The Mystique of the Artist

Recently dubbed ‘The New Queen of Alternative’, 16 year-old New Zealand native Lorde revealed in an interview with Billboard Magazine her desire to remain an enigma to the world. With the release of her debut album Pure Heroine, and the mounting success of singles ‘Royals’, ‘Tennis Court’, and now ‘Team’ across the world, Lorde is positioning herself as the antithesis of the modern archetypal pop star.

In her cover feature with the magazine, she disclosed that “in a perfect world, I would never do any interviews… and probably there would be one photo out there of me, and that would be it.” Lorde, real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor, prefers the impression of mystique, believing that “mystery is more interesting.” This aspiration has never been more pronounced than in this day and age, where over-sharing on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook has left little to the imagination. Lorde astutely recognises that “people respond to something that intrigues them instead of something that gives them all the information — particularly in pop, which is like the genre for knowing way too much about everyone and everything.”

In this way, Lorde can be seen as the anti-Miley Cyrus. The latter has established herself as a constant presence in the media spotlight since her provocative and poorly executed mash-up performance of ‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘Blurred Lines’ with Robin Thicke at the 2013 Video Music Awards. This has been followed expeditiously by a disturbing music video whereby she rides naked on a wrecking ball and seduces a sledgehammer, a series of highly sexualised photo shoots with famed photographer Terry Richardson, an apparent break-up between former fiancé Liam Hemsworth, a bevy of interviews and music performances and a recent – completely unprovoked – attack on celebrity victims of mental illness (Amanda Bynes and Sinead O’Connor) that resulted in all-out warfare with pop icon O’Connor. Many people see Cyrus’ behaviour as an attempt to annihilate the association with her eternal good-girl alter ego Hannah Montana, whilst others just view it as a cry for attention and a marketing ploy to bolster sales. It seems clear however that all this inflammatory behaviour is simply a way to hide the fact that Miley Cyrus has no real lasting talent.

In the comparatively small number of interviews that she has done, Lorde has revealed only morsels of information that provide us with a snapshot image of who she truly is; an obsession with reading as a child, how writing short stories since the age of ten has helped with her song writing, and her love of electronic, pop and hip-hop music. “You can step into Kanye’s world and it’s like you being there,” Lorde muses, admitting that she wants to make a “sweet, really cool rap song” in the future. The singer also proclaimed her love of Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus’ current hit ‘Wrecking Ball.’

Lorde’s live performances also display her rapport with simplicity. Performing her song ‘Royals’ (a #1 hit on the U.S. Billboard charts) on Good Morning America, the singer simply stands and delivers her lyrics with conviction. Dressed in simple, one might say ‘old-lady clothes’, the only movements are that of her hands, which seem to flow and bounce eerily to the beat of her music. This performance underlines Lorde’s immense talent, not only as a singer-songwriter, but also as a true performer and captivating entertainer. These two attributes are not always so easily intertwined, something that was made all too obvious through Lana Del Rey’s largely criticised performance of ‘Video Games’ on Saturday Night Live.

Having shattered the record for longest weeks on the alternatives song chart (a record previously held by Alanis Morisette’s 1995 classic ‘You Oughta Know’), Lorde has immersed herself in a torrent of worldwide success and critical acclaim. However, it seems as though the talented singer has managed to preserve her down-to-earth Kiwi persona and not fall victim to the hazards of the music industry. Lorde has remained true to her introverted self, presenting only a glimpse into the brilliantly complex passages of her mind and of her young life.

Fabrice Wilmann

The author Fabrice Wilmann

Fabrice Wilmann checking in. Third year Arts student majoring in French and Literature, with aspirations of one day becoming a book editor. My main literary interests at the moment include historical novels (Hilary Mantel) and autobiographies (ranging from Sarah Palin to Rafael Nadal). I find that television is the most cathartic tool in the world, and my ever-expanding collection includes Dark Angel, Buffy, Friends, Orphan Black, and classic Simpsons (to name a few). I detest the state of Australian politics, but find solace and entertainment in our American counterparts (though this may be attributed to TV series Veep, Scandal, and Political Animals).

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