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Music / Lorde

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We live in cities you'll never see on-screen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Livin' in ruins of a palace within my dreams
And you know, we're on each other's team
I'm kinda over gettin' told to throw my hands up in the air
So there
I'm kind of older than I was when I reveled without a care
So there

Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor, better known by her stage name Lordenote  (born November 7, 1996), is an Indie Pop singer from New Zealand. Often credited as the Trope Maker for the Bedroom Pop genre that would gain widespread prominence by the end of the 2010s, her music usually deals with the problems of adolescence, paralleled with her own rise to fame.

Her debut release, The Love Club EP, went #2 in her own country, and her songs "Royals" and "Tennis Court" went #1. In September 2013, she released Pure Heroine worldwide, which gained critical acclaim for its production and lyrical content. It gained an Updated Re-release in December 2013, featuring a bonus track, "No Better", songs from The Love Club EP, and the "Tennis Court" B-side "Swingin Party".

She also reached a new height of fame when it was revealed at E3 2014 that her cover of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears was used in the cinematic trailer for Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Unity, and it was then revealed that she would be "curating" the soundtrack for the first part of the final The Hunger Games movie (Mockingjay).

Lorde released her sophomore album Melodrama in 2017. It features new sounds, and has a distinctly different feel to it based off her experience of rising to international stardom. She also collaborated with British duo Disclosure, producing the track "Magnets" for their second album. In the same year, she made multiple festival appearances for the first time since 2014, including Coachella and Governors Ball.

In June 2021, she released "Solar Power", the lead single off her third album of the same name. The album was originally meant to be released the previous year but was delayed extensively due to COVID-19 travel restrictions to New Zealand. She later revealed that the album would only be released digitally and on limited-edition vinyl due to environmental concerns.

Really, really should not be confused with Lordi - although she's confirmed her stage name is pronounced as "Lord", not "Lord-ee".

She is also definitely not a 45-year-old geologist from Colorado.


Tropes include:

