Where previous generations of teenagers frequently had to endure middle-aged marketing managers’ ideas of what entertainment should look like, millennial teens were #blessed with one of pop culture’s greatest young laureates: New Zealand’s Ella Yelich-O’Connor, a.k.a. Lorde. After being spotted at a talent show and signing to Universal at age 12, she quickly chewed through a series of writing partners until she met Joel Little, a fellow Auckland native and former pop-punk frontman. Together, they wrote “Royals,” a song that not only defined her perspective—with its unimpressed, teenage dismissal of material obsessions—but also propelled her skeletal electro-pop debut, 2013’s Pure Heroine, to a Grammy nomination. She captured the late-night trains home, clandestine kisses, and heavy symbolism of your first love remembering to buy your favorite juice—little of which, she seemed to know, lasts. But Lorde’s feel for suburban adolescent disconnect catalyzed into precocious power moves—such as curating the soundtrack for the third Hunger Games movie—and an astute lens on the wider world on 2017’s Melodrama. Richer in sound and experience, the album found strength in different kinds of isolation: the temporary plight of the newly heartbroken and the lifelong fate of the writer.
HOMETOWNAuckland, New Zealand
BORNNovember 7, 1996