Wikipedia:This article is about the New Zealand singer. For other uses, see Lorde (disambiguation).Not to be confused with Lordi.
Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor (born 7 November 1996), known by her stage name Lorde, is a New Zealand singer and songwriter. Born in Takapuna and raised in Devonport, Auckland, she became interested in performing as a child. In her early teens, she signed with Universal Music Group and was later paired with the songwriter and record producer Joel Little, who co-wrote and produced most of Lorde's works. Her first major release, The Love Club EP, was commercially released in March 2013. The project charted at number two on the national record charts of Australia and New Zealand.
In mid-2013, Lorde released her debut single "Royals". It became an international crossover hit, peaking atop the US Billboard Hot 100 and eventually made Lorde the youngest solo artist to achieve a US number-one single since Tiffany with her number-one hit "I Think We're Alone Now" in 1987. Later that year, she released her debut studio album, Pure Heroine. The record peaked atop the charts of Australia and New Zealand and charted at number three on the US Billboard 200. Its following singles include "Tennis Court", "Team", "No Better" and "Glory and Gore". In 2014, Lorde released "Yellow Flicker Beat" as a single from the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.
Lorde's music consists of the subgenres of electronica, pop and rock, including dream pop and indietronica. In 2013, she was named among Time 's most influential teenagers in the world, and in the following year, she made her way into Forbes 's "30 Under 30" list.
ContentsLife and career1.1 1996–2008: Early life1.2 2009–11: Career beginnings1.3 2012–13: The Love Club EP and Pure Heroine1.4 2014–present: Second studio album and Mockingjay, Pt. 1 soundtrack
Life and career
1996–2008: Early life
Ella Yelich-O'Connor was born in Takapuna to civil engineer Vic O'Connor and poet Sonja Yelich on 7 November 1996. She was raised in the nearby suburb of Devonport with two sisters (Jerry and India Yelich-O'Connor) and a brother (Angelo Yelich-O'Connor). She has Croatian and Irish ancestry. At age five, joined a drama group and developed public speaking skills. In her secondary years, Lorde attended Belmont Intermediate School. Her mother encouraged her to read a range of books, which Lorde cited as a lyrical influence, "I guess my mum influenced my lyrical style by always buying me books. She'd give me a mixture of kid and adult books too, there weren't really any books I wasn't allowed to read. I remember reading Feed by M.T. Anderson when I was six, and her giving me Salinger and Carver at a young age, and Janet Frame really young too."
2009–11: Career beginnings
On 13 August 2009, Lorde joined her bandmate Louis McDonald for a chat on Jim Mora's Afternoons Radio New Zealand. There, they performed covers of Pixie Lott's "Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh)" and Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody". In that year, they also won the school's annual talent show. McDonald's father Ian sent out his home audio recording of her and Louis McDonald covering Duffy's song "Warwick Avenue", and his home video recording of Lorde and Louis McDonald singing Pixie Lott's "Mama Do", to Universal Music Group (UMG)'s A&R Scott Maclachlan. In 2009 Maclachlan signed her to UMG for development.
In 2010 Lorde and McDonald performed covers live on a regular basis as a duet called "Ella & Louis", playing at The Leigh Sawmill Cafe on 15 August, at Roasted Addiqtion Cafe in Kingsland on 20 August, at The Vic Unplugged at Victoria Theatre, Devonport on 27 October, and at Devonstock in Devonport on 12 December. While working on her music career, she attended Takapuna Grammar School from 2010 to 2013, completing Year Twelve. She later chose not to return in 2014 to finish Year Thirteen.
In 2011, UMG hired vocal coach Frances Dickinson to give Lorde singing lessons twice a week for a year. During this time, she began writing songs and was set up with a succession of songwriters, but without success. At the age of fourteen, Lorde started reading short fiction and learned how to "put words together." She performed her own original songs publicly for the first time at The Vic Unplugged II on the Devonport Victoria Theatre main stage on 16 November 2011. In December 2011, MacLachlan paired Lorde with Joel Little, a songwriter, record producer, and former Goodnight Nurse lead singer. The pair recorded five songs for an EP at Little's Golden Age Studios in Morningside, Auckland, and finished within three weeks.
2012–13: The Love Club EP and Pure Heroine
In November 2012, Lorde self-released the record, entitled The Love Club EP, through her SoundCloud account for free download. After being freely downloaded 60,000 times, UMG decided to commercially release the EP for sales in March 2013. The project peaked at number two on the record charts of New Zealand and Australia. In June of that year, "Royals" was released as a single from the EP. The single became a crossover hit, peaking atop the US Billboard Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks. Consequently, Lorde became the youngest solo artist to achieve a number-one single in the US with "Royals", since Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now" (1987). The track eventually won the 2013 APRA Silver Scroll Award, and two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year at the 2014 Grammy Awards.
