You know how there are those bands and artists who have that one awesome song, or that one stellar album and are the talk of the town and everyone is hyping them as the next big thing? Then, all of a sudden, they’re forgotten about. No longer are they the popular topic of conversation, the chosen soundtrack for the hottest party of the year or half the worlds style icon. Now, they’re just that person who was famous once and you laugh when their one-hit-wonder comes on the radio and ask your friends ‘whatever happened to this guy?’.
Well as soon as the magical voice of Lorde resonated around Vector Arena on Saturday night for the launch of iHeartRadio, I knew that scenario isn’t going to be the case for 16-year-old Aucklander Ella Yelich-O’Connor. She isn’t going to become some young, kiwi school-girl who had a few catchy songs back in the day before dropping off the face of the earth. This girl is going to be huge. Why you ask?
1. She’s got one hell of a voice
It’s confident, sexy, rousing and has an incredible range which is showcased in every song. It’s certainly not the voice you’d expect from your typical gawky 16-year-old teen, but Lorde doesn’t fit that stereotype one bit. She’s been likened to the cinematic sounds of moody singer Lana Del Rey but she shouldn’t be lumped into the same category. Lorde has a unique take on today’s crowd favourite – alternative pop music, and it deserves its own credit because there’s no true comparison.
This voice didn’t falter in concert, it came across at recording quality, no hint of strain on those high notes and an incredible confidence with every word sung. She kicked off the show with three crowd favourites from the Love Club EP. She emerged from a silhouette of sheets singing Bravado, the ultimate build-up song which quickly sent chills down my spine and got the 5000 strong fan-base screaming and singing along. I’m sure everyone in the crowd knew in that moment that they were in for a fantastic show.
2. She’s not your average young popstar
This girl is so much better than most of the young teen singers who dominate the airwaves for one glaringly obvious reason – she writes her own music. Not only that, but it’s great music which is suited to people from all walks of life. Her songs are filled with a surprising maturity for a 16-year-old. I’m sure when I was that age I was not so wise but it’s for that reason that people of all ages can relate to her lyrics. There’s none of this ‘sounding the same’ business when it comes to her songs. Each tune takes on a life of its own while all still having that wicked bass beat, which is what makes it a ‘Lorde’ song. Last nights gig showed there’s more where that came from. Most of the songs she played were new ones set to be released on her debut album Pure Heroine later this month, and they didn’t disappoint. A crowd favourite was White Teeth Teens, and Buzzcut Season has the potential to be the next Royals, I can see it ruling the charts in no time.
3. She’s still got so much time to grow
So often young music stars start out strong and crash when the pressures of the job get to them. But it’s a year on since Lorde released Royals, and so far she’s looking good. I think a bit of that is thanks to her management team keeping her hidden away from too much public attention and ensuring she doesn’t over do it. Many young musicians burn out, take Demi Lovato or Justin Bieber for example, but Lorde appears in control. On stage last night she was calm, composed and it was refreshing to see an act sip on a bottle of water between songs instead of swigging back half a bottle of beer. But in saying that, her stage presence isn’t quite there yet. She’s got the basics, but a bit more crowd interaction would help her concerts to become even more mesmerising. All the more reason her youth isn’t a disadvantage though because she’s got time to develop her live shows and I’m sure there will be plenty of fans ready to go through that growth with her.
4. She’s got a large and loyal fan base
That was made clear when tickets to this free concert of 5000 put on by iHeart Radio, were snapped up within 20 minutes of them going up online. The screaming gaggles flooded into the gig in excitement. They sang every word and cheered just as loud for the numbers they didn’t know as they did for the big hits.They were all for the sultry eyes and pouting lips, the constant flicks of her voluminous curly hair, and shimmies of her womanly hips. When Lorde told them she “doesn’t do encores” writing it off as lame and finishing on a new song no one knew, they were more receptive than ever. Which is surprising given fans normally kick up a fuss when the performer doesn’t finish on a chart-topping song. That call, off the back of only a five song EP seems risky but she pulled it off in every sense. It’s exciting times for her followers because now she has finally got some real on stage experience and there’s bound to be more trend-setting attitude where that came from.
5. She’s cracked the charts outside of New Zealand
Her impending overseas domination all started with Australia. Lorde was called up last minute in July to replace one of the biggest artists in the world, headline act Frank Ocean at Australia’s massive festival Splendour in the Grass. The pressure was on then and she performed. Next thing you know she’s topped the US Alternative charts with Royals, then just weeks later, the hit debut single crept into eighth place in the Billboard Hot 100.
Billboard says the Takapuna teenager has gone from selling slightly more than 1000 downloads per week in late May to 160,000-plus in weekly downloads this month. This tells you a thing or two about Lorde, she’s not your typical Kiwi musician who fails to get much of a fan base overseas. She’s ready for world domination and last night will be the last time anyone ever sees her in concert for free. Watch this space.