New Zealand songstress Lorde is one of the most hyped acts in pop music this summer. Her debut single “Royals” is currently sitting at number 12 on the iTunes singles chart and she boasts the likes of Grimes as her fan.
Last night the 16-year-old singer made her American debut at a sold out show at Le Poisson Rouge. We were there to hear cuts from her new album, discover whether or not she lives up to the hype, and to marvel at that amazing head of hair.
So what did we learn?
1) She Lives Up To The Hype
By now we’re used to discovering new pop divas on the internet, but we’re also used to being let down when we see them in person. Remember Lana Del Rey’s disasterous first shows? In the age of Garage Band and YouTube, a pop hit can be born without the singer ever having to sing in person, so it’s always nerve-wrecking to see your favorite new pop act (that you found online) in person for the first time.
Lorde can sing in person. In fact, she can sing very well. Her voice actually possesses more strength and depth in concert than on her recordings. Not to mention she has a commanding stage presence that often slips to reveal an excited, humble and winsome teenage girl under the pop diva’s mask.
Basically, she’s better in person than she is on tape and that’s a very rare and very exciting thing to discover.
2) She’s The Anti-Pop Pop Star
The pop market is saturated with women in their 20s who wear outlandish wigs and outrageous costumes. They strive to project a false sense of coquettish girlishness, vampy sexiness or an unearthly combination of the two.
Lorde doesn’t do any of these things.
There are no wigs, no pyrotechnics, no hearts made out of hands, no lollipops, no back up dancers, no giant eggs, no revealed skin, and no thinly veiled, coy references to marijuana.
I mean, at one point in the night, you could smell an overreaching batch of pot in the crowd, to which Lorde giggled, “I can smell it.” But she wasn’t pretending she didn’t know what it was.
She’s just a precocious teen in a black dress singing pop songs.
It’s sumptuous in it’s spareness and something that obviously sets her apart from everyone else on the scene right now.
3) She’s Still Growing — And That’s a Good Thing
Half of the songs in Lorde’s set have been released and the other half were from her new album. So, basically, last night’s concert wasn’t just an American debut, it was a preview of what’s to come–and the crowd was into it. By the end of the show, the audience was clapping along with the songs they’d never heard before. You can already find live bootlegs and enthusiastic reviews of the new songs online.
The consensus is that fans of her EP have nothing to worry about. The new album should be great.
4) She Really Does Have The Best Hair
In a pop world full of candy floss wigs and half shaved scalps, Lorde would stand out just because she still has her own hair. And what a head of hair it is!
Throughout the night, numerous fans murmured in awe, “Her hair...”
I mean, look at it. It’s gorgeous.
5) She’s Going To Be Huge
The crowd that assembled at Le Poisson Rouge last night was a strange mix of girls in their late teens wearing flower crowns, mainstream couples in their mid-20s, excited pop enthusiasts, corporate bros, and chic SoHo gals (and a few middle aged men who were probably from the record company). The crowd was also undoubtedly enthusiastic about Lorde. Everyone seemed to know all the words to all of her already released songs–and enthusiastically listened to her new cuts.
A lot of up-and-coming pop stars have an early and ardent fanbase, but Lorde’s seems to already cut through a variety of demographics that don’t usually go out for pop music, which means there’s a bigger chance that her debut album will strike a more universal chord.
The one fault in her set seemed to be that she left the audience wanting more. People applauded for a few minutes, waiting for an encore that didn’t come. There was marked disappointment from the guys around me.
“Well, I guess that’s it,” one young man in a crisp gingham shirt said to his friends.
“She doesn’t have any more songs,” his friend replied.
“Nah,” said the young man. “It’s past her curfew.”
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]