Oh, to be young, gifted and Lorde.
Other teenagers have made a big splash in popular music of late — Shawn Mendes, Zara Larsson and Khalid among them. But none is a match for Lorde, the preternaturally literate songwriter who, at age 16 in 2013, gave us the smash song “Royals,” a street-clever but sophisticated fantasy about what it would be like to be queen for a day.
Last year, at 20, Lorde delivered her second album, “Melodrama,” another collection of minimalist electropop that suggested her life in New Zealand is more fascinating, intellectual and dramatic than whatever you’re doing.
Lorde is admired — no, worshiped — by young women around the world. It’s not just for the music; it’s for who she is, what she does and especially what she says.
For instance, about her first North American arena tour (which brings her to the Twin Cities for the first time Friday at Xcel Energy Center), she tweeted last Friday: “Touring this album is so intense it strips and retools me in the head n heart every single show. i’ve never felt anything like it.”
On tour, Lorde doesn’t exactly make predictable statements from the stage.
Sometimes she’s been confessional.
In Portland, she admitted to no one’s surprise: “Some of my favorite songs are about being lonely.” Then she launched into a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Solo,” the Daily Emerald reported.
But she can be kind of confused like the rest of us. After all, she just turned 21 in November. In her Phoenix-area concert, she introduced “Hard Feelings,” according to azcentral.com, by saying, it’s “a song about that very specific phenomenon where you break up with somebody, you have the conversation, and it’s very painful ... and then you just sit there for a moment because you know when you get up and leave, you’ve got to commit to it, right?”
Then there’s the playful Lorde. When she peered at the fans in Seattle’s KeyArena, she pronounced them bleeping beautiful and, according to thestranger.com, declared: “I’d definitely hit on you in a bar.”
Then there’s the silly Lorde. At Oakland’s Oracle Arena, home of the reigning NBA champs, she pointed out, as SF Weekly reported, “When I shower in the morning, I’ll be trying to avoid athlete’s foot from the Golden State Warriors.”
She even had encouraging words for fans going to Xcel Energy Center on Friday. Indirectly anyway. That’s because in Phoenix, she pointed out, according to azcentral.com, “I never know what day of the week it is when I’m touring. It’s impossible to know. But Fridays are special.”
So are interviews with Lorde. She hasn’t granted an interview while on tour but she talked to various media last year when she released “Melodrama” and before the Grammys this winter when she was the lone female nominee for album of the year. Here are some things she said.
On why she adopted the stage name Lorde:
“I don’t know, it’s a bit boring: Ella Yelich-O’Connor. Can you imagine them shouting it at a festival? It just made sense to me to elevate it.” (Rolling Stone, May 15, 2017)
On how she would have reacted to the 16-year-old Lorde of “Royals” renown:
“I think I would have been annoyed by me. This very self-assured 16-year-old, who seemed to think she knew everything. Writhing around on TV with bad, kind of broken movements. Wearing these weird clothes.” (theguardian.com, June 2017)
On winning two Grammys in 2014 for her first album, including song of the year for “Royals”:
“It was just one of those nights that kept on giving. Jay-Z shook my hand, and Beyoncé acknowledged that I existed, which was the best thing. Being addressed by Beyoncé, it gives you this elixir of confidence and beauty and strength.” (Billboard, Jan. 20, 2018)
On staying in a business hotel in New York City while recording her second album with producer Jack Antonoff at his Brooklyn apartment:
“In a lot of ways I felt like a little monk, drifting down into the subway, being very solitary and just thinking about the music all the time and not really socializing very much. Every once in a while, a sweet little NYU student would come up to me and say some lovely thing, but really I felt like I was able to lose touch with myself as a person of note, which is a really valuable thing.” (Rolling Stone, May 15, 2017)
On “Melodrama” following the breakup of her romance with her photographer boyfriend: “It isn’t a breakup album. It’s a record about being alone. The good parts and the bad parts.” (New York Times, April 12, 2017)
On how she changed while making “Melodrama”:
“That whole period of time between 19 and 20 changed the way I saw the world. I think what I really experienced was a sort of breakdown of the black-and-white, good-and-bad way of thinking. I am not very good at seeing when people are lying to me, or things like that, and I felt the grief of being deceived for the first time, or being let down for the first time, in this very adult way. And I did really grieve saying goodbye to being a kid, but I feel quite calm coming out of it, I feel good.” (nme.com Nov. 22, 2017)
On being an introvert offstage and an extrovert onstage:
“I’m a writer first, and writers are some of the most introverted kooks there are. It definitely makes no sense, but I have to bridge the gap and do what needs to be done for the work. I’m painfully shy, and I have horrific stage fright. It doesn’t come naturally to me at all. As a writer, I always knew I would do something, but I didn’t know it would be music. This is the first year I’ve felt unbridled and truly confident. Still ... you have to draw yourself out in such a way you think you could never do it again. I have a robust prescription of beta blockers.” (Vanity Fair, June 2017)
On not sounding like her pop peers:
“I guess writing this record I really dialed out of what was happening in music. I tried quite hard to do that and actually listened for the first time to a lot of quite classic music, a lot of really classic songwriters — Joni Mitchell, Don Henley, Paul Simon — and really just tried to reconnect with this exquisite craftsmanship.” (npr.org, June 15, 2017)
On the challenges of maintaining a friendship with Taylor Swift:
“There are certain places you can’t go together. Certain things you can’t do. There are these different sets of considerations within the friendship. It’s like having a friend with an autoimmune disease.” (theguardian.com, June 2017)
On being a spokesperson and role model:
“I’ve never felt like a spokesperson or a role model or anything like that, really — because I know how violently I rejected those figures when I was growing up. But also, I think there is no one young person that can communicate what it’s like to be a young person. And I think even in the last few years since [‘Pure Heroine’] came out, it’s so wonderful that there’s been such an influx of young voices and young people who are so informed and so culturally aware. And it definitely takes the pressure off me, because I don’t think anyone’s thinking about me anymore as, like, ‘Oh, we’ve got this one person we need to hold up.’ ” (npr.org June 15, 2017)