 July 2013, the Friday immediately prior to the weekend of the festival, while she was at a party with friends in Auckland, New Zealand. She performed before 10,000 people in northern Byron Bay, Australia, where the festival is based in 2013.
On 12 August 2013, Lorde announced on her Twitter profile that her debut album Pure Heroine would be released in the US on 30 September 2013. The album's release was preceded by a New Zealand advertising campaign, with its lyrics displayed in classified ads, shop windows, posters and fax broadcast to media offices. In early September 2013, Lorde and co-writer Joel Little were shortlisted for the 2013 Silver Scroll Award—the award honours outstanding achievements in the writing of original New Zealand pop music songs—for "Royals". On 15 October, it was announced they had won. In a September 2013 interview for TV3's 3rd Degree, Lorde revealed that she had declined an offer from singer Katy Perry to be a supporting act on Perry's world tour. Her cover of Tears for Fears' hit song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was included on the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire film soundtrack. In November 2013, Lorde signed a publishing deal with Songs Music Publishing worth a reported $2.5 million after a bidding war between various companies including Sony and her label Universal. The agreement gives the publisher the right to license Lorde's music for films and advertising. Lorde was the subject of a Rolling Stone magazine cover story in January 2014, with her pictured wearing a t-shirt of the cover art of The Cramps' album Bad Music for Bad People. For the annual 'Hottest 100' list run by the national Australian station triple j, three of Lorde songs from Pure Heroine were featured: "Royals" at number two, "Tennis Court" at number 12 and "Team" at number 15. The list is based on the votes of participating triple j listeners.
Voice and music
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Lorde's voice is "unique and powerfully intriguing" according to music online publication PopMatters and has been described as being "way beyond her years" Lorde has stated her main focus is her voice, saying "I don't play any instruments, so my voice needs to have the focus. My vocal-scape is really important."
Lorde's musical style has been described by AllMusic as a "stylish mix of arty, confessional bedroom pop and club-ready electro-rock". Her work has also been compared to Grimes, Lana Del Rey, and Sky Ferreira. Musically, Lorde's debut album Pure Heroine followed in the same vein as the The Love Club EP, incorporating influences of ambient, art pop, dark wave, electronica, indietronica, minimal and synthpop. Lyrically, the album was primarily inspired by her youth and critiques mainstream culture.
Lorde's writing style and lyrical context on The Love Club EP has been described as aiming "to capture what it really is to be a teen", singing from a range of topics including the "all-consuming nature of friendship" to "finding yourself come hell or high water." Lorde described her sound as maturing when working on debut album. Pure Heroine lyrical themes have been said to "explore classic teen-pop themes – social anxiety, romantic yearning, debilitating ennui, booze-soaked ragers – with an eerie, zoomed-out detachment;" and be "certainly underpin[ed by]" "an adolescent aggrievance and angst." Rolling Stone wrote "Lorde's languidly aphoristic lyrics balance rock-star swagger and torqued-up teenage angst" and that her lyrics "have a rattle-nerve pathos and power like nothing else going in 2013." Meanwhile, James Lachno from The Telegraph commented that Lorde sounds "twitchy" and "trendy electro".
|Lorde talks about her influences on YouTube (sponsored by McDonald's, 2 October 2013)|
Lorde's music draws from electropop, but she grew up listening to soul musicians Etta James and Otis Redding, as well as her parents' favourite records by the likes of Cat Stevens, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac. She cites the unusual vocals of Grimes, the band Sleigh Bells and producer SBTRKT as her prominent influences. Lorde also stated that she was inspired by the initially hidden identities of Burial and The Weeknd, explaining, "I feel like mystery is more interesting", and called American musical artist Nicki Minaj an "important female in pop."
Lorde describes short story writers Raymond Carver, Wells Tower, Tobias Wolff and Claire Vaye Watkins as lyrical inspirations – particularly noting their sentence structures. Lorde stated her music is also inspired by authors, citing Tobias Wolff, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman and Leonard Cohen as influences on her writing.
During the writing of The Love Club (2013), Lorde was particularly influenced by Kanye West and she performed a cover version of West's song "Hold My Liquor" at her Auckland concert on 7 September 2013. Lorde has also cited Prince as an influence. Lorde's music has been described as containing masculine qualities due to Lorde listening and admiring a range of male artists. She cites James Blake as an influence on her music stating "I think he's awesome and has been a big influence on me recently", as well as citing rapper J. Cole and electronic producers as influences, which she praises for the use of using "their vocals in a really interesting way, whether it might be chopping up a vocal part or really lash or lairing a vocal."
