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|Studio album by Lorde|
|Released||27 September 2013|
|Recorded||2012–13; Golden Age Studios (Morningside, Auckland)|
|Singles from Pure Heroine|
|Studio album by Lorde|
|Released||27 September 2013|
|Recorded||2012–13; Golden Age Studios (Morningside, Auckland)|
|Singles from Pure Heroine|
Pure Heroine is the debut studio album by New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde, released on 27 September 2013 by Universal Music Group. An extended version of the album was released on 13 December 2013. Lorde collaborated with producer Joel Little and began planning the project in 2012. After releasing her first extended play (EP) The Love Club EP and its lead single "Royals" in 2013, they continued writing and producing material. Pure Heroine is a pop album built around minimal production, deep bass and programmed beats. Lyrically, the album discusses youth and critiques of mainstream culture.
Pure Heroine received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who commended its songwriting and production, praise was additionally placed on Lorde's vocal ability. The record debuted at number one on the Official New Zealand Music Chart and the Australian ARIA Charts. Pure Heroine performed strongly on national record charts internationally, reaching number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 and charting within the top-ten in eight additional countries. Pure Heroine was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. The album was also noted for its impact on present-day pop music and its challenge on modern-day artists.
The lead single, "Royals", was a critical and commercial success, topping the charts in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States, where Lorde became the first solo New Zealand act to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the youngest act to do so since Tiffany's 1987 single "I Think We're Alone Now". "Tennis Court" was subsequently released as the album's second single and charted in multiple countries. "Team" was released as the third single from the album and charted within the top ten of New Zealand, Canada and the United States, and also charted in the top twenty of Australia. "No Better" and "Glory and Gore" were released as the fourth and fifth singles, respectively; the former was only included in the extended edition of Pure Heroine.
From the age of 14, Lorde worked with Universal to develop her sound and artistic vision. She was signed to Universal by Scott Maclachlan when she was 13, and was initially put together with a succession of different songwriters in attempt to develop her own music, but without success. Maclachlan told HitQuarters: "Fundamentally I think she understood that she was going to write her own music but would need someone to help with the production side of it."  Lorde began writing songs on guitar at the age of "13 or 14"  Lorde was eventually paired with writer and producer Joel Little and this working relationship clicked almost immediately. Lorde's debut extended play, 2013's The Love Club EP, was both a critical and commercial success. It received acclaim from music critics who also compared the EP to the work of Sky Ferreira, Florence + the Machine, Lana Del Rey, and Grimes, and reached number one in New Zealand, number two in Australia where it was certified five times platinum for shipments of 350,000 copies, and twenty-three on the US Billboard 200.
Immediately prior to beginning work on Pure Heroine, Lorde stated her intentions for the debut album to be a "cohesive" work. As with The Love Club EP, Pure Heroine was recorded with producer Joel Little at Golden Age Studios in Auckland. Initially Lorde and Little played demo's to A&R Scott Maclachlan, in which they would discuss to songs exchange comments and change some aspects of the songs. Recording for the album was overseen by Lorde and Little, but was described by Lorde's A&R Scott Maclachlan as being fairly short, with the majority of what Lorde played him ending up on the final edition of the album. The recording took place in a Golden Age Studios, a small studio with no extra musicians and expensive technology, and was done in less than a year. Lorde wanted to write her own music and the albums content, which she did alongside co-writer Joel Little. Ten songs were included in the album's final track listing, with around seven or eight that had not been included. When choosing the amount of songs to include on the final track listing, Lorde and her A&R decided to keep the amount at around ten songs to avoid "filler material."
During the recording of the album, Lorde stated that she "didn’t really have a specific sound in mind when I started recording", continuing to say she listened to large amount of "hip-hop and electronic music, and also full-on top 40 pop". For influence she cited James Blake and minimalist music. Lorde also listened to American singer Lana Del Rey, taking influence from her hip-hop genres. Later, Lorde went to show the lyrics to boyfriend, James Lowe, and stated that sharing things with her boyfriend encouraged much of the albums writing and ultimately inspired and drove her to write the majority of the album. Lorde was a collaborative producer along with Little, in which she listened to a lot of electronic music in order for her to develop a "real taste" of what she wanted the albums production to sound like.
