The Bottom Line
If Adele was still a teenager and she was hanging out with Grimes, she might sound a bit like Lorde on "Royals." However, a unique element about Lorde is that her song sounds like it's seeking to gather together a movement of fellow teens that are being raised outside the realm of wealth. This is a brilliant song of solidarity for a new generation.
- A different way of seeing the world for teens
- Spare production surrounding the clarity of Lorde's vocals
- Powerful lyrics
- One of the best releases of the year
- Written by Ella Yelich O'Connor and Joel Little
- Produced by Joel Little
- Released March 2013 by Universal
Guide Review - Lorde - "Royals"
And along comes the anti-Rihanna. 16 year old Ella Yelich-O'Connor, aka Lorde, has one of the strongest pop debuts in recent history. Her debut single "Royals" casts a sidelong glance at wealth, living in the right neighborhood, and conspicuous consumption to champion young people who, "Crave a different kind of buzz." The production is stripped down to such a minimalist level that it highlights Lorde's deadpan vocals as she clearly enunciates every word of the powerful lyrics. Despite the lack of ornamentation, ultimately there is something powerfully romantic about Lorde's fantasies of being, "Queen Bee."
"Royals" comes from the direction of alternative radio. However, the song's structure and melody are pure pop. It makes sense for Lorde to be embraced first by the alternative community because she places "Royals" in direct opposition to a vision of the pop mainstream as obsessed with diamonds, jet planes, and gold teeth. She sings, "We aren't caught up in your love affair." In the tradition of rock musicians of the past becoming champions of outsider groups, Lorde has placed herself as a voice for teens who do not value a current image of pop glamour.
Lorde's "Royals" not only depicts a different understanding of what it means to be successful as a teen in life, but also, as a female solo artist, she runs counter to the most successful alternative pop artists of the most recent generation. She is the first solo female to top the US alternative songs chart in 17 years. As simple as this song may seem on the surface, it is in actuality one of the most powerfully subversive pop hits in recent memory...and that sounds very, very good.