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A young, light-skinned girl is wearing dark lipstick and wears her hair pulled back. She is dressed in a black shirt.
Lorde at the 27th Annual ARIA Music Awards, December 2013.
Background information
Birth nameElla Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor
Born(1996-11-07) 7 November 1996 (age 17)
Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand
GenresArt pop, minimal, electronica
Years active2012–present
LabelsUMG, Lava, Republic
Associated actsJoel Little
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A young, light-skinned girl is wearing dark lipstick and wears her hair pulled back. She is dressed in a black shirt.
Lorde at the 27th Annual ARIA Music Awards, December 2013.
Background information
Birth nameElla Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor
Born(1996-11-07) 7 November 1996 (age 17)
Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand
GenresArt pop, minimal, electronica
Years active2012–present
LabelsUMG, Lava, Republic
Associated actsJoel Little

Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor[1] (born 7 November 1996), known by her stage name Lorde (/ˈlɔrd/), is a New Zealand singer-songwriter. Born in Takapuna and raised in Devonport, Auckland, she performed in various singing and drama classes as a child, and at the age of thirteen signed with Universal. Yelich-O'Connor adopted her stage name due to her fascination with "royals and aristocracy", but felt the name Lord was too masculine so added an 'e' to make it more feminine.[2]

Her musical debut was an EP, entitled The Love Club, which was released in November 2012, and her first single, "Royals", debuted at number one on the New Zealand Top 40, and also reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2013, making her the first New Zealand solo artist to have a number one song in the United States. Her debut album, Pure Heroine, was released in September 2013, receiving critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide.

Her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades. In October 2013, she jointly won the 2013 Silver Scroll award for "Royals", which celebrates outstanding songwriting achievements in original New Zealand pop music. For the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, Lorde received four nominations, in which she won Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for "Royals".[3] In February 2014 she was chosen International Female Solo Artist at the BRIT Awards.[4]

Early life

Ella Yelich-O'Connor was born in Auckland, New Zealand on 7 November 1996 to Sonja Yelich,[5] a prize-winning New Zealand poet, and Vic O'Connor, a civil engineer.[6][7][8] She was raised in suburban Devonport, Auckland[9][10][11] with an older sister (Jerry) and a younger brother (Angelo) and younger sister (India).[12][13][14] She is of Croatian and Irish ancestry.[15]

At age 5, Lorde followed her friend into a drama group and discovered a love of singing and acting.[16] Lorde has said she enjoyed how she had to "switch on a different side to myself and become a different me."[17] Lorde's mother, a poet, encouraged her to read books.[16][17]

Lorde attended Belmont Intermediate School,[18] where in 2009 she and friend Louis McDonald participated in, and won, the school's talent show.[19] 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.[17] When Lorde was 13, A&R scout Scott Maclachlan signed her to Universal and she began working with a succession of songwriters but without success.[20][21] 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." [20] Lorde began writing songs with her guitar at "about thirteen or fourteen."[22][better source needed] Lorde was eventually paired up with writer and producer Joel Little and the partnership "really clicked". Within a week together the duo had created three songs, including "Royals".[20]


2012–present: Pure Heroine and breakthrough

Lorde's debut EP, The Love Club, was originally posted on SoundCloud in November 2012 and was available for free download.[11][20] 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."[20] 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.[20] 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."[23]

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.[24] 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".[10] 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".[25] The song also peaked 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.[26] 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.[27]

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

Lorde's second EP, the Tennis Court EP, was released digitally in the New Zealand on 8 June 2013 , in the UK on 7 June (due to the timezone difference), and physically on 22 June.[28][29][30] On 14 June 2013, the song debuted at number 1 on the New Zealand Top 40 singles chart. In the same week, Lorde became the first New Zealand artist to simultaneously have four songs in the top 20 tracks of the New Zealand Top 40. Previously, Titanium held this record with three songs.[31] Lorde was asked to perform at the 2013 Splendour in the Grass festival because the previous act, Frank Ocean, was ill.[25]

On 12 August 2013, Lorde announced on her Twitter profile that her debut album Pure Heroine would be released in the US on 30 September 2013.[32] 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.[33] 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".[34] On 15 October, it was announced they had won.[35][36][37] Her cover of Tears for Fears' hit song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was included on the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire film soundtrack.[38] 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.[39][40]


Voice and music

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"Royals" has a similar rhythm to a snap song, with its instrumentation of "fingersnaps and toe-tapping bass."[41]

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"Team" is a "mid-tempo" song, and draws from the genres of pop, rock, electronic dance and electrohop.[42][43][44] Lorde mostly sings with an American accent.[45]

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Lorde has stated her main focus is her voice, saying "I don't play any instruments, so my voice needs to have the focus. My vocal-scape is really important."[46]

Lorde's musical style has been described by AllMusic as a "mix of arty, confessional bedroom pop and club-ready electro-rock". Her work has also been compared to Grimes, Lana Del Rey, and Sky Ferreira.[47] Meanwhile, James Lachno from The Telegraph commented that Lorde sounds "twitchy" and "trendy electro".[48] Lyrically, both The Love Club and Pure Heroine were primarily inspired by her youth and critiques mainstream culture.[49][50] Pure Heroine lyrical themes have been said to "explore classic teen-pop themes – social anxiety, romantic yearning, debilitating ennui, booze-soaked ragers – with an eerie, zoomed-out detachment;"[51] and be "certainly underpin[ed by]" "an adolescent aggrievance and angst."[52][53]


Lorde's music draws from electropop, but she 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, the band Sleigh Bells and producer SBTRKT as her prominent influences.[54][55] 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",[11] and called American musical artist Nicki Minaj an "important female in pop."[56]

Lorde describes short story writers Raymond Carver, Wells Tower, Tobias Wolff and Claire Vaye Watkins as lyrical inspirations – particularly noting their sentence structures.[57] Lorde stated her music is also inspired by authors, citing Tobias Wolff, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman and Leonard Cohen as influences on her writing.[58]

During the writing of The Love Club (2013), Lorde was particularly influenced by Kanye West[59] and she performed a cover version of West's song "Hold My Liquor" at her Auckland concert on 7 September 2013.[60][61][62] Lorde has also cited Prince as an influence.[59]

Lorde's music has been described as containing masculine qualities due to Lorde listening and admiring a range of male artists. She cites James Blake as an influence on her music stating "I think he's awesome and has been a big influence on me recently", as well as citing 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 lairing a vocal."[63][64]

Personal life

Lorde is a self-identified feminist.[7] In 2013, she completed Year Twelve at Takapuna Grammar School;[65][66] graduating later that year.[67]

In January 2014, media articles revealed that Lorde is in a relationship with 24-year-old New Zealand-born photographer James Lowe, whom she met before her music career.[68]


Lorde's song "The Love Club", from her debut EP (2013), 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.[69] In December 2013, Lorde raised money for her local community in Devonport.[70]


Awards and nominations

For the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, Lorde was nominated for four Grammys: Record of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year for "Royals" and Best Pop Vocal Album for Pure Heroine.[3] Lorde won both Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for her debut single "Royals".[71] Lorde became the third youngest winner in Grammy history and the youngest winner from New Zealand, Lorde also became the youngest person to be nominated for the Record of the Year award.[72][73][74]


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External links