Lorde's voice on Pure Heroine is "unique and powerfully intriguing" according to music online publication PopMatters and was described as being "way beyond her years" Lorde has stated her main focus during the album 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." Jason Lipshutz of Billboard magazine, described Lordes vocals as being "dynamic" during the album, noting Lorde's changing vocal style. During "Ribs" uses a "waxing poetic" vocal, whilst "Buzzcut Season" see's Lorde's voice try "to sail off". Pure Heroine also features "smoky and restrained" vocals. The album's production contains a variety of genres including electronic pulse, pop, rock, EDM and electrohop The album is built around Little's heavy production noted for containing "deep bass rumbles, lilting loops and programmed beats", evoking "shadowy sonics" compared by Jason Lipshutz to that of Massive Attack and the xx. Critics praised the albums music and sound, particularly praising Lordes partnership with Joel Little, Clash Music praised the albums "glittering, forward-thinking pop soundscapes". Continuing to note Little's "less-is-more approach is stunningly minimal at times, and it’s vital in accentuating Lorde’s vocals and creating a focal point". Time Out found Little's "minimal and sinewy ‘hip-pop’ sound" as a highlight of the album and felt the albums music took influence from trap music comparing the arrangements to singer songwriter Robyn and Santigold.
The album's lyrics have been said to "explore classic teen-pop themes – social anxiety, romantic yearning, debilitating ennui, booze-soaked ragers – with an eerie, zoomed-out detachment;" and be "certainly underpin[ed by]" "an adolescent aggrievance and angst." The albums lyrics revisits Lorde's common theme of "youth", with the album primarily being inspired by her youth and critiques of mainstream culture. Rolling Stone wrote "Lorde's languidly aphoristic lyrics balance rock-star swagger and torqued-up teenage angst" and that her lyrics "have a rattle-nerve pathos and power like nothing else going in 2013." The albums lyrical themes and concept are introduced immediately with the opening track of the album declaring Lorde is "bored", the themes continue throughout the album with Lorde taking aim at "pop culture" picking about the "falsity of her fellow chart toppers." Lorde's lyrics are noted for talking about "the mundanity of teenage life - celebrating the often ignored intelligence of the next generation." Lorde also uses metaphors mentioning teeth, using teeth to talk about the "Hollywood smile" and "our gnashers as a way to speak of unrealistic expectations set by society - ringing particularly true on the reverb-happy, military-driven 'White Teeth Teens'". The album's lyrical content was noted as "smart" by Billboard magazine who praised the albums opening line "Don't you think that it's boring how people talk?", continuing to praise to albums closing line "Let them talk" noting a link between the albums opening and closing line.
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The album's opening track, "Tennis Court", has been described as "older, slightly crazier cousin" of debut single "Royals". Billboard characterised "Tennis Court" as having "detached attitude, woozy production and [being] chopped-n-screwed", and second-song "400 Lux" (named for the illuminance of a sunset), as "femme fatale pop at its finest", including "over canyon-sized bass and popping percussion". Lorde wrote the lyrics to "Royals" in only half an hour. She was influenced by hip hop and singer Lana Del Rey. "I was listening to a lot of rap, but also a lot of Lana Del Rey, because she’s obviously really hip-hop influenced, but all those references to expensive alcohol, beautiful clothes and beautiful cars – I was thinking, 'This is so opulent, but it’s also bullshit.'" "Ribs" starts with an "ambient opening" and an "exhausted-sounding Lorde growing more frantic with each passing second", with the lyrics that include the singer discovering her maturity and "grown-up problems".