In September 2013, Lorde released her debut studio album, Pure Heroine. The album peaked atop the charts of New Zealand and Australia and reached the top five of several national charts, including Canada, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom. In the United States, Pure Heroine peaked at number three on the Billboard 200, and has sold 1.33 million copies. Worldwide, Pure Heroine has sold 1.5 million copies by the end of 2013. The album was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. Pure Heroine was further preceded by four singles. "Tennis Court" was released in June 2013, and topped the New Zealand Singles Chart. The third single, "Team", became a top-ten hit worldwide. "No Better", a song only included on the extended version of Pure Heroine, and "Glory and Gore" were released as the two final singles from the record, respectively. Her cover of Tears for Fears' single "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was included on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire film soundtrack. In November 2013, Lorde signed a publishing deal with Songs Music Publishing worth a reported $2.5 million after a bidding war between various companies including Sony Music Entertainment and her label UMG. The agreement gives the publisher the right to license Lorde's music for films and advertising. Late that year, she also started a relationship with photographer James Lowe.
2014–present: Second studio album and Mockingjay, Pt. 1 soundtrack
In December 2013, Lorde announced that she had begun writing material for her second studio album. In June 2014, Lorde revealed that her second studio album would be "totally different" from her debut album. In the first half of 2014, Lorde headlined various festivals, including the Laneway Festival in Sydney, Australia, the three South American editions of Lollapalooza — Chile in Santiago, Argentina in Buenos Aires, and Brazil in São Paulo — and the Coachella Festival in California.
To promote The Love Club EP and Pure Heroine, Lorde embarked on a tour, with its first leg happening in North America in early 2014. She further announced the Australian leg (which happened in July) and the second North American leg (which took place in August). In April of that year, Lorde performed "All Apologies" with the surviving members of Nirvana during the band's induction ceremony at the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. On 1 August 2014, Lorde performed at the Lollapalooza again in Grant Park, Chicago. The set of Lorde was critically well received, with Billboard picked it as the fifth best performance of the festival, while Rolling Stone deemed it the best segment of the Lollapalooza in Chicago. On 29 September 2014, Lorde released "Yellow Flicker Beat" as the first single from the soundtrack album for the film The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1; Lorde oversaw the organisation of the soundtrack album, and contributed vocals to several of its songs. By her eighteenth birthday in November 2014, it was estimated that Lorde was worth NZ$11 million.Lipshutz, Jason (25 September 2013). "6. Lorde: 21 Under 21 (2013)". Billboard. Retrieved 6 July 2014. Fell, Grant (30 January 2014). "Lorde, the year". Black Magazine. Retrieved 30 August 2014. Ehrlich, Brenna (17 June 2014). "Lorde's Parents Finally Got Engaged — After 30 Years". MTV News. Retrieved 6 July 2014. Cite error: The named reference CoverStory was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Lorde's younger sister makes musical debut". Sydney Morning Herald. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2014. Lorde — Beginnings (VEVO LIFT): Brought To You By McDonald's (interview). Vevo. Youtube. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. Cite error: The named reference Weiner was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Etheridge, Jess (2 August 2013). "Singer now on centre stage: Shore kid makes good at Splendour in the Grass". North Shore Times. 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FlingItAtEm (Ian McDonald) via Eventfinder.co.nz. Retrieved 27 August 2014. Ryan, Charlotte (2 May 2013). "Lorde: Behind the success story". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 May 2013. "She's still our Lorde, say friends". Radio New Zealand. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014. Cite error: The named reference lordevmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cardy, Tom (10 May 2013). "NZ newest pop star". The Dominion Post. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Fusilli, Jim (5 March 2014). "A Young Lorde's Royal Tour". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 9 September 2014. "The Vic Unplugged 2 – Auckland". FlingItAtEm (Ian McDonald) via Eventfinder.co.nz. Retrieved 27 August 2014. Thorne, Richard (October–November 2013). "Joel Little – Rings Of The Lorde (page 2)". NZ Musician 17 (9): 2. Archived from the original on 1 June 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014. "The Love Club EP". ARIA Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 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"'Frozen,' Pharrell Williams Lead Mid-Year SoundScan Charts". Billboard. Retrieved 2 July 2014. "2013 Annual Report – Section 4.2 Commentaires sur les performances opérationnelles des métiers" (PDF) (in French). Vivendi. p. 22. Retrieved 25 February 2014. "Tennis Court – Single by Lorde". New Zealand: iTunes Store. Retrieved 7 June 2013. "Discography Lorde". