A massive part of Lorde’s success — reiterated in Rolling Stone’s cover story on the singer — has to do with what every teenager is known to do: ignore the rules. After getting signed by Universal Music at age 13, Lorde took her time working on debut record Pure Heroine, putting her Love Club EP up on SoundCloud for free at the end of 2012 after she was told that “Royals” would never get radio play.
We saw how that turned out. Not only is Lorde the youngest solo artist to top the chart since Tiffany and “Could’ve Been” in 1988, “Royals” now holds the record for the longest reign on the Alternative Songs chart by a lead female, usurping Alanis Morissette and her 1995 hit, “You Oughta Know.”
That’s not to mention the multitude of Grammy nominations.
Part of Lorde’s success most certainly could be attributed to the catchiness of jams like “Royals” and “Team” — and her masterful songwriting ability — but a big chunk is also courtesy of her attitude. A lot of it has to do with her refusal to adhere to some kind of pop plasticine image that’s on its way out, anyway.
“On Tumblr, everyone has dark lips, and people dress the way I dress,” Lorde told Rolling Stone. “My look is becoming more mainstream.”
Or is it becoming more accepted because Lorde has paved the way by refusing to dress like a shipment of lollipops exploded all over her frock? Maybe.
Still, Lorde is opening the door for the weirdos to feel like they have a voice in the pop world — and for the less-than-weirdos to unleash that part of themselves that’s kind of over gettin’ told to throw my hands up in the air (so there).
Here are five times Lorde refused to do what she was told — to good effect:
Lorde Refused To … Turn That Smile Upside Down
Lorde appears on the cover of Rolling Stone sporting the barest of smirks — as well as lips lined in black. The toothless look is a signature for the singer, so when a photographer at a shoot in New York told her, “Pop your hip out. Try to look cute. Big smiles, now,” she replied with the candor we’ve all come to love and admire: “I’m #1 in the this country not because I flirt and wink and all that sh—, but because I’ve done exactly what I want to do.”
Yup, Lorde’s non-smile might not light up a room, but it does kick us pleasantly in the center of our black and jaded hearts.
Lorde Refused To … Dream That Tweenage Dream
When Lorde was first spotted at a school singing contest when she was 12 by Scott Maclachlan, head of A&R at Universal Music in Zealand, the plan was to “transform her into a tween Joss Stone,” according to Rolling Stone.
However, Lorde roundly declined that path and decided to follow her own songwriting ambitions rather than working with another pen jockey. Sure, that path was three years longer and more roundabout than route #1, but, in the end, it led somewhere much richer — figuratively and literally (hello, multi-million dollar publishing deal).
Lorde Refused To … Cater To Wordy Trends
When her label told the “Royals” singer that they wanted to make a lyric video for her smash single, she put her Doc Marten down. “I was like, ’We’re not doing that. No. None of the musicians I like make lyric videos,'” she told RS.
Instead, she make a video featuring her friends wandering around a desolate-looking city, much to the chagrin of her label.
Whatever, we all know the words to “Royals,” anyway.
Lorde Refused To … Take A Corny Pay Day
According to Maclachlan, Lorde has turned down gobs of money “that would make grown men weep” for opportunities that don’t jibe with her image. So we’re guessing a Lorde! energy drink is out of the question? For more reasons than one.
Lorde Refused To … Follow The Rules (Even As A Child)
Apparently, Lorde was telling adults to get out of her sandbox before she could walk with ease. When she was two, she tells RS, she was messing around with crafts at a daycare center when an adult told her that she was doing it wrong.
“I still remember looking up at her and being like, ’I’m in my own world. I know what I’m doing,’ ” she told the magazine.
Well, that’s the understatement of the year — and it’s only January.