Lorde has also indicated that she is influenced by artists who originated in the late 1970s era of American alternative and punk rock. She was photographed on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine wearing a t-shirt for the Cramps album Bad Music For Bad People and performed a cover version of the Replacements song "Swingin' Party" in June 2013.
Lorde has received praise for her stage presence, and live performances. Billboard magazine praised Lorde for having a "well-defined stage presence" and a "savvy" and "unflappable" attitude. The publication added that her performances contain "confidence and demeanor well beyond her years." Lorde's vocals have also been praised in the live context, with Lorde being called a truly "talented vocalist" who sounds "just like the record".
Lorde's stage presence and moves have been described as being "really unique and sort of intense." Lorde described her dancing as a reaction to the way "the music manifests itself" in her body, over which she has no control. Lorde has admitted to feeling embarrassed by her moves, but takes influence from David Byrne, who she says feels "the music, which makes me feel not so bad."
In preparation for performances, Lorde purposefully selects clothes that make her "feel grand" and contain an element of "theatricality". For the first of three sold-out New York City shows at the Webster Hall venue, the set design was markedly stark and the singer appeared in an unassuming black dress while her backing band – a drummer and a keyboardist – were complemented by basic spotlights. The New York Times review of the performance stated: "She moved to the beat, but like a teenager, not a music video trouper; her feet sometimes seemed planted to the stage. Lorde wasn’t pretending to be a superhuman pop idol ..."
Lorde is a self-identified feminist. As of July 2013, Lorde is a Year Twelve student at Takapuna Grammar School. In a November 2013 interview, Lorde expressed a kind of bewilderment at the financial rewards that will accompany her fame and dismissively stated that she will use the money on "geeky" items such as "first-edition books and rare pressings of records." The artist also provided an insight into a history of frugality in the same interview: "I am so used to not having money that spending over $200—I don't even think I could do it."
In January 2014, media articles revealed that Lorde is in a relationship with 24-year-old New Zealand-born photographer James Lowe, whom she met before her music career. They attended the 2014 Grammy ceremony together. In an interview with online magazine Rookie, Lorde explained:
… this is really personal, but James and I spent a lot of time, and still do spend a lot of time, driving around all over our city, and that for me was enlightening, because for once, the company that I’m keeping is affecting how I feel about these places, and in a positive way.
Lowe has won numerous awards for his photographic work, including the 2007 Mount Eden Young Artist Award – Photography Division and the 2010 Elam Photography Award in Postgraduate Studies, and, in addition to a large number of New Zealand solo exhibitions, was involved with a group show in Paris, France in 2011.
Lorde's song "The Love Club", from her debut EP (2013), was included on the compilation to raise funds for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan, with the proceeds from the song being donated to the Philippines for the relief efforts of the Philippines Red Cross. In December 2013, Lorde raised money for her local community in Devonport.
- Pure Heroine (2013)
The Faster Louder online publication, part of the Australian Sound Alliance media company, identified Pure Heroine as the top album of 2013 in its 'FL's Top 50 Albums of 2013' list. Published on 3 December 2013, the publication referenced its 2–13 October review, in which the writer referred to Lorde as "the pop superstar least likely". In 2013, Spotify announced that Lorde's song "Royals" was the most streamed song in New Zealand as well as being Spotify's most viral new artist worldwide.
In August 2013, Lorde became the first solo female artist to top the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in the US since Tracy Bonham in 1996. The song also holds the record for the longest reign by a woman atop the Billboard Alternative Songs chart (at seven weeks), surpassing Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know". With "Royals", Lorde is the first New Zealand act to have achieved a Billboard Hot 100 number one as lead artist. Lorde's work has received praise from many of her peers including Katy Perry and David Bowie with the latter saying Lorde's work was like "listening to tomorrow." Singer Elton John also praised Lorde's work, noting "Tennis Court" as "one of the most touching, beautiful things on earth."
Awards and nominations
For the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, Lorde was nominated for four Grammys: Record of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year for "Royals" and Best Pop Vocal Album for Pure Heroine. Lorde won both Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for her debut single "Royals". Lorde became the third youngest winner in Grammy history and the youngest winner from New Zealand, Lorde also became the youngest person to be nominated for the Record of the Year award.
- North American Tour (2014)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lorde.|
- Official website
- Lorde on Twitter
- LordeMusic on SoundCloud
- Lorde statistics and tagging at Last.FM
- Lorde at AllMusic
- Lorde at MTV.com