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 June 2014. "No Better" single release: "No Better – Single by Lorde". Belgium: iTunes Store. Retrieved 8 September 2014. "Glory and Gore" single release: "Future Releases on Alternative Radio Stations". All Access Music Group. Archived from the original on 28 February 2014. "Lorde, Coldplay feature on Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack". 3News. 30 September 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013. Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (13 November 2013). "Lorde signs $2.5m publishing deal, and may write for other artists". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2013. Hampp, Andrew (12 November 2013). "Lorde Signs $2.5 Million Deal with Songs Music Publishing: Inside the Lengthy Bidding War". Billboard. Retrieved 14 November 2013. Roxborough, Scott (27 March 2014). "Lorde's Boyfriend on Singer's accomplishments: 'I Couldn't Be Prouder'". Billboard. Retrieved 9 September 2014. Lang, Nico (11 December 2013). "Dear Internet: Lorde is dating an Asian guy — get over it". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 October 2014. "Lorde Working on New Material, Australian Tour Being Planned". Billboard. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2014. "Lorde: 'My next album will sound totally different'". Digital Spy. 5 June 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2014. "Lorde skips Laneway for Grammys, offers free make-up show". The New Zealand Herald. 9 December 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2014. "Esta pasando. Lo estas viendo". CNN Chile. 1 November 2013. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. "Lorde joins Lollapalooza line-up". The New Zealand Herald. 27 March 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 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ContentsArtistry1.1 Influences1.2 Musical style1.3 Songwriting and lyrics
InfluencesLorde cites Grimes (left) and Fleetwood Mac (right) as two of her prominent musical influences
Lorde grew up listening to American soul musicians Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Etta James and Otis Redding, whose music Lorde admires for "harvesting their suffering." Additionally, she listened to her parents' favourite records by the likes of Cat Stevens, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac in her early years. Among those records, Lorde deemed Rumours by Fleetwood Mac as "a perfect record." She cites the unusual vocals of Grimes, band Sleigh Bells and producer SBTRKT as her prominent influences. Furthermore, Lorde names Thom Yorke as an influence for his "smart" way of using his voice, as well as Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar for their "sassy" tone. Other inspirations for Lorde include Lana Del Rey, James Blake, Yeasayer, Animal Collective, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Jamie Woon, Arcade Fire, Kurt Vonnegut, Laurie Anderson, Kanye West and Prince.
She cites rapper J. Cole and electronic producers as influences, saying that she was impressed by "their vocals in a really interesting way, whether it might be chopping up a vocal part or really lash or layering a vocal." Lorde also states that she was inspired by the initially hidden identities of Burial and The Weeknd, explaining, "I feel like mystery is more interesting". She names her mother, a poetess, as the main influence for her songwriting skill. In addition, Lorde names several authors including Raymond Carver, Wells Tower, Tobias Wolff, Claire Vaye Watkins, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman and T. S. Eliot as lyrical inspirations – particularly noting their sentence structures.
Music critics opine that Lorde's music is drawn from subgenres of electronica, pop, rock: specifically art pop, indie pop, dream pop, electropop and indietronica. Multiple reviewers also note the influences of hip hop and R&B on Lorde's releases. In a review for Consequence of Sound, Jon Hadusek details the minimal production on Lorde's music "allows [her] to sing any melody she wants, layering them over one another to create a choral effect." Jason Lipshutz of Billboard shares that her works features deep bass rumbles, lilting loops and programmed beats. Paul Lester from The Guardian compares Lorde's music to that of Sky Ferreira, Lana Del Rey, Grimes and Eliza Doolittle.
Lorde is an alto; however, on "Royals", she performs with a mezzo-soprano vocal range. Lorde writes her music vocally and does not play musical instruments on her records or onstage. She states that her main focus is her voice, elaborating, "I don't play any instruments, so my voice needs to have the focus. My vocal-scape is really important." PopMatters's Evan Sawdey describes Lorde's vocals as being "unique and powerfully intriguing." Jason Lipshutz of Billboard praises her vocals for being "dynamic, smoky and restrained." Lester characterises Lorde's vocals as "sweet, sultry and sour", while James Lachno from The Daily Telegraph details the singer's voice as "twitchy electro." In an article for The AV Club, Kevin McFarland writes that "[Lorde's] voice is the alpha and omega of her talent. She has the presence and vocal development of singers more than twice her age. Her voice isn’t booming or overpowering, but rather mystifying and alluring, both floating on its own in a sea of reverb and digital blips and awash in an army of chorused overdubs."
