Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor (born 7 November 1996), known professionally as Lorde (pronounced “lord”), is a New Zealand singer, songwriter and record producer. Taking inspiration from aristocracy for her stage name, she is known for employing unconventional musical styles and thoughtful songwriting. Born in the Auckland suburb of Takapuna and raised in neighbouring Devonport, Lorde expressed interest in performing at local venues in her early teens. She signed with Universal Music Group in 2009 and collaborated with producer Joel Little in 2011 to start recording material.
Universal Music commercially released the pair’s first collaborative effort, an extended play (EP) titled The Love Club, in 2013. The EP’s international chart-topping single “Royals” helped Lorde rise to prominence. Her debut studio album Pure Heroine followed that year and achieved critical and commercial success. The following year, Lorde curated the soundtrack for the 2014 film The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 and recorded several tracks, including the single “Yellow Flicker Beat”. Her second studio album Melodrama (2017) garnered widespread acclaim and debuted at number one in the United States.
Lorde’s music is primarily electropop and contains elements of subgenres such as dream pop and indie-electro. Her accolades include two Grammy Awards, two Brit Awards and a Golden Globe nomination. She appeared in Time’s list of the most influential teenagers in 2013 and 2014, and the 2014 edition of Forbes 30 Under 30. In addition to her solo work, she has co-written songs for other artists, including Broods and Bleachers. As of June 2017, Lorde has sold over five million albums worldwide.
Life and career
In January 2016, Lorde ended her relationship with Lowe; she then relocated to Herne Bay, where she purchased a NZ$2.84 million home. At the 2016 Brit Awards in February, Lorde and David Bowie’s final touring band gave a tribute performance of his 1971 song “Life on Mars”. Pianist Mike Garson, a frequent band member for Bowie, explained that Bowie’s family and management selected Lorde because he admired her and felt she was “the future of music”. Later that year, Lorde co-wrote “Heartlines”, a song by New Zealand music duo Broods from their album Conscious (2016).
The lead single from her second studio album Melodrama, “Green Light”, was released in March 2017 to widespread acclaim; several publications ranked it as one of the best songs of the year, NME and The Guardian placing it in the top spot on their respective lists. It achieved moderate commercial success, reaching number one in New Zealand, number four in Australia and number nine in Canada. Later that month, she co-wrote and provided background vocals for American indie pop band Bleachers’s song “Don’t Take the Money”, taken from their album Gone Now (2017).
On Melodrama, Lorde attempted to showcase her maturity as a songwriter and incorporated her post-breakup introspection. The album was released in June 2017 and received widespread acclaim; Metacritic placed it second on their list of the best-received records of 2017 based on inclusions in publications’ year-end lists, behind Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. It reached number one on the US Billboard 200, earning Lorde her first number one on the chart, and on album charts of Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It earned a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year at the 60th ceremony. Two other singles from the album were released: “Perfect Places” and a remix of “Homemade Dynamite” featuring Khalid, Post Malone and SZA.
To promote Melodrama, Lorde embarked on an international concert tour, the first leg of which took place in Europe in late 2017, featuring Khalid as the supporting act. She later announced the North American leg, held in March 2018, with Run the Jewels, Mitski and Tove Styrke as opening acts. A political controversy occurred in December 2017 when Lorde cancelled her scheduled June 2018 concert in Israel following an online campaign by Palestinian solidarity activists supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. While Lorde did not explicitly indicate her reasons for cancelling, she admitted that she had been unaware of the political turmoil there and “the right decision at this time is to cancel”. Pro-Palestine groups welcomed her decision, while pro-Israel groups were critical of the cancellation. Billboard included Lorde on their 2017 edition of 21 Under 21. In November 2018, Lorde became a patron of MusicHelps (formerly the New Zealand Music Foundation), a musical charity helping New Zealanders who are vulnerable to or experiencing serious health issues.