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Lorde in a black outfit and smiling
Lorde at the 2014 Sydney Laneway Festival
Background information
Birth nameElla Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor
Born(1996-11-07) 7 November 1996 (age 17)
Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand
Years active2012–present
Associated actsJoel Little
  (Redirected from Ella Yelich-O'Connor)
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This article is about the New Zealand singer-songwriter. For other uses, see Lorde (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Lordi.
Lorde in a black outfit and smiling
Lorde at the 2014 Sydney Laneway Festival
Background information
Birth nameElla Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor
Born(1996-11-07) 7 November 1996 (age 17)
Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand
Years active2012–present
Associated actsJoel Little

Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor[1] (born 7 November 1996), known by her stage name Lorde, is a New Zealand singer-songwriter. Born in Takapuna and raised in Devonport, Auckland, she became interested in performing as a child. At age 13 she signed with Universal Music Group and was later paired with songwriter and record producer Joel Little. Her debut work The Love Club EP was commercially released in March 2013 and included the song "Royals", which became an international crossover hit and won two Grammy Awards. Her first studio album, Pure Heroine, was released in September 2013 to generally positive reviews and commercial success.

Life and career

Early life

Yelich-O'Connor was born on 7 November 1996[2] in Takapuna[3] to poet Sonja Yelich and civil engineer Vic O'Connor.[4] She was raised in the nearby suburb of Devonport[5][6][7] with two sisters and a brother.[8] She is of Croatian and Irish ancestry.[9] At age 5, Lorde followed her friend into a drama group and discovered a love of singing and acting.[10] Yelich-O'Connor's mother encouraged her to read a range of books, which Yelich-O'Connor claimed as a lyrical influence:

I guess my mum influenced my lyrical style by always buying me books. She’d give me a mixture of kid and adult books too, there weren’t really any books I wasn’t allowed to read. I remember reading Feed by M.T. Anderson when I was six, and her giving me Salinger and Carver at a young age, and Janet Frame really young too.[10][3][11]

Reflecting on her homelife and childhood, Yelich-O'Connor said: "We had a big backyard and a sandpit and a lot of animals and books and paints. It was good."[3]

Yelich-O'Connor's unique gift as a singer was noticed and encouraged early in her teens by Devonport resident Ian McDonald, who organised a live radio interview and performance (in a duet with guitarist-son Louis), on Jim Mora's 'Afternoons' show on Radio New Zealand, on August 13, 2009.[12]

Yelich-O'Connor attended Belmont Intermediate School,[13] where in 2009 she and friend Louis McDonald won the school's annual talent show.[14] After seeing her performance at the talent show, McDonald's father sent out recordings of Lorde covering Duffy's song "Warwick Avenue" and Pixie Lott's "Mama Do" to Scott Maclachlan at Universal Music.[11] When Lorde was 13, A&R scout Scott Maclachlan signed her to Universal Music Group (UMG) for development. UMG hired vocal coach Frances Dickinson to give her singing lessons twice a week for a year[15][16] and she began working with a succession of songwriters but without success.[17][18] 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." [17]

In 2010 Yelich-O'Connor continued to perform covers live on a regular basis with McDonald in the duet called "Ella & Louis". They played many shows during that year, including The Leigh Sawmill Cafe on 15 August,[19] and "The Vic Unplugged" at Devonport's newly refurbished Victoria Theatre, on 27 October.[20] Their final performance as "Ella & Louis" was at Devonstock in Devonport on 12 December.[21]

Yelich-O'Connor finished a productive year in 2011 by performing her own original songs publicly for the first time at "The Vic Unplugged II" at the Devonport Victoria Theatre on 16 November.[22]

2011–13: The Love Club EP and Pure Heroine

In December 2011, MacLachlan paired Lorde with Joel Little, a songwriter, record producer and former Goodnight Nurse lead singer.[23] The pair recorded five songs for an EP at Little's Golden Age Studios in Morningside, Auckland, and finished within three weeks.[23] In an interview with New Zealand Listener, Lorde explained the EP, "It was basically all me, that stuff. I've always been frustrated with that misalignment, because with a pop star you know everything about them all the time [...] Whereas you get someone like Burial – you don’t know what he looks like, but it’s awesome his music can be such a big thing but it’s only the music... and it frustrates me that those two can’t mesh at all. It was more like ‘I don’t really want to do a photo shoot yet’, and then everyone made a big deal of it".[24] Lorde chose her stage name because she was fascinated with "royals and aristocracy", but feeling that the name Lord was too masculine, she added an 'e' to make it more feminine.[25]