Songwriting and lyrics
Talking about her collaboration with Joel Little, Lorde shares that Little's refining her "raw potential to end up with [the music]" was one of the best aspects of him. She also views Little as "the only one who was working with electronic music in the way [she] was interested in at the time." Lorde details that her songs are shaped by her lyrics, which she felt as a "more cohesive way of working." She said, "I tend to start with lyrics – sometimes the seed of a song will just be a word that I thought was rad, one that summed up a particular idea I’d been trying to pin down." Nonetheless, she points out that the songwriting process of "Tennis Court" was different to how she normally writes a song: the lyrics are built on the instant music and beat.
The lyrical content of her two first major releases, The Love Club EP and Pure Heroine, criticises mainstream popular culture. Lindsay Zoladz from Pitchfork Media noted that Lorde expressed her indifference towards modern-day's culture, further explaining that "Lorde has introduced herself to the world as someone who gives very few fucks." On behalf of Rolling Stone, critic Jonah Weiner also noted the typical themes of teen pop music, including "social anxiety, romantic yearning, debilitating ennui [and] booze-soaked ragers." Jim Pickney from the New Zealand Listener writes that Lorde's lyrics are structured in a short story manner and praised that her songwriting ability "combines unmistakably teenage confusion, curiosity and confidence with word skills beyond her years."Cite error: The named reference BlackMagazine was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference telegraph1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Lorde (2 October 2013). Influences (VEVO LIFT): Brought to You by McDonald's. Interview with VEVO. VEVO. Lorde (20 August 2013). Lorde In-Studio with Kennedy. Interview with Lisa Kennedy Montgomery. KYSR. 2:58. Lachno, James (11 September 2013). "Lorde – New Music". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 September 2013. Pinckney, Jim (3 October 2013). "Lorde moves in mysterious ways". New Zealand Listener. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Lewis, Casey. "Get to Know Lorde, the 16-Year-Old Pop Star Everyone's Talking About". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 6 July 2014. Weiner, Jonah (28 October 2013). "Lorde: The Rise of Pop's Edgiest Teen". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 16 December 2013. Simpson, Leah (5 November 2013). "Lorde 'I relate to Kanye West and I feel intimidated by teenage girls'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 5 November 2013. Cowley, Pip. "Lorde Q&A". V Music Australia. Retrieved 16 December 2013. Michelson, Noah (24 July 2013). "Lorde, 16-Year-Old New Zealand Musician, Talks 'Royals' Video, Feminism And More". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 January 2014. Cite error: The named reference CoverStory was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Lorde (18 September 2013). ZMTV – Lorde Interview (Polly Speaks to Lorde Before The iHeartRadio NZ Launch). Interview with Polly Gillespie. ZM. 2:18. Selby, Jenn (28 October 2013). "Lorde Royals Pure Heroine Interview". Glamour. Retrieved 16 December 2013. "50 Best Songs of 2013: #15 – Lorde: 'Royals'". Spin. Retrieved 10 June 2013. Lester, Paul (7 June 2013). "New band of the day: Lorde (No. 1,528)". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2014. Wheeler, Brad (7 October 2013). "In an age of manufactured stars, Lorde is a refreshing change". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 15 June 2014. Blake, Emily (11 July 2013). "Selena Gomez Hits Back At Lorde: 'That's Not Feminism'". MTV News. Retrieved 6 July 2014. Sawdey, Evan (10 October 2013). "Lorde: Pure Heroine". PopMatters. Retrieved 1 July 2014. Ramos, Mike (20 September 2013). "Decibel Festival bigger but true to its roots". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 10 August 2014. Mahoney, Stan (8 July 2014). "Lorde review — voice of the generation, with a dash of gold lamé and confetti". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2014. Maine, Sammy (24 October 2013). "Album Review: Lorde – Pure Heroine". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 8 September 2014. Wright, Lisa (1 November 2013). "Lorde – Pure Heroine / New Album Reviews". The Fly. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Hadusek, Jon (30 September 2013). "Lorde – Pure Heroine | Album Reviews". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 9 September 2014. Lipshutz, Jason (25 September 2013). "Lorde, 'Pure Heroine' Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved 9 September 2014. Krewen, Nick (1 October 2013). "Lorde's Pure Heroine is auspicious debut". Toronto Star. Retrieved 9 September 2014. Ryzik, Melena (20 May 2014). "Mutual Admiration, Across the Sea, Across the Years". