Oh My Lorde!
Author: Gareth Jones
Grammy & BRIT Awards At Just 17 For Lorde
Ella Yelich-O'Connor is Lorde. She is from Auckland, New Zealand, where she was born on 7 November 1996. Her mother is a prize-winning New Zealand poet, and her father a civil engineer. She was raised in suburban Devonport, Auckland with her sisters (Jerry & India) and younger brother (Angelo). When she was 5, Lorde followed her friend into a drama group and discovered a love of singing and acting. Lorde has said she enjoyed how she had to "switch on a different side to myself and become a different me." Lorde's mother encouraged her to read books and is quoted as saying that at age 12 Lorde was reading Raymond Carver and Kurt Vonnegut and at 14 she was proofreading her master's thesis.
Lorde attended Belmont Intermediate School, where in 2009 she and friend Louis McDonald won the school's talent show. After seeing her performance at the talent show, McDonald's father sent out recordings of Lorde covering Duffy's hit song "Warwick Avenue" and Pixie Lott's "Mama Do" to various talent scouts. When Lorde was 13, A&R scout Scott Maclachlan signed her to Universal and she began working with a succession of songwriters, initially without success. Maclachlan told HitQuarters: "Fundamentally I think she understood that she was going to write her own music but would ultimately need someone to help with the production side of it."
Lorde began writing songs, whilst strumming her guitar, at thirteen and was eventually paired up with writer and producer Joel Little and the partnership clicked. Within a week together the duo had created three songs, including 'Royals'. Lorde's debut EP, The Love Club, was originally posted on SoundCloud in November 2012 and was available for free download. Manager Maclachlan said: "We felt it was a very strong piece of music and thought, let's just put it out and worry about the money later ... When it got to 60,000 free downloads the record company said, we have to stop now." A music supervisor in the United States heard the EP and played it to Lava Records CEO Jason Flom who subsequently wanted to meet Lorde and sign her to his Universal subsidiary label. Flom played the EP to Sean Parker who loved it and added 'Royals' to his very influential Spotify playlist Hipster International. Flom said: "We saw an immediate reaction around the world ... It was the first spark that lit the blaze of attention and activity that culminated in Lorde’s incredible album debut."
Officially released digitally in March 2013 and on CD in May 2013, The Love Club EP features five songs, including the number one hit 'Royals'. 'Royals' debuted as a single at number 1 on the New Zealand Top 40 on 15 March 2013 and remained in the top position for three weeks. On 8 May 2013, The Love Club EP debuted in the number 2 position on the album chart. In August 2013, with 'Royals', Lorde became the first female in 17 years to top the US Billboard Alternative Songs chart, since Tracy Bonham with her 1996-hit, 'Mother Mother'. Following the release of 'Royals' in the United States in June 2013, 85,000 copies were sold during a single week in July. In a subsequent interview, Lorde stated, "I had a sneaking suspicion that it might do all right". The song also reached number 1 in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 (nine weeks at number one), as well as the Alternative charts and the Rock charts. With "Royals", Lorde became the first solo artist from New Zealand to top the US Hot 100, and the youngest artist to hold the US number one in more than 25 years.
The 'Tennis Court' single was released in New Zealand on 8 June 2013 and 'The Tennis Court' EP was released digitally in the UK on 7 June 2013 (due to the timezone difference) and in CD format on 22 June. It was played during the BBC Sport coverage of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships – Women's Singles final. On 14 June 2013. 'Tennis Court' debuted at number 1 on the New Zealand Top 40 singles chart. In the same week, she also became the first New Zealand artist to simultaneously have four songs in the top 20 tracks of the New Zealand Top 40. Lorde was the replacement for Frank Ocean, who cancelled because of illness, at the 2013 Splendour in the Grass festival in Byron Bay, Australia, where at just 16 years of age, she performed in front of 10,000 people.
Lorde announced on her Twitter profile, in August 2013, that her debut album Pure Heroine would be released in the US on 30 September 2013. The album's release was preceded by a New Zealand advertising campaign, with its lyrics displayed in classified ads, shop windows, posters and fax broadcast to media offices. In early September 2013, Lorde and co-writer Joel Little were shortlisted for the 2013 Silver Scroll Award—the award honours outstanding achievements in the writing of original New Zealand pop music songs—for 'Royals'. On 15 October, it was announced they had won. In November 2013, Lorde signed a publishing deal with Songs Music Publishing worth a reported $2.5 million after a bidding war between various companies including Sony and her existing label Universal. Lorde was the subject of a Rolling Stone magazine cover story in January 2014, with her pictured wearing a t-shirt of the cover art of The Cramps' album Bad Music for Bad People.
Lorde has received praise for her stage presence, and live performances. Billboard magazine praised Lorde for having a "well-defined stage presence" and a "savvy" and "unflappable attitude". The publication added that her performances contain "confidence and demeanor well beyond her years." Lorde's vocals have also been praised in the live context, with Lorde being called a truly "talented vocalist" who sounds "just like the record". Lorde's stage presence and moves have been described as being "really unique and sort of intense." Lorde described her dancing as a reaction to the way "the music manifests itself" in her body, over which she has no control. Lorde has admitted to feeling embarrassed by her moves, but takes influence from David Byrne, who she says "feels the music, which makes me feel not so bad." In preparation for performances, Lorde purposefully selects clothes that make her feel grand and contain an element of theatricality. For the first of three sold-out New York City shows at the Webster Hall venue, the set design was markedly stark and the singer appeared in an unassuming black dress while her backing band – a drummer and a keyboardist – were complemented by basic spotlights. The New York Times review of the performance stated: "She moved to the beat, but like a teenager, not a music video trouper; her feet sometimes seemed planted to the stage. Lorde wasn’t pretending to be a superhuman pop idol."
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Author: Gareth Jones
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