Welcome back to The Recommender. Did you miss us? After a temporary hiatus, partly enforced due to a severe and unexpected computer malfunction, but also partly volunteered so we could ride out the endless waves of blog lists that swarm the online world through December (end of year lists) and the start of January (2013 ones-to-watch lists). We’re starting 2013 with a serious contender for the best discovery of the year. Yep, we think she’s that good. Welcome back. Welcome back to your favourite rambling tipster.
We return with a delivery of pop. Pop is something of a minefield. Step in the wrong direction and support from blogs like ours will incinerate only a moment after the artist has planted their first foot. Who dares walking that fine line? Who has the bravery to dance between the dangers? Who understands what it takes to find the secure gaps between the common, overly-cute, pop-by-numbers and the style that we’re more keen on, that comes with edges and enough gravitas to keep us interested? Well, we believe that a young, New Zealand artist called Lorde does. She may only be a princess today, but one day we expect her to become your new queen of pop.
Referencing the style of pop that she delivers is like skipping through some of the most interesting female solo artists of recent times. Helping her to negotiate the minefield are the likes of Lykke Li, with all her alternative theatre (see the track, Royals), whilst the pop accessibility of Marina lights the way to the throne (The Love Club), even the soulful coos of Adele at her most understated appear in the smaller corners of her music (Bravado), whilst the kooky cool of Uffie and the cross-genre edges of Santigold suggests a strength beyond that found with most other pretenders (Million Dollar Bills).
Lorde, real name Ella, understands what all good pop music needs. It’s aspirational, as she asks “let me be your ruler..let me live that fantasy“, on Royals. There’s usually four beats, although she’s not afraid to go tribal with the sticks. She talks to the every-man about subjects they’re looking for, such as love or peer pressures. There are grand, over-sized ideas which are accomplished using the precise production that only a proper studio and a quality producer can achieve. But she also has an ear for a melody, a set of clear choruses and an instant appeal.
After demonstrating all this pop sensibility she also knows how and when to challenge the listener. Off-beats are located where others would have kept it simple, and she regularly layers her own vocals lending them some gloomy, threatening lyrics. You can’t ever imagine Britney spitting out the lyrics, “Breathed so deep I thought I’d drowned, it feels better biting down“. That’s not something you would shelve next to the accessible, sugary style you might find on the X-Factor. Part of her magic is this sublime charm for writing pop music that’s sometimes inaccessible – she isn’t just prepared for the minefield, she’s designing her own!
That’s not to suggest she too isn’t a potential pop starlet. Her excellent voice might come in layers on tunes such as the exceptionally bright Royals, but each layer could be delivered alone and still stand tall. Each song on her recent Love Club EP could be a single (all made available to download for free on her site here), and each one is fizzing with excitement and drama. It won’t take you more than one listen to decide whether you like this music. It’s instant, like all great pop music. The fact that she’s giving her initial release away for free is a sign that this is an artist more focused on building an audience than trying to rush to the top.
Perhaps the most impressive part of this story is that the artist is only just sixteen years old, (she still attends Takapuna grammar school!). That makes her the perfect age to attract her peers, allowing her a common touch by covering the subjects of love and friendship without patronising them, but it also means that she should be savvy with how the Internet generation moves and shakes. No wonder the giant Universal label signed her up – having met with her parents first because the process started when she was just 12 years old, after a school video of her singing had found its way to the desks of their A&R department.
Her young age confirms just how early this stage is, so there is no doubting that the minefield is still laid out in full before her. At the time of this going to press, she only has just over 2000 likes on her Facebook, just over 600 followers on her Twitter, (both accounts started in November), her contact email is still a Gmail address, there are no press photos available, zero entries on Music Robot, and just a handful of appearances on Hype Machine. Expect that all to change very soon. We couldn’t think of a better way to kick start our 2013 than by covering an artist that is just starting out on her career. Consider this a post of fresh starts; Welcome back to The Recommender, and welcome to the world of Lorde. (MB)
LORDE – ROYALS
LORDE – THE LOVE CLUB
LORDE – MILLION DOLLAR BILLS