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The Auckland-born pop star, Lorde, also known as Ella Yelich-O’Connor. Photo by: Photo of Lorde via Facebook

Pop star Lorde's Irish roots, individual style set her apart from her peers

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The Auckland-born pop star, Lorde, also known as Ella Yelich-O’Connor. Photo by: Photo of Lorde via Facebook

Alas, man cannot live on Irish music alone. Readers of this column have been reading about the sounds that tickle my ears from our culture, but I cannot exist on a diet of Irish and Irish American music alone.

When I need food that is the musical equivalent of a pop tart, I turn to the playlist of my two teenage daughters. I’ve been completely hooked for the last few months on Lorde, a singer that’s come out of left field with the hit single and now ubiquitous “Royals.”
Like most breakout stars, what makes Lorde so fascinating is that she sounds like nothing on the radio at the moment.

From that song began an obsession with the entire Pure Heroine album and a need to find out everything about Lorde. Two things stunned me when I began my research on her — she’s only 17 and her real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor!

She’s one of us! Her strong will and refusal to be just another pop tart reminds you of a certain other bald O’Connor that broke the pop mold before this O’Connor was born.

“Pop music doesn’t have to be stupid and alternative music doesn’t have to be boring,” she told MTV News recently. “You can mix the two together and create something cool that people will like because people have a brain. I think you can say something clever and say it in a highly accessible way!”

On Pure Heroine, she does that in a brilliant way. A profile in the most recent cover story on Rolling Stone reports the fact that she has read over 1,000 books in her short life, which probably explains why she has written brilliant lyrics about what it’s like to be a teen with a wizened and mature perspective that you’d expect from a parent.

The music has something for both white teeth teens and their parents. On “Ribs,” the intro begins with a gothic nod of foggy mood textures and multi-layers that call to mind early Enya. The music soon pulses with an electro-beat that places you right back to that time when Depeche Mode and Duran Duran posters covered your walls.  

Producer Joel Little, a former pop punk songwriter from the New Zealand band Goodnight Nurse, constructs these gothic, electronic masterpieces, setting the drum machine on “dance” or “dub step” mode right before he allows Lorde to let loose her teen poetry. Lorde and Little have mapped out a new horizon for music with Pure Heroine, a horizon that hints at hope but is by no means sunny all the time.

Lorde easily sold out three March dates at Roseland Ballroom in New York, along with the other 12 shows she booked throughout the U.S. This tour might be worth going on StubHub.com for and letting the scalpers have their way with your credit card. 

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