This fall signaled the rise of a new indie-pop queen. Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor, better known as Lorde, has cemented herself as a Billboard force by snatching the #1 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 with her single, “Royals.” This 16-year-old Kiwi frolicked past major musical icons to take her seat at the top. Eminem, Avicii, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry have all slid down the Billboard ladder to make room for this “Love Club” crooner. Lorde’s rise to power has seemed almost immediate. Her songs have infiltrated the music scene in what seems like–days. With her newly established celebrity platform, Lorde has taken to openly criticizing pop culture and the music of today by firing disdain in the directions of various celebrities including Lana Del Rey and Selena Gomez.
“Royals” highlights the pretentiousness of the Hollywood lifestyle by contrasting it with the singer’s personal, “humble” demeanor. When asked about the inspiration for her smash hit, Lorde spewed her signature, critical cynicism.
“What really got me is this ridiculous, unrelatable, unattainable opulence that runs throughout. Lana Del Rey is always singing about being in the Hamptons or driving her Bugatti Veyron or whatever, and at the time, me and my friends were at some house party worrying how to get home because we couldn’t afford a cab,” says Lorde.
Lana Del Rey’s music does encircle subjects such as the glamorous Hamptons life; however, it’s important to remember that Lana Del Rey is a satirical character of sorts. Lana, born Lizzie Grant, was the product of a wealthy NYC family. Despite her “posh” routes, Lana u-turned in terms of her “royal” upbringing. Del Rey has battled addiction, checked into rehab programs, and immersed herself within various underground, New York crowds that some would deem “beneath” her. The character of “Lana Del Rey” can be seen as a broken, tattered product of the wealth machine and upper-class elitism. Inspired by the likes of icons such as Marilyn Monroe, Lana strives to incorporate the theme of darkness-infused beauty into her works. Like Monroe, Del Rey presents a sparkly, “old Hollywood” external persona while enduring inner demons and their crippling natures. Her song, “Gods and Monsters,” can be viewed as an insight into the struggle of growing up in a world where perfection, poise, and grace are expected. She sings:
In the land of Gods and Monsters
I was an Angel
Living in the garden of evil
Screwed up, scared, doing anything that I needed
Shining like a fiery beacon
You got that medicine I need
Fame, Liquor, Love, give it to me slowly
These struggle-soaked lyrics illustrate the pressure of class and status rather than the egotistical, boastful extravagance that Lorde interprets.
Likewise, Lorde has unleashed criticism upon Selena Gomez and her pop smash, “Come & Get It” by dubbing it as “sexist.” Lorde’s snap provoked scorn from Gomez fans and music enthusiasts alike who believed the comment was unnecessary. The New Zealand native reloaded her statement and instead bashed the industry’s response to criticism, saying,
“I think there’s a funny culture in music that’s only happened over the last 15 years, that if you have an opinion about something in music that isn’t 100% good, you’re a ‘hater.’ Even if you have perfectly reasonable grounds for that critique. People will say exactly what they think about a movie or a TV show, and that’s fine, but as soon as you say it about a record, you’re like some little zombie in a funny dungeon. I have pretty strong morals and opinions being in pop music, and I can’t help but express those, which I think people appreciate. […] Most of the time I will stand by things that I’ve said.”
Selena’s song may be interpreted as a wrongful portrayal of women and their thirst for companionship; however, does Lorde have the right to openly criticize what she deems “good” music? Expressing opinions on artists and their morals should be completely acceptable, but criticism has its limit. If artists exalt themselves while “critiquing,” their commentary becomes petty. Music is indeed a subjective art form. Some people adore Justin Bieber and his music. Some hate him intensely; however, proclaiming that his music is “bad” is relatively unfair. That music may not impress one person, but it may enthrall many others. Thus, Lorde’s constant commentary on her fellow artists is somewhat uncalled for.
In response to Lorde’s cascade of commentary, “Want U Back” singer Cher Lloyd took the stand for her fellow pop stars. “Why does she have to go and do that? She’s doing so well, what a knob. […] She’s sitting at number one. I think she’s going to eat her words, which she obviously already has, and I think for someone who’s gaining so much success so early, she should be considering herself lucky, it takes a lot of work,” says Lloyd to J-14.
Lloyd brings up a good point, “Why does she have to go and do that?” Currently, Lorde is sitting at the precipice of fame and success. Her “disses” come off more egotistical than any Lana Del Rey song. Thus, I think it’s safe to assume that Lorde is a royally rude “knob” (whatever that is).