With her hit single “Royals,” 16-year-old New Zealand singer Ella Yelich-O’Connor a/k/a Lorde has become to first solo female to top Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart in over 17 years. The last female musician to top this chart was Tracy Bonham in June 1996, with “Mother Mother.” As Billboard points out, only 10 number one songs in total have been by solo female artists.

Below, watch the video for “Royals” and check out Lorde’s most recent single, “Team,” from her upcoming full-length Pure Heroine out 9/30 via Lava/Republic. They’re both super addictive, and both balance a sort of vaguely anti-materialism mindset with commentary on mainstream pop music. “Every song’s like, gold teeth, Grey Goose, tripping in the bathroom, bloodstains, ball gowns, trashing the hotel room,” she sings on “Royals,” later clarifying: “We’ll never be royals / It don’t run in our blood … That kind of lux just ain’t for us.”

And on “Team” she sings, ” I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air / I’m kinda older than I was when I reveled without a care.” She explained this to Fader: “There’s been so much of that in pop music, and I’m like, this is the stupidest thing,” Lorde said. “Being told to put your hands in the air? That’s the last thing I wanna do right now. I just wanted to be a bit more realistic.”

Comments (10)
  1. Here we go, everyone — The re-Avrilization of pop music where everything that was shoved down 16-year-olds social media feeds for the past three years about forced positivity gets turned upside by the anti-Demi Lovato and the anti-Selina Gomez. I really don’t want to think too much about industry trends, though, and just enjoy what is a really great pop song.

    • I can see how you could read like that, but I think for her it comes from a bit of different place. Her songs go from her admitting that the lifestyle and fantasy is something she crazes and desires, but that she comes from a world where that exists plainly as that: fantasy. I like the running theme of teenage boredom and ordinary growth in contrast to the luxury and boasting of pop culture. I think she knows how to talk about these small town kids who see that world as so distant and feel bored with their own lives because she clearly is (or was) one of them.

      She can’t keep this up much longer (now that she is a pop artist herself, she’ll have to find a new focus for her work), but right now, I do think she is more than just hipster-Avril. Either way, we can both agree it’s a good song in the end.

    • I will gladly accept this trend if it means to combat the evil that is the Miley Cyrusization of pop music.

    • So does that mean in a year’s time Joanna Newsom will come along and release a big pop album that everyone will hate, but in a decade’s time will get critically reassessed on certain music blogs?

    • I dunno. Avril’s music and image was pretty calculated… I don’t sense the same corporate, shrink-wrapped, mock teen rebellion vibes from Lorde. If record execs wanted to an anti-Miley, I don’t think a 16-year-old from New Zealand would be the likely route to take. Plus, hobbits used to have to slay dragons and/or save the entire world from orcs and evil to get any mainstream attention. Now all it takes is a pop music prodigy. That alone should give us pause as we reflect on how far we’ve come.

      • Didn’t people defend Lana Del Rey in just the same way at first? Look how well that turned out.

        Anyway, my point wasn’t in drying a direct correlation between the type of pop stars Lorde and Avril are, but more so how both were popular as a reaction to the bubblegum, “reach for the stars” bull that preceded it. Every trend in music is a reaction to what became before it. It’s why five years ago, “wussy” indie music like Sufjan and Bon Iver or prettied up rap was the norm, but now harsh, ugly DIY sounds and Kanye doing Yeezus are prevalent.

  2. I really love that “I’m tired of getting told to throw my hands up in the air… so there” line. This a great hook, and I like this much better than her previous songs (that already showed potential).

  3. Seems like the industry is making a push with her and Haim and others to create some new left-of-center female pop sound~ala Natalie Imbruglia from the 90s. Just as with Haim (after hearing them live) and countless other pop stars, I doubt much of the musical elements we’re hearing are her own. It’s a lot slick studio polishing by career studio musicians taking chicken scratch and making a showy snow cone out of it. It’d be quite a feat to break into the industry and sound this professional polished right off the bat by yourself.

  4. I think the big picture is the deMyley Cyrusization of pop music trend, and opening the eyes of the DJ/ dance club subculture, who are addicted to EDM and Molly (MDMA) aka “Ecstasy”, however, difficult as it is to realize and admit you have an addiction, to do just that and move on with their lives with or without the lifestyle. It really is unfortunate for those caught up with drug addictions, alcohol abuse, and wanting to be somebody. Not to criticize, although, here are some key points to remember: 1. Grow up and do more with your life if you cannot enjoy music and dancing without needing illegal drugs 2. Don’t go to clubs where that sort of music entices you to do such things 3. Open your mind to music as a whole not just the kind you can relate to 4. Find a new way to express yourself or a new way to have fun. I am sure there must be a more educated solution. If you find these suggestions conservative or just lame, you may be legally insane.

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