"Buzzcut Season" has a "tropical paradise" style production with lyrics describing Lorde trying to remain "in blissful ignorance to the crumbling world trying to permeate through news broadcasts." The album's sixth song, "Team", contains a "crashing, synth-heavy beat" and was described by Billboard as being "darkly melodic." Lyrically, the song touches up on her "disconnect with modern pop music" and the difference between onscreen portrayals and reality. Next, "Glory and Gore" is a song with lyrics that talk about "society's obsession with violence." "Still Sane" was praised for Lorde's voice being described as "smoky and restrained", with lyrics touching upon the "all work and no play" craziness of her rise to fame and the duality of fame and legacy". "White Teeth Teens" is a doo-wop style song that speaks on the imperfections of teenagers and the way they present themselves. "A World Alone", the album's closing track, includes a "roaring dance beat". Its lyrics speak of a world "which is composed of haters, existential musings, endless Internet chatter and the one person with whom [one] can escape all the judgments." About the song, Jonah Weiner of Rolling Stone wrote "describing a passionate romance, her mind can't help but jump-cut not only to the relationship's inevitable failure, but past that, to death."
Released for sale digitally in March 2013, and on CD on May 2013, The Love Club EP featured five songs including "Royals". "Royals" debuted at number 1 on the New Zealand Top 40 on 15 March 2013 and remained in the top position for three weeks. On the same day, The Love Club EP debuted in the number 2 position on the album chart, behind David Bowie's The Next Day, which also debuted that week. In August 2013, Lorde became the first woman to top the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in the United States since Tracy Bonham in 1996. On the chart issue dated 2 October 2013, the song rose to become Lorde's first number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. At sixteen, she is the youngest artist to reach number one in the country since Tiffany did with "I Think We're Alone Now" on 14 November 1987. With "Royals", Lorde is the first New Zealand act to have achieved a Billboard Hot 100 number one as lead artist.
The "Tennis Court" single was released in New Zealand on 8 June 2013. The Tennis Court EP was released digitally in the UK on 7 June (due to the timezone difference) and physically on 22 June. It was played during the BBC coverage of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships Ladies Final. On 14 June 2013, Lorde's single 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. Previously, Titanium held this record with three songs.
"Team" is the third single from the album. It was leaked by Australian radio station Triple J on 12 September and as a result, the single was released digitally in Australia and New Zealand on 13 September. The single became available in the United States on 13 September as part of the pre-order for Pure Heroine. "Team" debuted at number three on the New Zealand Singles Chart, becoming Lorde's third consecutive top-three single in the country. On the Billboard Hot 100, "Team" peaked at number 6, becoming her second US top-ten hit since her debut number-one hit "Royals". The single also reached number 5 on the Canadian Hot 100. On 13 December 2013, "No Better", a song from the extended version of Pure Heroine, was released digitally onto the iTunes Store as the fourth single from the album in countries outside the United States. The single was made available for free until 19 December as a part of the iTunes Store's "12 Days of Gifts" programme. "Glory and Gore" impacted US modern rock radio on 11 March 2014 as the album's fifth single.
On 12 August 2013, Lorde announced via her official Twitter profile that her debut album Pure Heroine would be released on 30 September 2013, along with she revealed the album's cover art and track listing. The release of the album was preceded by an advertising campaign which saw lyrics to her songs displayed in buses, shop windows and even sent via fax machine to media outlets. An extended version of the album was released on 13 December 2013, featuring six additional songs: "No Better", "Bravado", "Million Dollar Bills", "The Love Club", "Biting Down" and "Swingin Party". Lorde was the replacement for Frank Ocean, who cancelled due to illness, at the 2013 Splendour in the Grass Festival. She was contacted on 26 July 2013, the Friday immediately prior to the weekend of the festival, while she was in attendance at a party with friends in Auckland, New Zealand. She performed before 10,000 people in northern Byron Bay, Australia, where the festival is based as of 2013. In September 2013, Lorde appeared on New Zealand's 3rd Degree and performed on Later... with Jools Holland.
On 23 September 2013, "Buzzcut Season" was released as a promotional single in some Asian iTunes Stores. "Ribs" was offered as the free single of the week on the iTunes Store during the week of the album's release.
