Pure Heroine

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Pure Heroine
Studio album by Lorde
Released27 September 2013 (2013-09-27)
Recorded2012–13 at Golden Age Studios (Morningside, Auckland, NZ)
GenreArt pop,[1] electronica, minimal
Length37:08
LabelUniversal
ProducerJoel Little
Lorde chronology
  • Pure Heroine
  • (2013)
Singles from Pure Heroine
  1. "Royals"
    Released: 8 March 2013 (2013-03-08)
  2. "Tennis Court"
    Released: 7 June 2013 (2013-06-07)
  3. "Team"
    Released: 13 September 2013 (2013-09-13)
 
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Pure Heroine
Studio album by Lorde
Released27 September 2013 (2013-09-27)
Recorded2012–13 at Golden Age Studios (Morningside, Auckland, NZ)
GenreArt pop,[1] electronica, minimal
Length37:08
LabelUniversal
ProducerJoel Little
Lorde chronology
  • Pure Heroine
  • (2013)
Singles from Pure Heroine
  1. "Royals"
    Released: 8 March 2013 (2013-03-08)
  2. "Tennis Court"
    Released: 7 June 2013 (2013-06-07)
  3. "Team"
    Released: 13 September 2013 (2013-09-13)

Pure Heroine is the debut studio album by New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde. It was first released on 27 September 2013 with an extended version of the album being released on 13 December 2013. Recording for the album began in 2012 with producer Joel Little after being signed to Universal Music at the age of twelve by A&R scout Scott Maclachlan, with several songs being originally released on the The Love Club EP, which was released in early 2013. After the critical acclaim of her EP and its lead single "Royals", the two eventually re-entered the studio and began co-writing and producing more material.

"Pure Heroine" consists of ten tracks. Musically, "Pure Heroine" is an art pop and electronica album, combining ambient, dark wave, indietronica, synthpop genres with minimalist production, lyrically thought-provoking song structure and striking vocals. Lorde revisits her common theme of "youth", with the album primarily being inspired by her youth and critiques of mainstream culture.[2] Lyrically the album explores previous themes of social anxiety, romantic yearning, debilitating ennui and booze-soaked ragers.[3]

Pure Heroine received critical acclaim upon its release, with many commending Lorde's vocals and songwriting, as well as Little's production. Lorde also received comparison to notable singer-songwriters such as Adele and Lana Del Rey. The album achieved excellent sales in several countries, reaching number one in her home country and Australia, as well as debuting at number two in Canada and number three in the United States. Within a month of release, it achieved gold and platinum statuses with the ARIA and Recorded Music NZ, respectively.

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" and "Team" were subsequently released as the second and third singles from the album and have enjoyed moderate commercial success as well, charting in multiple countries. The album is nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.[4]

Background[edit]

The goal for me is to make a body of work that is cohesive, that feels like an album and is something that I'm going to be proud of. I'm working on an album at the moment and it seems a lot of albums lately don’t feel like a cohesive set of songs that complement each other and mean something as a group. If I can make something which does feel like that, and feels right and true and good, then I will have succeeded.

 — Yelich-O'Connor, on her objectives for Pure Heroine.[5]

From the age of 14, Ella Yelich-O'Connor worked with Universal to develop her sound and artistic vision. Previously, in August 2009 when Ella was 12, her musician friend Louis McDonald's dad, Ian, sent Universal A&R scout Scott Maclachlan two home recordings - an audio of Louis and Ella covering Duffy's hit song "Warwick Avenue," and a video of her singing Pixie Lott's "Mama Do." Maclachlan later signed her to Universal at the age of 13 and began working with songwriters at 14. Yelich-O'Connor began writing songs at the age of "13 or 14" using her guitar.[6][7]

Having completed recording in November 2012,[8] The Love Club EP was released digitally in March 2013, and on CD in May 2013, with five songs including the number one hit "Royals". On 27 May 2013, "Royals" was covered by girl group Gap 5, on New Zealand television's The X Factor and mentored by Melanie Blatt. Immediately prior to beginning work on Pure Heroine, Yelich-O'Connor stated her intentions for the debut album to be a "cohesive" work.[5] As with The Love Club EP, Pure Heroine was recorded with producer Joel Little at Golden Age Studios in Auckland.[9][10]

Music and lyrics[edit]

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The song is synth- and percussion-based with Lorde's vocal ranges one octave in the key of G, from a third to a fourth octave.[11]

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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".[12] For influence she cited James Blake and minimalist music.[13] 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;"[3] and be "certainly underpin[ed by]" "an adolescent aggrievance and angst."[14] 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."[15]

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 after a clear day's sunrise/sunset illuminance), as "femme fatale pop at its finest", including "over canyon-sized bass and popping percussion".[16] "Royals" is a minimal track that infuses elements of art pop, pop, grime and blues. Lorde wrote the lyrics to "Royals" in only half an hour.[17] 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.'"[18]

