I actually kind of skipped all the buzz around this song when it came out. I knew it was a big deal and that Lorde was apparently pretty young but somehow, I just never learnt that much about it. I've got to admit, this was probably some kind of reverse-popularity trait I was exhibiting at the time, where I made a big deal of refusing to listen to the thing that everyone in the known universe seemed to be listening to, simply for the happy label of being ALTERNATIVE. I've since given up on this idea on the grounds that a) It's kind of arrogant and b) It's completely pointless. I mean, some of the things I like best in the world are popular. If I gave up all popular things, I'd be giving up the Beatles, which would be like giving up breathing. (One of my friends refuses to watch Breaking Bad on the grounds that it's really popular at the moment. *shrugs* I can't judge.)
But anyway, it was actually a few months later that I went online and found the Internet was STILL exploding about this new singer-songwriter. This time, I learned she was only a year older than me and got kind of intrigued. But it was only when I typed her name into Google, that I realised just how crazy everyone was going for this hit song she'd released, titled Royals.
I think I'd heard the song vaguely a few months back when it was getting major airplay and had just kind of zoned out probably because zoning out seems to constitute a worryingly big part of my life. But then I got a thousand comments online from people who basically seemed to want to marry this song and shove an eternity ring on its' finger. By the time I clicked on the Youtube link, I'd heard so much about how revolutionary this song was, I was practically expecting to see Jesus resurrected halfway through.
I've never seen a diamond in the flesh
I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies
And I'm not proud of my address.-Lorde.
When my mother walked into my bedroom a few minutes later, she found me dancing around the room with the song on repeat as I sang along to the chorus waving my hands in the air like the Harry Potter kids when they sing the school song.
It says a lot about me that I know all the words to that song.
I then promptly started screaming at her about how Lorde was my new goddess and how had we not been exposed to this genius before. She looked concerned and told me to keep it down before she left the room, which is most people's standard response to me. I spent the rest of the night with the song on repeat.
But everybody's like
Gold teeth, grey goose, tripping in the bathroom,
Bloodstained ball gowns, smashing up hotel rooms
We don't care, we're driving Cadillacs in our dreams-Lorde.
That verse alone is pretty much one of the bedrocks of the song. It's a song calling out the constant standards pushed on everyone by the rich and famous who act as if everyone in the world can afford tigers on gold leashes and their own personal jets. That's the pretty basic message and you could argue that it's been done before.
But there's something pretty cool about the fact that it's a sixteen-year-old girl-or sixteen at the time-that's pointing this out, and that it's someone who's part of the very generation that's grown up with all this media marketing. It's cool that it's her, this girl from New Zealand who made her own way and apparently has a reputation for doing things her own way, that pointed out the hypocrisy of holding everyone to the financial standards that only a few can reach. Oh, and also she points out that she and her friends? Are JUST FINE with the fact they might not reach those standards.
We aren't caught up in your love affair
And we'll never be royals
It's not in our blood
That kind of lux just ain't for us
We crave a different kind of buzz-Lorde.
Oh, and I love the fact that the lyrics are kind of hip-hop. Not hip-hop precisely but sort of edged with hip hop. Because a lot of hip hop songs are the ones that project this image of fame and money and riches-though it's a big thing with mainstream culture in general. There's a big thing with "We know everyone should be equal but it's so awesome to be rich" in the media, I think most people would agree.
And of course, Lorde herself has pointed out the irony of the song-because this was the one that got her the big hit and that got her access to the hidden world of fame and money and excess riches. Heck, she could probably own a few islands herself if she wanted. But-and here's the cool part-she's still the same person-apparently.
And that's kind of the other message of the song. Look at these lyrics:
And everyone who knows us knows
We're fine with this
We didn't come from money-Lorde.
You can call me Queen Bee
And baby, I'll rule, I'll rule, I'll rule
Let me live that fantasy.-Lorde.
That kind of serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lorde's talking about living her fantasy in the future-which being a successful recording artist, I guess she is. But she's "fine with it." The money isn't important to her, or at least it's not the main deal. So in spite of entering this world of "gold teeth, grey goose, tripping in the bathroom"-she's still not caught up in the love affair with riches, and she's still the "Queen" of her own world-where the things that are important to her matter.
Oh, and that's another thing that makes me want to eternally scream about Lorde to strangers in the street. "You can call me Queen Bee." She wants to be Queen. She wants to be the best. She's not shy about wanting to be the best. She's honest and upfront about it. Yeah, she wants to be the best. So what?
This might not sound that earth-shattering but there seems to be kind of a trend that girls shouldn't be honest about being ambitious. Although we've come a long way from being seen as potential housewives whose ideal wedding present is a blender-shout out, Father of the Bride-there's still this niggling little implication that girls shouldn't be confident. No, they should be shy. Should downplay their abilities. They shouldn't be honest about what they want. This song basically takes that idea, screws it into a ball, spits on it and chucks it out the window. Lorde wants to be Queen Bee, and by God, she's going to be.
And then you get these lines.
We're bigger than we ever dreamed
And I'm in love with being Queen-Lorde.
Again, weirdly self-prophetic. I reckon Lorde could take over from Sybil Trelawney any day. She could do her own chorus on how Snape killed Dumbledore.
"Severus fired the Avada Kedavra, Albus fell back, wasn't heard from after-"
But just to make her cooler, Lorde basically predicted her own success. And what's more, she predicted how she'd kind of react to it. By being queen of her own career-and not buying into all the expectations placed on her for being a singer or a public figure. She's kind of in love with doing things her own way-and kicking the expectations in the teeth. Which is cool.
Oh, and I love the beats to the song. They sound kind of like someone clicking away their fingers the entire time. It just adds to the whole do-it-yourself vibe. It's awesome.
So, that's Royals and it's basically the song that introduced me to Lorde. Which means that it's on top of my adored things list for all time. Overall, this song is pretty revolutionary. It challenges the ideas that we've taken for granted for a pretty long time. It's even got some feminist vibes as well. That's a lot for a first pop song.
And I'm still listening to it 24/7. So there's that.