In November 2012, Lorde self-released The Love Club EP through her SoundCloud account for free download.[7] After being freely downloaded 60,000 times, UMG decided to commercially release the EP for sales.[17] On 8 March 2013, The Love Club EP was released digitally in Australia,[26] New Zealand,[27] and the United States.[28] The release peaked at number two in New Zealand and Australia.[29] It was eventually certified septuple platinum in Australia and platinum in New Zealand.[30][31] On 7 June 2013, Lorde released her second EP, Tennis Court EP, comprising four songs.[32]

Lorde during the Decibel Festival in Seattle, Washington, September 2013

"Royals" was released as a single from the EP on 3 June 2013.[33] The song debuted on Australian radio on the alternative music radio station triple j—where it gained significant momentum—eventually receiving airplay on more mainstream networks before peaking at number two on the ARIA Singles Chart. In August 2013, with "Royals" became the first song by a female lead artist in 17 years to top the US Alternative Songs chart since Tracy Bonham's "Mother Mother" in 1996.[6] The song became a crossover hit and topped the US Hot 100 chart in October 2013.[34][35] With "Royals", Lorde became the youngest artist in over twenty-five years, and the first solo artist ever from New Zealand, to top the US Hot 100.[36] It also topped the UK Singles Chart and the Canadian Hot 100.[37][38] "Royals" was critically well-received, as it won the 2013 APRA Silver Scroll Award, a New Zealand songwriting award,[39] and the Grammy Awards for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year at the 2014 ceremony.[40] Lorde became the third youngest winner in Grammy history and the youngest winner from New Zealand. She also became the youngest person to be nominated for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.[41][42][43]

On 27 September 2013, Lorde released her debut studio album, Pure Heroine.[44] The album peaked atop the charts of New Zealand and Australia and reached the top five of charts in Canada, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom.[45][46] In the United States, Pure Heroine peaked at number three on the Billboard 200,[47] and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),[48] having sold 1.33 million copies.[49] The album was well received by music critics,[50] and was nominated for a Grammy,[40] and sold 1.5 million copies by the end of 2013.[51] "Tennis Court" was released as her second single and reached number one on the New Zealand Singles Chart.[52][53] Third single "Team" reached the top ten of singles charts in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US.[38][54][55]

Her cover of Tears for Fears' single "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," produced by Michael A. Levine and Lucas Cantor, was included on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire film soundtrack.[56] 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 label Universal. The agreement gives the publisher the right to license Lorde's music for films and advertising.[57][58]

2014–present: Second studio album

Lorde performing at Lollapalooza in São Paulo, Brazil in 2014

In the first half of 2014, Lorde headlined various festivals, including Laneway Festival in Sydney,[59] Lollapalooza Chile,[60] Lollapalooza Brazil,[61] and Coachella.[62] In April 2014, Lorde performed "All Apologies" with the surviving members of Nirvana during the band's induction ceremony at the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.[63]

In December 2013, Lorde announced that she had began writing material for her second studio album.[64] In June 2014, Lorde revealed that her second studio album would be "totally different" from her debut album, continuing to reveal her writing style had changed and that she is working on new music and "it's definitely still at the beginning."[65]

On 31 July 2014, it was announced that Lorde would be curating the soundtrack for the film The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, it was also revealed that Lorde would sing the album's lead single which is set to be released in autumn 2014.[66] On 1 August 2014, Lorde performed at Lollapalooza again in Grant Park, Chicago.[67]



Lorde grew up listening to soul musicians Etta James and Otis Redding, as well as her parents' favourite records by the likes of Cat Stevens, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac. She cites the unusual vocals of Grimes, band Sleigh Bells and producer SBTRKT as her prominent influences.[68][69] Musically, Lorde is inspired by Lana Del Rey,[24] James Blake, Yeasayer, Animal Collective,[70] Kanye West[71] and Prince.[71] She cites rapper J. Cole and electronic producers as influences, which she praises for the use of using "their vocals in a really interesting way, whether it might be chopping up a vocal part or really lash or layering a vocal."[72][73]