On 1 October 2013 Lorde performed "Royals" and "White Teeth Teens" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. On 13 November 2013 Lorde performed several songs on Live with Letterman, including "Bravado", "Tennis Court", "Buzzcut Season", "Ribs", "Royals", "Team" and "White Teeth Teens". On 3 October 2013, the singer held a concert at the Warsaw Venue in Brooklyn and performed a variety of tracks from the album.
Lorde performed "Royals" on US talk show Ellen on 9 October 2013. Lorde also opened the 2013 New Zealand Music Awards with "Royals". On 2 December 2013 Lorde performed "Team" at the 2013 ARIA Awards. Lorde performed a stripped down version of the albums lead single "Royals" at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, the performance received praise from rapper Mac Miller and Chrissy Teigen. To further promote the album, Lorde embarked on a tour with several performances, Lorde announced the tour in December 2013. Lorde's debut tour kicked off in North America at Austin Music Hall, Austin, Texas, on 3 March 2014 and ending on 26 March 2014 in Oakland, CA. All together Lorde will play sixteen shows in North America including two dates at New York, Roseland Ballroom and one in Toronto. The 21 March date at the Midland theater sold out its 2,500 plus seats in less than a day. Following the announcement of the sixteen date tour, it sold out. Lorde is set to perform at the St Jerome's Laneway Festival in 2014.
|The A.V. Club||B+|
|Consequence of Sound|||
|The New Zealand Herald|||
Pure Heroine received generally positive reviews from music critics. At review aggregate site Metacritic, it has an average score of 79 out of 100, based on 28 reviews, indicating "generally favorable" reviews. Jason Lipshutz of Billboard gave the album a score of 94, describing the album as "immaculate" and stating that Lorde was "the most vocally striking and lyrically thought-provoking" artist to breakthrough in recent times. He also compared Joel Little's bass, loops and rhythms, on the album, to the dark electronica of English bands Massive Attack and The xx. Furthermore, Lipshutz called the album "honest and addictive"; stating that "the age of Lorde" had begun. Tom Cardy of The Dominion Post gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, stating that although the album was not "ground-breaking" and didn't offer any "surprises", it was a "pure gold" follow-up to her her extended play and was a "strong" debut album. David Farrier of 3 News gave a very favourable review of the album, stating that it lives "up to the hype" that its lead single "Royals" created and exceeded expectations. Farrier called Lorde's writing "so good" and praised her maturity; describing the album as "sonically delightful", "utterly unique", and timeless. Joe Cristo of Move gave the album 5 out of 5 stars; calling it "breathtaking" and "flawless". Cristo said the album completely lacked filler tracks and rivaled "every other record that has come out within the last year, and possibly in the last ten [years]."
Lydia Jenkin of The New Zealand Herald stated the album contained "lyrical genius" and "endlessly appealing melodies." Jenkin stated that the album did not offer any surprises, although praised Lorde's vocals; calling her the "new pop heroine." Spin's Maura Johnston offered a somewhat contrasting review of Lorde and her album, suggesting "her age as some sort of clumsy ploy", that "the music is aggressively okay" and "is wash in (possibly fake) teen-pop-star ennui". Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic gave the album 3 out of 5 stars, stated that Lorde's personality on the album "may be an act" and said that Lorde was dishonest on the album. Erlewine also said Lorde's music was unoriginal, comparing her to Lana Del Rey on several occasions, although praised Lorde's style and "potential." Adam Offitzer of Pretty Much Amazing gave the album a B, stating that the album was "no masterpiece" and said that the tracks during the middle of the album did not have a purpose, but that Pure Heroine was engaging enough to keep Lorde relevant. Giving the album a 7.3/10 Pitchfork's Lindsay Zoladz wrote that Lorde "achieves a tricky balancing act of exposing irony and even hypocrisy without coming off as preachy or moralistic," whilst implying that the music deftly depicts pompous characters. Evan Sawdey of PopMatters said "Pure Heroine remains a lush, engaging experience. Lorde’s sudden international success is most welcome in such an overcrowded, singles-oriented marketplace as we have today."
