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Katy Perry’s Dark Horse: An Ode to Lorde?

The 16 year old New Zealand singer has been gaining famous fans like Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry.

The Diplomat reported earlier this year on Lorde, the New Zealand singer who, at the ripe old age of 16, has been properly described by The Hollywood Reporter as “already cooler than you or I could ever hope to be.”

Lorde, real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor, has been steadily gaining renown throughout the year after her song, “Royals,” went viral on Spotify. In March of this year Royals debuted at number one in her native country of New Zealand and, just last week, the song finally made it to the number one spot on the iTunes U.S. store.

Lorde also seems to be winning fans and influence from among the U.S. pop glitterati. For example, in climbing to the top of the iTunes chart, Royals displaced Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball,” which led Cyrus fans to issue death threats to Lorde via Twitter, including one fan who apparently threatened to stab the 16 year old’s rotting corpse. In response to the crudeness of her supporters, Cyrus ousted herself as a Lorde fan in a Tweet to the New Zealand singer, and noted that people can be so mean (Lorde had already previously Tweeted about her love of Cyrus’s music).

Katy Perry also seems to be a Lorde fan and indeed her new single, “Dark Horse,” has some undeniable parallels to the New Zealand singer’s own music. Last Tuesday, Perry released Dark Horse as her second single from her forthcoming album, Prism. Immediately, fans and critics noted that the song differs significantly from much of her previous work in its hip-hop inspired beat (and a verse from Juicy J) and darker tone.

Perry herself had this to say of Dark Horse: “It's kind of a juxtaposition. It's got me, a pop artist, with a little bit of an urban kind of hip-hop-flavored background soundtrack to it, and the lyrics are kind of witchy and dark.”

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This is quintessential Lorde. Although Lorde’s voice differs significantly from Perry’s, she is a pop singer whose music takes a darker tone over hip-hop inspired background tracks. Additionally, the bridge and chorus of Dark Horse employs heavy harmonizing vocals in the same way that Lorde songs like “The Love Club” and “Biting Down” have church choir-like harmonization.  

However, Dark Horse is probably most similar to Lorde’s song “Tennis Court,” particularly in that both choruses end with the music abruptly being cut and a chopped and screwed-like, low-pitched, male voice saying “Yeah” in Lorde’s song and “There’s no going back” in Perry’s new single.  

And if there was any remaining doubt about whether Perry’s a Lorde fan, this was put to rest on Wednesday when Lorde said in an interview that she had been asked to be Perry’s opening act in the American singer’s upcoming world tour in support of Prism. Lorde, in the way only she would, decided to turn down the enormously lucrative offer off a gut feeling that the opportunity wasn’t right for her career. She did add that she thinks Perry is really talented.

At the end of the month Lorde will release her first full length album, Pure Heroine, which is already available for pre-order on iTunes. Both Royals and Tennis Court will appear on the album and Lorde has performed many of the other tracks live. Pure Heroine’s first single, “Team,” was released earlier this month. Video is below.

Zachary Keck is Associate Editor of The Diplomat.