  • Bad to the Bone: Her songs have seen a lot of use in movie trailers, commercials, and video game soundtracks within a year of her debut.
  • Book Ends: "Tennis Court" opens with "Don't you think that it's boring how people talk?" Fast foward to the last song in Pure Heroine's tracklist, "A World Alone", which closes with "The people that talk, yeah, people that talk, let 'em talk."
  • Break-Up Song: "Green Light", "Writer in the Dark"
  • Broken Record:
    • send the call out send the call out send the call out send the call out send the call out
    • I'm waiting for it, that green light, I want it. I'm waiting for it, that green light, I want it. I'm waiting for it, that green light, I want it...
  • Concept Album: Kinda with Melodrama: The album screams "break up album", but Lorde herself stated it isn't, but about the concept of loneliness.
  • Contemptible Cover: Solar Power has a picture of Lorde as she jumped over a friend, a picture she admitted to be "a little hardcore, but it was so joyful to me". Some markets censor her buttocks with a lens flare.
  • Cover Version: A cover of The Replacements song "Swingin' Party" appears as a b-side to "Tennis Court", as well as the last track on the extended version of Pure Heroine.
    • She made a cover of Tears for Fears' famous "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" for the Catching Fire soundtrack.
    • She did a surprisingly faithful cover of "All Apologies" along with the two former members of Nirvana when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
    • She covered Jeremih's "Don't Tell 'Em" in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.
    • She's also covered James Blake's "Retrograde" live.
    • At the 2016 Brit Awards, one month after David Bowie passed away from liver cancer, she performed "Life on Mars?" with Bowie's final touring band as a tribute to him.
  • Cut-and-Paste Suburb: "400 Lux" is about driving through one of these with a love interest.
  • Darker and Edgier/Deconstructor Fleet: She does this to teen pop. Rather than making party songs or more upbeat songs, they look at more of the dramatic and depressing side of being a teen.
    • Her cover of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears is this in spades, and arguably fits the lyrics a lot better than the upbeat original.
  • Deadpan Snarker: You been drinking like the world was about to end (It didn't)
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Going along with the summery, earthy vibe of her album "Solar Power", she is barefoot in all of the album's music videos and frequently in live TV performances promoting it.
  • Fanservice: An interesting example; "Royals" sounds like a song that would have lots of fanservice of women in its video, but instead, it has several shots of half-naked men, who are usually half naked with each other. The one woman in the video is very modestly dressed (in fact, she's only seen from the shoulders up!).
    • The cover of Solar Power: An upward short of Lorde jumping with a very obvious shot of her bare bottom.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Glory and Gore"
  • Free Handed Performer: She has admitted to focus on her stage presence and songwriting. "I'm hyper-musical, but I don't really play anything."
  • Genre Mashup: Her music can be a bit hard to describe due to being both pop and alternative simultaneously. To break it down: Dream Pop, Electronica, Synthpop, Minimalism, Ambient, Indie Pop, Art Pop, Dark Wave, Contemporary, and even a few traces of Hip-Hop can be found in the beats.
  • Gratuitous Panning: Features heavily in both "Ribs" and "Still Sane", emphasizing the chaos and confusion running through her mind in both of these songs.
  • Growing Up Sucks: The main theme of "Ribs".
  • Hates Small Talk: On "Tennis Court"
    Don't you think that it's boring how people talk?
  • I Am the Band
  • Icy Blue Eyes: They come off as this sometimes, especially in the "Royals" video (pictured above).
  • Identical Stranger: She and fellow pop singer Charli XCX bear a strong resemblance to each other, enough that Charli gets mistaken for Lorde by fans in public when she wears curly hair. That they both have strong foreign accents just adds to it.
  • Indie Pop: Has quickly become a Trope Codifier for it.
  • The Invisible Band: Subverted in the "Royals" music video. It seems like the video would just be about the teenage boys and their dull lives, but Lorde finally pops in two minutes in. The US version expands her presence.
  • Kid Hero / Improbable Age: Became one of the biggest music artists in the world at only 16.
  • Lighter and Softer: Solar Power seems to be going in this direction, if the title track gives indication: While it features the usual blunt Lorde lyrical themes, the music is much gentler and the music video gave off a much more lively and fun vibe than the bleak atmosphere of Melodrama or even the deconstructive nature of Pure Heroine.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Tennis Court", "Royals", "Team"
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Pure Heroine. Nothing but the names of the artist and the album.
  • Minimalist Indie Pop: Her main style, mixed with a few other genres.
  • Money Song: "Royals" is an attack on this type of music, criticizing it for promoting a lifestyle that 99% of people can only experience from their television screens. It's Charlie Brooker's "aspirational TV" rant as a song.
  • Motorcycle Jousting: In the video for "Team", Lorde heads up a secret society as two guys participate in motorcycle jousting as part of the initiation process.
  • Myspeld Rökband: Her name is a feminized version of "Lord". She chose it because she thought an aristocratic name sounded cool, but "Lord" on its own is too masculine to pass as a name for her.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "400 Lux"
  • Odd Friendship: She's quickly become one of the best friends of Taylor Swift.
    • Back in her primary school days, the musically-inclined Lorde was school friends with the athletically-inclined Eliza McCartney, who went on to win the women's pole vault bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics.
  • Ode to Youth: Arguably the primary theme of Pure Heroine.
  • The Oner: Her music video for "Tennis Court", which is just one shot of the lights flashing and her lip-syncing "yeah" every so often.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: During her 2013 rise to fame, she was just an ordinary Year 12 student at Auckland's Takapuna Grammar School when she was not in the studio or on tour. She decided not to return for her final year in 2014.