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2014. Darwin, Liza (27 June 2013). "Meet Lorde: She's a Talented Teenage Badass". Vice. Retrieved 16 December 2013. McFarland, Kevin (8 October 2013). "Lorde: Pure Heroine • Music Review". The AV Club. Retrieved 8 September 2014. Patel, Puja (10 September 2013). "Lorde's Different Kind of Buzz: A Chat with the 'Royals' Phenom". Spin. Retrieved 23 November 2014. Lorde (2013). Lyrical Influences (VEVO LIFT): Brought to You By McDonald's (video). VEVO/YouTube. Event occurs at 1:49. Retrieved 22 November 2013. I think my writing process with "Tennis Court" was quite different to how I normally write. Generally, I will have a lyric forming before I go into the studio. But with this one, we wrote the music and beat before we wrote anything lyrically Zoladz, Lindsay (3 October 2013). "Lorde: Pure Heroine | Album Reviews". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
Lorde chose her stage name because she was fascinated with "royals and aristocracy". However, she felt the name Lord was too masculine, thus she added an "e" to make it more feminine. She described her public image as coming "naturally" to her. Her music is noted for the manner in which its view of pop culture is contrasted with that of her contemporaries, such as Miley Cyrus and Rihanna. Lorde is a self-identified feminist.
In a November 2013 interview with , Lorde expressed frustration about "certain things about music": "There are a lot of shock tactics these days. People trying to outdo each other, which will probably culminate in two people fucking on stage at the Grammys." Following the release of Pure Heroine, she also described herself as a "sex-positive" person, elaborating:
People like to paint me in a certain way, but I'm a hugely sex-positive person and I have nothing against anyone getting naked. For me personally I just don't think it really would complement my music in any way or help me tell a story any better. It's not like I have a problem with dancing around in undies—I think you can use that stuff in a hugely powerful way. It just hasn't felt necessary for me.
In June 2014, Lorde released a two-piece make-up limited edition collection in collaboration with MAC Cosmetics, consisting of a lipstick titled after her debut album, Pure Heroine, and an eyeliner. She filmed a video for the Electoral Commission to encourage voter turnout of young people at the 2014 New Zealand general election, despite being too young to vote at the time.
In November 2013, Lorde was included in Time 's list of the most influential teenagers in the world, with Mark Metcalfe from the publication commenting that she was "forging her own path." In January 2014, Forbes placed Lorde on their "30 Under 30" list of young people "who are changing our world." Additionally, she was the youngest individual to be featured on the list. In October of that year, Lorde was included in the list "The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014" by Time. Billboard named Lorde "The New Queen of Alternative". Britney Spears named Lorde as an influence, commenting that her music "[is] really different and cool."Weber, Lindsey (6 November 2013). "Lorde 101: Who Is This 16-Year-Old Singer?". New York. Retrieved 16 December 2013. Harvey, Sarah (29 December 2013). "Lorde keeps it real about sex appeal". Stuff.co.nz. Archived from the original on 27 June 2014. Zadeh, Joe (11 October 2013). "Lorde – Pure Heroine | Reviews". Clash. Retrieved 10 March 2014. Overell, Rosemary (31 January 2014). "Lorde makes feminism a class issue". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 July 2014. "Lorde says sex on stage the next step for pop stars". The New Zealand Herald. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2014. Defebaugh, William. "Praise the Lorde!". . Retrieved 19 September 2014. Hemphill, Meg (10 June 2014). "Lorde & MAC: What Makes the Perfect Partnership Between Brand & Musician?". Billboard. Retrieved 9 September 2014. Bilby, Lynley (22 June 2014). "Lorde wants youths to make themselves heard". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 22 June 2014. McAllen, Jess (29 July 2014). "Get out and vote, Lorde urges youth". Stuff.co.nz (Fairfax New Zealand). Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Metcalfe, Mark (12 November 2013). "Lorde, 17 | The 16 Most Influential Teens of 2013". Time. Retrieved 9 September 2013. "Lorde is 'changing our world' says Forbes". The New Zealand Herald. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014. "Lorde, 17". Forbes. Retrieved 9 September 2014. "The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014". Time. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2014. Lipshutz, Jason (6 September 2013). "Lorde: The Billboard Cover Story". Billboard. Retrieved 20 June 2014. Cava, Marco (29 December 2013). "Who inspires Britney? Beyonce, Bruno and her ex JT". USA Today. Retrieved 3 June 2014.