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"Team" is a mid-tempo song, and draws from the genres of pop, rock, electronic dance and electrohop.[19][20][21]

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"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".[16] "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."[16] The album's sixth song, "Team", contains a "crashing, synth-heavy beat" and was described by Billboard as being "darkly melodic."[22] Lyrically, the song touches up on her "disconnect with modern pop music" and the difference between onscreen portrayals and reality.[22] 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".[16] "White Teeth Teens" is a doo-wop style song that speaks on the imperfections of teenagers and the way they present themselves.[16] "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."[16] 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."[3]

Singles[edit]

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Royals is Art pop and minimal styled song. The song has a similar rhythm to a snap song, with its instrumentation of "fingersnaps and toe-tapping bass."[23]

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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.[24] 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.[25] 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 November 14, 1987.[26] With "Royals", Lorde is the first New Zealand act to have achieved a Billboard Hot 100 number one as lead artist.[27]

The "Tennis Court" single was released in New Zealand on 8 June 2013.[28] The Tennis Court EP was released digitally in the UK on 7 June (due to the timezone difference) and physically on 22 June.[29][30] 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.[31]

"Team" is the third single from the album.[32] 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.[22][33][34] The single became available in the United States on 13 September as part of the pre-order for Pure Heroine.[35]

Release and promotion[edit]

Lorde in September 2013
Lorde performing in 2013 at Showbox at the Market during the Decibel Festival in Seattle, Washington.

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.[36] 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.[37] 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".

Yelich-O'Connor 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. As Lorde, Yelich-O'Connor performed before 10,000 people in northern Byron Bay, Australia, where the festival is based as of 2013.[38] In September 2013, Lorde appeared on New Zealand's 3rd Degree[39] and performed on Later... with Jools Holland.[40][41]

On 23 September 2013, Buzzcut Season was released as a promotional single in some Asian iTunes Stores.[42][43] "Ribs" was offered as the free single of the week on iTunes the week the album came out.[44] On 1 October 2013 Lorde performed "Royals" and "White Teeth Teens" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[45] 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".[46] Lorde performed "Royals" on US talk show Ellen on 9 October 2013.[47] Lorde also opened the 2013 New Zealand Music Awards with "Royals".[48] On 2 December 2013 Lorde performed "Team" at the 2013 ARIA Awards.[49] To 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 March 3, 2014 and ending on March 26, 2014 in Oakland, CA.[50] All together Lorde will play sixteen shows in North America including two dates at New York, Roseland Ballroom and one in Toronto.[51]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic78/100[52]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[14]
The A.V. ClubB+[53]
Consequence of Sound4/5 stars[54]
The Independent3/5 stars[55]
NME6/10[56]
Pitchfork Media7.3/10[57]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[58]
Slant Magazine4/5 stars[59]
Spin6/10[60]
Sputnikmusic4.1/5[61]

Upon release, Pure Heroine received positive reviews from music critics. At review aggregate site Metacritic, it has an average score of 78 out of 100, based on 27 reviews, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[52] 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.[16] 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.[62] 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.[63]

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]."[64] 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".[65] 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".[66] 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".[67]

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.[68] 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.[69] 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."[70]

Accolades[edit]

The picture of a Grammy Award, a trophy that features a golden gramophone on a black marbel block. The award belongs to Jacob Bronstein, who won it in 2007 for Best Spoken Word Album.
Lorde is nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album in 2013.

"Pure Heroine" appeared on several critics' year-end top albums lists. The Faster Louder 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 October 2-13 review, in which the writer referred to Lorde as "the pop superstar least likely".[71] Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album at number seven of the 50 best albums of 2013.[72] The album was positioned at number twenty-four on MusicOMH's list of the top 100 of the year.[73] The The A.V. Club ranked the album number 9 on their 23 Best Albums of 2013[74] Whilst Idolator ranked "Pure Heroine" number 3 of their 2013's Best Albums[75] Paste named the album the 36th best album of 2013 out of 50.[76]

Pigeons and Planes called "Pure Heroine" their 28th best albums of 2013[77] PopMatters ranked the album 63 of The 75 Best Albums of 2013[78] Digital Spy ranked the album number twenty-five of the top albums of 2013.[79] Meanwhile, Billboard ranked it at number four on its same list.[80] 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."[81] The album is nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.[82]

Chart performance[edit]

Pure Heroine debuted at number one on the New Zealand Albums Chart and was certified platinum in its first week on sale.[83] "Pure Heroine" held the number one spot on the album chart for the following two weeks.[84][85] After eleven weeks on the chart the album re-bounded to number two and was certified three times platinum.[86] The album also debuted at number one on the Australian Albums Chart in its first week on sale.[87] In its second week on the Australian chart, the album fell one place to number two and was certified Gold by ARIA.[88]