Lorde also stated that she was inspired by the initially hidden identities of Burial and The Weeknd, explaining, "I feel like mystery is more interesting".[7] Lorde describes short story writers Raymond Carver, Wells Tower, Tobias Wolff and Claire Vaye Watkins as lyrical inspirations – particularly noting their sentence structures.[74][75]

Music and voice

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A 19 second of "Team", drawing from pop, rock, EDM and electrohop.[76][77]

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"Royals" is a track that criticises the glamorous lifestyle of the rich;[78] and combines subgenres of pop, including art pop[79] and electropop,[80] and also incorporates R&B,[81]

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Lorde writes her music vocally, and does not play musical instruments on record or stage.[82][83] Lorde has stated that her main focus is her voice as she does not play any instruments, saying, "I don't play any instruments, so my voice needs to have the focus. My vocal-scape is really important."[84] Lorde's vocals on her debut Pure Heroine were described as being "unique and powerfully intriguing" according to music online publication PopMatters, who continued to described her vocals as being "way beyond her years"[85][86] Jason Lipshutz of Billboard magazine, described Lordes vocals as being "dynamic", noting Lorde's changing vocal style and also praising her "smoky and restrained" vocals.[87]

Lorde's music has described as alternative rock,[7] art pop,[88] dream pop,[89] electronica,[90] electropop,[91][92] and indietronica.[93]

Pure Heroine criticises mainstream popular culture,[94][95] yet examines ideas typical of teen pop music, such as "social anxiety, romantic yearning, debilitating ennui [and] booze-soaked ragers", according to Jonah Weiner of Rolling Stone.[10]

Public image

Lorde's music and image is noted for challenging present-day pop and for challenging the music of artists including Miley Cyrus and Rihanna.[96] Forbes placed Lorde on their '30 Under 30' list of young people "who are changing our world".[97] Lorde was also featured and topped Time magazine's list of the most influential teenagers in the world, with Time commenting that she was "forging her own path."[97] She was also praised as one of the most prominent artists in the "post-millennial" era that has made such an "impact in popular music."[98] Lorde described her public image as coming "naturally" to her.[99]


Lorde has had an impact on American singer Britney Spears, who named Lorde as an influence and commented that Lorde is "really different and cool [...] It's inspiring for me, and it makes people eager to listen to music, which helps everyone".[100] In an interview with USA Today, English singer-songwriter Elton John praised "Tennis Court", describing it as "one of the most touching, beautiful things on earth."[101] Curt Smith of Tears for Fears thought her rendition of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was "absolutely amazing."[102] Lorde was named "The New Queen of Alternative" by Billboard.[7]

Lorde was given a faux-aristocratic title by a television show so that she can legally style herself as "Lady Lorde",[103] provided she does so by deed poll, as the title is not a true aristocratic one but rather, one which equates with 'Lord of the manor', signifying land ownership - in this case the two square feet of land bought for her by the television company http://www.lordtitles.co.uk/ladyship-lady-title-manor

Personal life

Lorde is a self-identified feminist.[104][105] She attended Takapuna Grammar School from 2010 to 2013, completing Year 12;[83][106] she chose not to return in 2014 to complete Year 13.[107]

In December 2013, Lorde was reported to be in a relationship with then-24-year-old New Zealand-born photographer James Lowe, whom she met before her music career.[108]

Other ventures

In April 2014, it was announced Lorde would be releasing a two-piece make-up limited edition collection in collaboration with MAC Cosmetics, consisting of a lipstick titled after her debut album, Pure Heroine, and an eyeliner.[109]

Lorde's song, "The Love Club", was included on the compilation to raise funds for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan, with the proceeds from the song being donated to the Philippines for the relief efforts of the Philippines Red Cross.[110] She is working with the Electoral Commission to increase the voter turnout of young people at the 2014 New Zealand general election, despite the fact she is too young to vote in the September election.[111]

Awards and nominations



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External links