  • Ordinary People's Music Video: "Royals" features the singer's real-life friends, with the music video following the day in the lives of four teenage boys as they stare out of a window, eat some cereal, lay on the couch, box in a living room, buzz cut hair, tread water alone in a swimming room, and wait listlessly for the train. Even the lighting is gloomy and drab. In the video's YouTube description, Lorde explains that the video pushes back against how Teen Dramas such as Skins depict teenage life as glamorous, when in her view, "half the time we aren't doing anything cooler than playing with lighters, or waiting at some shitty stop."
  • Plaster Cast Doodling: She once broke her arm before the Met Gala and went to the event with a cast on it. Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Lily Collins, and Ansel Elgort all signed her cast, and some celebrity went ahead and wrote "Met Balls" with a drawing of a dick.
  • Precision F-Strike: And she was only sixteen years old when Pure Heroine came out.
    • Her song "Tennis Court" includes the first f-bomb in her music, causing the biggest controversy over a female swearing since Hit-Girl.
    • "Still Sane" has a couple instances of "shit".
    • From "Perfect Places"
      All these nights spent off our faces, trying to find these perfect places. What the fuck are perfect places, anyway?
    • "Sober" has a pretty strong one:
      Jack and Jill got fucked up and possessive when they get dark
    • On being asked what she thinks of a collaboration with David Guetta, she says quite simply 'Fuck no. He's so gross.'
  • Pride:
    • She has confessed that she finds herself arrogant, and on "Royals" she asks you to call her "Queen Bee".note 
    • Played with on "Still Sane"
      If only bad people live to see their likeness set in stone, what does that make me?
  • Pun-Based Title: Pure Heroine. Drugs and self-bragging. Well done, miss.
  • Rap is Crap: Downplayed on "Royals". The reference points she uses in the chorus (expensive liquor brands, fancy cars, gold teeth) are drawn mostly from 2000s Glam Rap, but she wrote the song mainly as a critique of contemporary pop music in general.
  • Record Producer: Joel Little for both The Love Club and Pure Heroine, then Jack Antonoff for the vast majority of Melodrama (only not working on "Homemade Dynamite") and the entirety of Solar Power.
  • Rose-Tinted Narrative:
    • "Supercut" is a Deconstruction of this, with the titular supercut being a metaphor for Lorde's positive memories of a failed relationship. She can dwell on all the times it made her happy, but they're still just memories, and it ultimately makes her yearn for a relationship that she knows was already doomed.
    • "Mood Ring" similarly deconstructs it, with the practices taken by the ladies in the music video and lyrics being framed as largely empty ways for people to feel like they're feeling positive without getting anything meaningful out of it.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: She does this constantly. In fact, it's very hard to find any instrumentation besides some synth and percussion, a good portion of her music is almost entirely voice.
    • Most obvious either at the start of "Team" (which is just her singing, getting gradually pitched down and then the actual instruments kick in), or at the beginning and end of "Yellow Flicker Beat", which is just her humming.
  • Self-Deprecation: There is video of her singing Randy Marsh's version of one of her songs.
  • Sexy Packaging: The cover of "Solar Power".
  • Shrinking Violet: Her song "Bravado" is about an introvert struggling in an extroverted family.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Being as she's a New Zealander who sings in a "neutral" accent, yeah.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "All Work And No Play Doesn't Make Me Lose It" is a reference to The Shining and "we gladiate but I guess we're really fighting ourselves" refers to Fight Club in Glory and Gore.
    • Inspiration for the title "Royals" and the iconic line "And we'll never be Royals" came from a photo Lorde saw of Kansas City Royals icon George Brett getting swamped for autographs.
  • Stepford Smiler: "Tennis Court" contains the lyric "We're so happy, even when we're smiling out of fear."
  • Stepford Suburbia: Buzzcut Season sounds like it may be about one of these.
    Explosions on TV, and all the girls with heads inside a dream, so now we live beside the pool, where everything is good.
  • The Beautiful Elite: White Teeth Teens.
  • The Stoic: Always comes off as cold and indifferent in both her music and videos.
  • Take That!:
    • "Royals" is all about how modern music is about things that most people never get to experience, like colossal wealth and pop-star/rap-star lives.
    • "Team" has a Take That! towards the dance music boom of the early tens.
      I'm kinda over getting told to throw my hands up in the air, so there
    • "Mood Ring" from the Solar Power album takes a shot at empty new age-ist practices sought out by people who desperately want to feel peace in a turbulent world, while also sympathizing with them.
    • She's also said a few choice words about her peers. Mostly against passive/opulent contemporary's of hers. She said that Lana Del Rey was irrelevant and unrelatable to teenagers.
    • There's an entire laundry list of people she's dissed. Including herself.
    • When producer/rapper Diplo made fun of her friend Taylor Swift on Twitter, saying someone should "get [her] a booty", she replied that someone should get him a larger penis first.
    • She also called out Teen Vogue for photoshopping a cover photo of her to make her skin look flawless and posted the original, untouched picture to prove it.
  • Title Drop: Not from Pure Heroine but from Melodrama, on "Sober II (Melodrama)":
    the fucking melodrama..
    this was melodrama...
  • The Vamp: She's one in the "Magnets" video, aggressively seducing an older man away from his wife. Of course it's all an act; she's a Professional Killer hired by the wife to kill him because she had enough of his abuse.
  • Wham Line: From "White Teeth Teens:"
    I'll let you in on something big, I am not a white teeth teen.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Some have noted that all the time she spent abroad in the United States has clearly Americanized her New Zealand accent.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years
  • Woman Scorned: "Green Light". She is very clear that she is not happy how things end.
    Those great whites, they have big teeth
    Hope they bite you
  • Younger than She Looks: Zig-zagged. When she's in full makeup an photographed from the right angle, many people have a hard time taking her for 17. On the other hand, any type of paparazzi photos that show her in private averts this trope. See here for example.

And we'll never be royals.