The Appeal of Lorde

0 Comments 13 July 2015

Youth culture, the minutiae of teenage years and suburban boredom are recurrent themes in singer and song-writer Lorde’s work. Yet it is easy to forget that she is eighteen, and has received numerous awards and nominations for her chart topping songs and albums. Rather than engaging in reflection upon her youth, she spins together lyrics as she is living it. Pure Heroine, her latest album, was released when she was just seventeen, and The Love Club EP a year before that – giving her lyrics a raw, unrestrained feel against the backdrop of minimalistic beats.

In an interview with Bernadette McNulty, Lorde says that she has “written about and for my peers and friends from the beginning”. She criticises generalisations made about teenagers, and describes her music as a “unifying thing, a call to arms”. Much Lorde’s character is keenly felt through her music. There is a hint of a rebellion and defiance present in “I’m little but I’m coming for the crown” – a refrain in one of her tracks, “Still Sane”. Artistically, her performances at concerts have attracted both criticism and praise. Yet this subversion of expectations is what at once makes her so unique and so universally appealing.

On my iTunes suggestions list, she is grouped with artists of a similar pop variety – Katy Perry, Iggy Azalea and Ke$ha. Yet it feels limiting to label her as pop, despite her repeated lyrics, minimalistic structure and catchy beats. Subgenres of electronica and rock merge to give her work more of an Indie feel – drawing on various sources of inspiration to appeal to people with an affinity for different genres of music. Friends who are fans of Taylor Swift, Erykah Badu or The Strokes are all also fans of the style of Lorde’s music.

After failing to match her up to suitable song-writers at the start of her career, Lorde became the sole song-writer for her tracks. Being introduced to writers such as Raymond Carver, Sylvia Plath and T.S. Eliot at a young age, the sentence structures of their prose and poetry have influenced her sparse lyrics. Her inspirations are also derived from a more personal level, with her mother and poet, Sonja Yelich, “always making sure there were lots of books around”. Lorde started off writing short fiction and then gradually developed her song-writing technique, which she describes as “potent, short and sharp”. Musically speaking, Lorde cites Grimes, Fleetwood Mac and Kendrick Lamar as prominent influences – drawing on their vocals, instrumentation and “sassy tone” respectively.

Most of Lorde’s fans are the same age as her, born into the same internet age. Connecting with them through her music remains a big part of maintaining her fan-base, yet outside of the commercially smooth and packaged look of her album, her engagement with social media, particularly Tumblr, adds another personal layer to her image. from fans outside the realm of highly publicized, formal interviews, and periodic posts about her personal life gives one the feel of constantly being in conversation with her – of contributing to a dialogue relating to the slightly angsty, bored, suburban feel of teenage years – through the unifying nature of her music.

Given her age, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of her achievements. Yet there is still a hint of normalcy in her public persona. In an interview with “Interview Magazine”, she says of her experience as an adolescent – “As a young teen, I went to a lot of David Lynch films, I read a lot of strange books, I loved to go to the museum all day. I was that kid. I liked to hang out with people older than me, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do—writing and singing was just a hobby.” – telling us all that we don’t need to have everything figured out, and that, sometimes, hobbies do become highly successful careers.

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