The New Zealand singer Ella Yelich-O’Connor, who goes by the name of Lorde, is a 16 year old with the wisdom of an octogenarian, who, as The New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones put it in magazine’s October 21st, 2013 issue, is “a teen-ager from Auckland, with an unnatural gift” who “has entered the suit-infested ruins of the music business with the confidence of a veteran and the skills of a prodigy. She is less a flashy new mansion in the suburbs, Frere Jones writes, “than an architectural gem in a tony neighborhood.”
Frere-Jones calls Lorde’s current number one single, “Royals,” perfect, and “Pure Heroine,” the album of which it is part, nearly so, but what rivets about his article, and has me poised to careen towards the first Lorde-inhabited venue I can find, is his description of her first ever U.S. show, which took place in August in New York at at (Le) Poisson Rouge, a small Greenwich Village night club. He writes:
The show was packed, and the V.I.P. area was unusually full, especially with older men. I’d never seen such clamor or crowding at this venue. Dressed in a black vest over a sheer black floor-length dress, Lorde played with the drummer Ben Barter and the keyboardist James McDonald. Her voice is low, casual, and it sounded strong and effortless, neither dramatically loud nor tentative in pitch. She displayed no visible nervousness, and there was a sense of mutual testing, as if she were gathering information about us as much as we were about her. Halfway through the eleven-song set, a man with white hair, dressed in a silver suit, turned to a companion, pointed to the stage, and, implying a big payday in Lorde’s future, said, “Zeroes. Lots and lots of zeroes.
Lorde is already under my skin. “Royals” is an anthem for those who live or want to live for the deeper things in life and not just the baubles at the surface. She, like the generation rising, seems to know what life is for. She lacks the impulse, it seems, to measure herself against anyone else’s yardstick. She is herself, and she knows there’s no arguing with that.
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PAULA PURYEAR is a Lawyer, Film & Television writer, HuffPoster and Founder of Revel In It Mag.