Saturday, November 16, 2013

Let's Talk About Lorde

Recently I decided that it wasn't just enough to watch her music videos, turn the volume way up whenever her songs were on the radio, and listen to the Love Club EP repeatedly online. I had to buy her physical album, "Pure Heroine", to experience her brilliance in even more detail.

I think she's great. Let's start with this album. The album cover is this:

Well that seems rather boring doesn't it? Lazy minimalist design. It's just the album title in white on black background. "Boo!" you cry from within the crowd. "Why is that good?"

I'll tell you why it's good: because the title is a sheer bit of brilliance. "Pure Heroine" sounds (and looks) just like "Pure Heroin" and that's exactly what I mistook it for when I first glanced. I had to look twice and Googled it to make sure everything was correct. Yes. It is called "Pure Heroine." That is not a mistake. See, that's the first thing, and only thing, you notice, and that in itself is enough to go "whoa, wait, what?" It's even more eye catching when you know she's only 17. "Why is a teenager making an album based off drugs? What?" Album covers need to grab your attention and we've got off to a good start by doing that simply with two words instead of a fancy image and that not only is a brilliant bit of design but it represents Lorde's music quite well too.

Her music is driven by her voice. There's a beat going underneath her voice to give it a bit of depth but really we're listening to the nuances in her voice (the opening of "Team" is just beautiful). I feel covers of her songs really fall flat in that they just don't have the right wonderful sonorous quality. They copy the music but it's her voice that really makes those songs. I heard a remix of one of her songs and it was just her sped up and homogenized into a steady factory setting dance beat and it was like someone punched music in the face. That works for other songs but her work it is a quick and easy way to destroy it it. It ruined the point of it entirely. It's soft, it's relaxing, it's a short story with a minimalist music accompaniment, and it's enjoyable.

I wish I could make music like this. She proves that teenagers are capable of being talented. Of course everyone is amazed by her age as if talented people don't exist under the age of 23 and admittedly there are fewer well crafted musicians at her age. I don't want to disregard the talent of many teenagers out there (who are super amazing, just not famous), but I do found her quite amazing despite her youth.

She is a teenage girl and with this comes a bunch of assumptions and stereotypes. I was listening to the radio (horrifying, I know, but it is how I discovered her music so it's not all bad) and Smallzy on Nova was interviewing her in some exclusive first Australian interview or whatever gimmick I'm not entirely sure is true ("first" in advertising generally means "one of the first"). I listened to that station waiting for that interview, listened to horrible music, terrible ads, and endured even though the interview got later and later after its supposed start time. Finally she was on and all the questions were very basic things, nothing even within spying distance of groundbreaking but there was this one question that screamed "so... you're a teenage girl huh?"

They asked which one Lorde would prefer as a boyfriend: Harry Styles or Justin Bieber. Her response was "aww yuck! They can have each other!" That was such a puerile question that played on the idea that all teenage girls are screaming adoring fans for manufactured pop icons and she shut it right down. She had more important things to do than fawn over them as if they were the only two boys in the world. I heard that and thought "I am young but I am not a screaming fangirl. I am not your stereotype." I loved it. That first interview gave such a great impression of her personality despite the basic questions thrown at her.

Getting to know her personality seems to be part of her marketing. If you look at her VEVO account on Youtube you'll find a series of videos that aren't music videos but just short videos of her talking about her life, her inspirations, music, and life as a musician, edited with footage in short documentary format bits of entertainment. This certainly isn't limited to her, but it's an interesting way to get to "know" the musician. She's from a small country that people know of but, outside of Lord of the Rings, does not really hold the global spotlight very often. It minimises distance, erases unfamiliarity. She's there on our screens, talking, wandering around, being a teenager - and a down to Earth one at that. It's not just about connecting with her but we see her as a pretty level headed and calm individual who is fascinated by her fame and hasn't let it get to her ego like other teenage singers (you know who they are). "Don't worry, she's young, but she's not one of those reckless and ego-centric teens who turn into dicks when they get fame that you're all scared of and horribly judge constantly."

So she's got an unusually brilliant debut album cover, her music is amazing (and I have listened to the whole album more times than the amount of days I've owned it), and she is not the negative stereotype of a famous teenager or a teenage girl. This isn't the point where I deride every other musicians out there and say some cry along the lines of "finally! Music is saved!" Music is fine. She may be called Lorde but she is not some saviour for a cynical generation of disillusioned people who think music has gone downhill (despite what some people will try and convince you in the comments section under music videos - that is, when they're not complaining about the new Youtube comments section). But I do think she is brilliant and I look forward to many great things from her. We have one album from her and already I wish she'd make another one.

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