Lorde has had a pretty wild 2013 thanks to the success of her global smash “Royals” and the chart-topping success of her debut, Pure Heroine. But the one place she probably never thought she’d be is on a list next to Pope Francis.
But when mtvU announced its Man and Woman of the Year honors on Tuesday (December 10), there she was alongside his holiness, with each honored for their ground-breaking achievements and bold statements about music, life, consumerism and the importance of equality.
Both were lauded for unexpected declarations that went against the status quo in their respective communities. A year ago the world had never heard of 17 year-old New Zealand singer Ella Yelich-O’Connor. But in 2013 she broke through with a fresh voice for her generation with the chart topping single “Royals,” a takedown of our society’s focus on the excesses of luxury.
The song held the longest reign atop the Billboard Alternative Songs chart by a female solo artist and made Lorde, an MTV Artist to Watch, the youngest solo artist to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in more than 25 years. She did things her way, spoke her mind and proved that pop has many different forms, all while keeping an air of low-profile mystery by making sparse public appearances and performances.
This was also the year when Pope Francis spoke out about a range of contentious topics including: homosexuality, wealth accumulation, abortion and birth control, challenging the church to become more compassionate, inclusive and accepting of love over dogma, while also pushing the church to serve a broader purpose in the lives of its followers. He simultaneously questioned his own absolute authority, asking “Who am I to judge?” in reference to a person’s sexual preference, showcasing a radical sense of humility for a figure of his prominent stature.
“In a year filled with students speaking out on a wide range of issues, Pope Francis and Lorde took unexpected stands on issues that mattered to them, challenging the beliefs of many in their respective communities,” MTV president Stephen Friedman said. “As we look back and celebrate their contributions to society and culture over the past year, we look ahead with anticipation to see how their work will continue to ripple a wave of change in the years to come.”
Beginning December 11, mtvU will profile Pope Francis and Lorde to millions of students around the United States in short-form segments on-air and online.