The album debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 129,000 copies.[89] 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.[90] In its third week the album slipped one spot to number seven selling 48,000 copies.[91] In its fourth week, the album recovered from position seven to position five, selling 40,000 units.[92] According to Nielsen SoundScan the album had sold 413,000 copies by December 3, 2013 and by December 19, 2013 the album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) selling 541,000 copies.[93][94]

Pure Heroine entered the Canadian Albums Chart at number two, selling 15,000 copies in its first week.[95] The album was certified platinum for shipments of 80,000 copies.[96] In the United Kingdom, the album sold 18,294 copies to debut at number four on the UK Albums Chart.[97]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Tennis Court"  
Joel Little3:18
2."400 Lux"  
  • Yelich O'Connor
  • Little
Little3:54
3."Royals"  
  • Yelich O'Connor
  • Little
Little3:10
4."Ribs"  
  • Yelich O'Connor
  • Little
Little4:18
5."Buzzcut Season"  
  • Yelich O'Connor
  • Little
  • Little
  • Yelich O'Connor (add.)
4:06
6."Team"  
  • Yelich O'Connor
  • Little
Little3:13
7."Glory and Gore"  
  • Yelich O'Connor
  • Little
Little3:30
8."Still Sane"  
  • Yelich O'Connor
  • Little
Little3:08
9."White Teeth Teens"  
  • Yelich O'Connor
  • Little
Little3:36
10."A World Alone"  
  • Yelich O'Connor
  • Little
  • Little
  • Yelich O'Connor (add.)
4:54
Total length:
37:08

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Pure Heroine.[99]

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2013)Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[100]1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[101]14
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[102]17
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[103]21
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[104]2
Croatian Albums (HDU)[105]42
Danish Albums (Hitlisten)[106]12
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[107]19
French Albums (SNEP)[108]27
German Albums (Media Control)[109]13
Greek Albums (IFPI)[110]47
Irish Albums (IRMA)[111]4
Italian Albums (FIMI)[112]43
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[113]1
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[114]4
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[115]58
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[116]9
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[117]8
UK Albums (OCC)[118]4
US Billboard 200[119]3

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2013)Position
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[120]2
US Billboard 200[121]64

Certifications[edit]

RegionCertificationSales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[122]Platinum70,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[123]Platinum80,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[124]3× Platinum45,000^
United States (RIAA)[125]Gold500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

RegionDateFormat(s)Label
Australia[126]27 September 2013CD, digital downloadUniversal Music
New Zealand[127]
United States[128]30 September 2013Lava Records, Republic Records
Germany[129]25 October 2013Universal Music
Ireland[130]Virgin EMI Records
United Kingdom[131]28 October 2013
Germany[132]1 November 2013LPUniversal Music
United Kingdom[133]11 November 2013Virgin EMI Records
Australia[134]15 November 2013Universal Music
New Zealand[135]
United States[136]19 November 2013Lava Records, Republic Records

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wheeler, Brad (4 October 2013). "In an age of manufactured stars, Lorde is a refreshing change". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 14 October 2013. "The 16-year-old art-pop sensation has taken in the landscape with her oversized eyes, and she has seen the music-chart needle and the damage done." 
  2. ^ Gold Teeth, White Teeth, and Lorde's 'Pure Heroine' | PopMatters
  3. ^ a b c Weiner, Jonah (28 October 2013). "Lorde's Teenage Dream". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  4. ^ http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/5819883/grammy-awards-2014-full-nominations-list-complete-nominees
  5. ^ a b "Taking Flight". 21 May 2013. 
  6. ^ White, Caitlin (21 May 2013). "Taking Flight: 16-Year-Old Ella Yelich-O’Connor vs. Lorde, Popstar". Pigeons and Planes. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  7. ^ White, Caitlin (5 October 2013). "NZ newest pop star". Tom Cardy. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Click on the pic to listen to the debut Lorde EP. All done by us at Golden Age.". 22 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Lorde: Behind the success story (+audio)". 2012-05-02. 
  10. ^ "Album's all done, am away next week but can do week after?". 2012-08-12. 
  11. ^ Lorde "Tennis Court" Sheet Music - Download & Print. musicnotes.com. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  12. ^ http://noisey.vice.com/blog/meet-lorde-shes-a-talented-teenage-badass
  13. ^ http://noisey.vice.com/blog/meet-lorde-shes-a-talented-teenage-badass
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  16. ^ a b c d e f g Lipshutz, Jason (25 September 2013). "Lorde, 'Pure Heroine': Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  17. ^ Lipshutz, Jason (6 September 2013). "Lorde: The Billboard Cover Story". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
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  41. ^ Andrew Trendell (18 September 2013). "Kanye West, Lorde perform on Later With Jools Holland". Gigwise. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
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  45. ^ Rap-up.com
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  50. ^ http://www.idolator.com/7498318/lorde-tour-dates-2#more-7498318
  51. ^ http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2013/12/16/lorde-announces-2014-north-american-tour/4039559/
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External links[edit]