Pure Heroine appeared on several critics' year-end top albums lists. The FasterLouder online publication, part of the Australian Sound Alliance media company, identified Pure Heroine as the top album of 2013 in its 'FL's Top 50 Albums of 2013' list. Published on 3 December 2013, the publication referenced its 2–13 October review, in which the writer referred to Lorde as "the pop superstar least likely". Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album at number seven of the 50 best albums of 2013, and called it the number one debut album of the year. The album was positioned at number twenty-four on musicOMH's list of the top 100 of the year. The The A.V. Club ranked the album number 9 on their 23 Best Albums of 2013 Whilst Idolator ranked Pure Heroine number 3 of their 2013's Best Albums Paste named the album the 36th best album of 2013 out of 50. Pigeons & Planes called Pure Heroine their 28th best albums of 2013, PopMatters ranked the album 63 of The 75 Best Albums of 2013 and Digital Spy ranked the album number twenty-five of the top albums of 2013. Meanwhile, Billboard ranked it at number four on its same list.
The New York Times ranked the album at number one on their year-end list, saying that the album "commandeers those wide-open spaces with her lustrous voice and angel-choir harmonies carrying serious thoughts. Lorde writes about suburban provincialism, peer pressure, insecurity, determination and — in the irresistible “Royals” — about pop-culture fantasies and class-conscious realities." American Songwriter ranked the album number 26 on their American Songwriter’s Top 50 Albums Of 2013, whilst Clash positioned the album at number 10 on the Clash's Top Albums of 2013. Consequence of Sound ranked the album at number 47 on the Top 50 Albums of 2013 and newspaper The Guardian placed the album at 13 on The best albums of 2013 musicOMH positioned Pure Heroine at number 24 on the musicOMH's Top 100 Albums Of 2013. Slant Magazine placed the album at number 3 on The 25 Best Albums of 2013 and Time Out ranked the album at number 20 on 50 Best Albums of 2013. By contrast, Vice named Pure Heroine the worst album of 2013.
Pure Heroine was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, while "Royals" won two: Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance and was nominated for Record of the Year. In winning the awards Lorde became the youngest New Zealand act to win at the awards and became the third youngest act overall. Pure Heroine is nominated for the Best Album at the 2014 World Music Award, with its three singles also being nominated for Best Song. The album was nominated for the Taite Music Prize an annual music prize awarded for the best album from New Zealand by Independent Music New Zealand. The Glamour awards also nominated both Pure Heroine and Lorde as their next "Next Breakthrough" act.
Pure Heroine debuted at number one on the New Zealand Albums Chart and was certified platinum in its first week of availability; it held the peak position over the following two weeks. After eleven weeks on the chart the album re-bounded to number two and was certified three times platinum. After spending eighteen weeks on the chart Pure Heroine rose from three back to number one on the New Zealand charts, being certificated four times platinum. The album also debuted at number one on the Australian Albums Chart. In its second week on the Australian chart, the album fell one place to number two and was certified Gold by ARIA. In Australia the album was named number nine on ARIA's 10 Albums of 2013 in Australia with sales of around 100,000. Pure Heroine entered the Canadian Albums Chart at number two with first-week sales of 15,000 copies; it was later certified platinum for shipments of 80,000 copies. In the United Kingdom, the album sold 18,294 copies to debut at number four on the UK Albums Chart, where it was later certified gold for shipments of 100,000 copies by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
The album debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 129,000 copies. In its second week on the chart, the album fell three places to number six with a fifty-one percent drop in sales to 63,000 copies. In its third week the album slipped one spot to number seven selling 48,000 copies, however in its fourth week, the album recovered from position seven to position five, selling 40,000 units. According to Nielsen SoundScan the album had sold 413,000 copies by 3 December 2013 and by 19 December 2013 the album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) selling 541,000 copies. During the Christmas period the album had a fourteen percent sales increase in the US selling 78,000 copies moving from number eleven on the Billboard 200 to number seven. On 9 January 2014, Pure Heroine jumped from seven to five on the US Billboard 200, selling a further 46,000 copies, the album held the position the following week selling a further 33,000 copies.  As of January 2014, the record had sold 797,000 copies and 6.8 million tracks in the United States.
