On Monday, New Zealand singer sensation Lorde released her first music video on YouTube for her song “Royals.”
The sixteen-year-old Takapuna Grammar School student, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O'Connor, has won international acclaim for her debut EP The Love Club. Although the five-song EP was first released in November 2012, it wasn’t until early this year that it went viral in New Zealand. Soon thereafter the single from the EP, “Royals,” spent three weeks atop the Billboard charts in that country.
It wasn’t long before buzz about the young singer began spreading beyond New Zealand’s borders, with Buzzfeed writing that, “Every song on the EP is worth listening to (a lot of times!) for different reasons.” Endorsements like that helped “Royals” become one of the most popular songs on the music streaming service Spotify in the United States in the last week of April.
Some of Lorde’s initial popularity was due to the mystery surrounding the singer herself. At first, no information was made available about the performer behind the popular EP. Later, Ms. Yelich-O’Connor went public and did her first photo shoot with the New Zealand Listener in March of this year.
The move paid off, as Lorde’s unmasking has only heightened her popularity. The sixteen-year-old is preternaturally cool and confident, with a wicked sense of humor. The fact that she writes all of her own songs has earned her comparisons to American singer/songwriter Taylor Swift.
In some ways Lorde is more exceptional given that her songs tackle subjects that go beyond the typical teenage romance themes of pop music. In fact, the singer has criticized other pop stars for their one-subject songwriting, telling the NZ Listener, “Everything is about a boy … I think we’re past that – it’s 2013. Every song doesn’t have to be ‘I’m absolutely nothing without you, I’m holding onto your leg, don’t let me go!’ It’s tired.”
Of the “Royals” in particular, Lorde said, “When I wrote Royals, I was listening to a lot of rap, but also a lot of Lana Del Rey, because she’s obviously really hip-hop influenced, but all those references to expensive alcohol, beautiful clothes and beautiful cars – I was thinking, ‘This is so opulent, but it’s also bulls**t.’”
Events have been moving rapidly for the young singer over the last few months. In early March she signed to Universal Records, the home of such recording artists as Kanye West and Taylor Swift herself. More recently, she booked an extended tour of New Zealand and Australia with many of the dates selling out within minutes.
And now comes the video for the eminently catchy “Royals,” which, in line with the subject of the song, mostly consists of normal teenagers doing unexceptional things in slow motion. With the exception of one extended frame of her singing, Lorde herself rarely appears in the video. Based on the brief commentary Lorde posted to the video, it appears to have been filmed near where she lives in New Zealand.
Within 24 hours of being posted to YouTube, the “Royals” music video was nearing 100,000 hits. Additionally, at the time of this writing, the song remains number four on Spotify’s top singles for New Zealand and number eight in Australia, though it no longer makes the top 100 singles for either the U.S. market or globally.