Why Lorde's Royals defined the decade in music

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 31 Dec 2019, 10:42AM
Lorde and Joel Little.

Why Lorde's Royals defined the decade in music

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 31 Dec 2019, 10:42AM

Billboard has named New Zealand musician Lorde's debut single Royals as a song that defined the decade.

The song was released in 2013 by then 15-year-old Ella Yelich-O'Connor, and the hit catapulted the New Zealander to worldwide critical acclaim.

"The singer-songwriter's debut singe immediately garnered attention for its deep, bass-thumping beat and her vocal delivery that offered a lesser-told pop narrative," a writer for the magazine and music chart publication wrote.

Producer Joel Little, who co-wrote the track with Lorde told Billboard he recognised something special in the teenager. "She had amazing lyrics, almost just like poetry on a page,".

The song features lyrics inspired by her teenage years in suburban Auckland.

She sings in the first verse "I've never seen a diamond in the flesh, I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies. I'm not proud of my address...in the torn-up town, no post-code envy."

Billboard named Lorde's Royals as one of the decade's stand-out songs. Photo / File
Billboard named Lorde's Royals as one of the decade's stand-out songs. Photo / File

Little says Lorde's decision to upload the track to Soundcloud where users could listen to the song for free helped the song take off.

Royals went on to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It remained there for nine consecutive weeks, breaking a record held by Alanis Morrisette in the process, for topping the Alternative Songs chart.

It earned Lorde two Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.

In an interview with Billboard, Little named Royals as a turning point in the decade's music landscape.

"[Royals] signalled a change in the landscape of how songs needed to sound," he says.

"Up until that point, there were faster tempos and more layers, those were the songs that were doing really well. And then we came out with a song that was just a voice and a minimal backdrop. That made people [realise] there's power in telling a story that way."

In the past year, Little has worked with Taylor Swift, The Jonas Brothers and Tove Lo. He says the song's success still blows his mind.

Lorde's second album Melodrama was released in 2017.