After Lorde's performance at the Grammy awards the album saw an eighty six percent increase in sales, rebounding from number five to its original peak position, number three, on the US Billboard with 68,000 copies sold. After slipping to number eight on week ending of 19 February, "Pure Heroine" climbed from eight to seven with 39,000 copies sold, a nine percent rise. The following week the album rose one spot on the chart to number six selling 30,000 copies, in doing so the album surpassed the one million mark selling 1.01 million copies. It thus became the first debut to reach the million mark since last October 2013 and is the first woman to have her debut album sell one million in sales since April 2011, when Adele's "19" reached the feat. "Pure Heroine" has also yet to leave the top 20 of the Billboard 200 since its debut on the chart and has resided in the top 10 for 16 nonconsecutive weeks, including the last nine in a row.
The album had sold 1.5 million copies worldwide by the end of December 2013 according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
The album was the center of praise due to its genres and take on pop. The album was praised for challenging present day pop and for challenging the music of artists including Miley Cyrus and Rihanna. Clash said, "But the popularity of Pure Heroine suggests all is not lost. It says there's still an intellectual, polished and important place for pop, that doesn't rely on open letters, open legs, Twitter, twerking and obscenely desperate electro hooks. Whether the burgeoning pressure of becoming a star will get the better of Lorde, we'll undoubtedly find out. But for now, she is most definitely our 'queen bee'."
Forbes placed Lorde on their '30 Under 30' list of young people "who are changing our world". Lorde became the youngest act in the music category, with the writers of the article saying, "New Zealand's biggest star has rocketed to mainstream acclaim with debut album Pure Heroine and unexpected hit 'Royals'. She's already cashing in with a (US) $2.5 million publishing deal, and more is undoubtedly on the way." 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." Forbes also wrote in favour of the album calling it a "breakout success" stating that there is a "larger evolution on the horizon."
Pure Heroine was noted for being "cohesive [and] mainstream" and simultaneously "[breaking] barriers in terms of unachieved success and lyrical content, while maintaining universal appeal." Lorde and the album prove that "mainstream pop doesn't have to be dumb downed" to be accepted. The album was further praised for speaking for the "generation" raised in the internet age with social networks and "sites like Perez Hilton and TMZ furthering our obsession with celebrities as idols." 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."
|Pure Heroine – Standard version|
|7.||"Glory and Gore"||3:30|
|9.||"White Teeth Teens"||3:36|
|10.||"A World Alone"||4:54|
|Pure Heroine – Extended version (iTunes Store exclusive)|
|13.||"Million Dollar Bills"||2:18|
|14.||"The Love Club"||3:21|
|Pure Heroine – Japanese version|
|13.||"Bravado (Fffrrannno Remix)"||3:43|
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Pure Heroine.
|Australia (ARIA)||2× Platinum||140,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Gold||7,500x|
|Canada (Music Canada)||2× Platinum||160,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||4× Platinum||60,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,150,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Australia||27 September 2013||Standard||Universal Music|
|South Korea||30 September 2013||Digital download|
|Germany||25 October 2013||Universal Music|
|Ireland||Virgin EMI Records|
|South Korea||28 October 2013||CD||Universal Music|
|United Kingdom||Virgin EMI Records|
|Germany||1 November 2013||LP||Universal Music|
|United Kingdom||11 November 2013||Virgin EMI Records|
|Australia||15 November 2013||Universal Music|
|United States||19 November 2013|
|Canada||13 December 2013||Digital download||Extended|
|Australia||16 December 2013|
|Japan||19 February 2014||Standard||Universal Music|