Lorde Pure Heroine

[Universal; 2013]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: development deals, young-adult confessional, retroactive 5/5 for Born to Die
Others: not Lana Del Rey, Lana Del Rey, edgy Taylor Swift, Grimes, High School

“Lorde, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, was discovered when she was twelve years old by an A&R representative from Universal who saw a video of her at a school talent show singing a cover of Duffy’s ‘Warwick Avenue’. Shortly after, Lorde signed a development deal with Universal and has since been developing her sound and image. Now the singer is ready to break free and has already come out with a bang by climbing directly to the top of the charts. And ‘lorde’ knows, this girl is only getting started.”


“[But] I listened to that Lana Del Rey record and the whole time I was just thinking it’s so unhealthy for young girls to be listening to, you know: “I’m nothing without you.” This sort of shirt-tugging, desperate, don’t leave me stuff. That’s not a good thing for young girls, even young people, to hear.”
– Lorde

Here we go again.

01. Lorde doesn’t want to be compared to Lana Del Rey. I understand why this is the case: Lana Del Rey was a faulty product.

02. During the height of the “Great Recession,” Universal Music Group unveiled an artist who epitomized the mythology of American success. Needless to say, it didn’t settle well.

03. There were superficial problems with Lana Del Rey, sure, with bogus questions surrounding “authenticity” being the most oft repeated. But the deeper problem, the one that no one really talked about, was her irrelevance. She was singing about luxury products and wealth and celebrity ennui to: (a) young people without access, or to (b) young people with access and (therefore) self-hatred. Lana Del Rey must’ve been presented at the wrong focus group, because almost no one sleeping in Zuccotti Park or back at home after college (and/or debt ridden and/or jobless and/or whatever) aspired toward the image she was selling them.

03.5. Worse, no one actually fetishizing Lana on various social networks was presumed to have the resoluteness to leave their computers behind for more than an hour or so.

04. Think and Grow Rich never became a best seller on account of Lana Del Rey’s or Mitt Romney’s, um, success.

05. The truth is that it was all a big mess. With the exception of the surprising success of the terrible remix of “Summertime Sadness” — a song I genuinely otherwise like in its original form — she’s all but totally faded into the background (for now). I guess it’s really all the drama she could’ve possibly dreamed of.

06. I sometimes wonder if planned obsolescence exists in the corporate music world, too. Eventually, unless the artist grows up with their art (few examples), the gimmick dies hard, and fast, and young (countless examples). And, all the time, younger models replace older models. Quickly, constantly.

07. Anyway, I wonder, because Lorde is employed by the same music corporation as Lana Del Rey, and shares with Lana a similar — but crucially not-identical — story. That, and new models are never that different from the older ones.

Things that Lorde sings about that Lana Del Rey also sings about: boredom, ambition, being young, buying things, high school, success and being famous (conspicuously before any commercial success is actually achieved), fading away, I/me/etc., [general hip hop tropes], driving, fantasy, summer, destruction, working hard, “Everything I say falls right back/ Into everything I’m not” (Lorde), partying, being alone.

Things that Lorde sings about that Lana Del Rey does not sing about: not letting stuff own you, we, suburbs, wearing long-sleeve shirts, orange juice, being middle-class, “didn’t come from money,” taking public transportation, walking home, home, growing up, laughing, watching TV, the future, “we let our battles choose us,” the internet.

Things that Lorde sings about that Lana Del Rey also sings about but Lorde sings about them differently: drugs, jewelry, alcohol, tigers, brands, friendship, domination, love, cola.

The difference between Lorde’s and Lana Del Rey’s net worth: negligible.

How you know if Lorde is right for you? Your existence is affirmed by the following lyric: “I’ll let you in on something big/ I am not a white teeth teen/ I tried to join but never did.”

07.5. UMG is very likely already dreaming about Lorde’s replacement. (Isn’t that a sad thought?)

07. The narcissistic wounding is incurred as soon as you realize that, then, they don’t care about appealing to you, dear reader, either.

06. She’s not going to be young forever, you know.

05.5. In 5 years, no one will remember her references, anyway.

05. She will disappear into a network of signs and half-remembrances.

04. In 1 year (tops), no one will want to hear “Royals” ever again.

03. She will become an obsessional annoyance to some; they will send unbearably cruel messages to her over Twitter. (They’ve already started.) Some will stalk her long after the fact.

02. She will become a brand, a biopic in training, a fall and a whisper, a legacy children will fight over. I bet someone has already started writing her obituary.

01. So in the end (which is really just Lorde’s prelude), I wonder what it must feel like knowing you’re just the opening act at a never-ending show?

Links: Lorde - Universal

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