Ella Yelich-O’Connor is 16, she’s from New Zealand, and she’s holding her own in perhaps the most competitive autumn in the history of pop music, in which the likes of Miley, Britney, Gaga and Katy Perry have all dropped singles. You probably know Yelich-O'Connor better as Lorde. Suffice to say, she’s living up to her name, and ruling the charts.
Her debut album, Pure Heroine, was just released. Lead single "Royals" is an earworm; it's unlike anything else on the airwaves, and you won't be able to get it out of your head. Lorde is young and free, and her youthful exuberance is on full display on the album’s 10 tracks.
Here are the seven lyrics from Pure Heroine that perfectly capture what it feels like to be young.
1. “I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh. / I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies.”
The opening verse of “Royals” is wham-bam clever, and it’s just the beginning of a song that chirps at the rampant materialism in pop music today. Let’s be realistic, how many of us millennials actually are popping Cristal and driving Maybachs?
2. “It’s a new art form showing people how little we care. (Yeah.) / We’re so happy even when we’re smilin’ out of fear.”
"Tennis Court," Lorde's second single, is just as spunky as her first. She has an amazing ability to convey the complex, and sometimes contradictory, emotions of youth. Sometimes, a confident front is just that: armor hiding a weakness.
3. “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air. / So, yeah.”
Lorde’s third single, "Team," is in full attack mode, and is sharper in comparison to her earlier, sassier releases. Her dig at the generic pop music call to throw your hands up in the air is inspired, and demonstrates how maturity and youth can go hand in hand.
4. “The men up on the news / They try to tell us all that we will lose / But it’s so easy in this blue / Where everything is good.”
Aside from having one of the best song titles in a long time, "Buzzcut Season" perfectly captures the invincibility of youth. Lorde is alert and aware throughout her album, but sometimes, when you are young, all that matters is the here and now, not the rest of the world around you.
5. “Chance is the only game we play with. / We let our battles choose us.”
"Glory and Gore" is an ode to what we can control — and what we can’t — when we are young, but it's more self-aware than it is cynical. Lorde demonstrates a sort of refined maturity throughout "Pure Heroine," perfectly embodying the notion that in today’s social-media-focused digital age, we’re growing up faster than ever.
6. “I’ll let you in on something big: / I am not a white-teeth teen. / I tried to join, but never did.”
On "White Teeth Teens," Lorde tackles the omnipresent caste system of teenage cliques in a fresh way. She doesn’t try to come across as edgy or fake. She doesn’t try too hard. Like "Royals," this track perfectly encapsulates a universal feeling.
7. “We’ve both got a million bad habits to kick. Not sleeping is one. / We’re biting our nails. You’re biting my lip. I’m biting my tongue.”
If you want a Cinderella story, listen to Taylor Swift. If you want the real deal, Lorde is your girl. On "A World Alone," the Kiwi songstress deftly chronicles the ups and downs of teenage love. She doesn’t try to oversell or mythologize anything. Her take on young love is raw and real.