Saturday, November 9, 2013

Does it Rock: Lorde, "Royals"

While Lorde's debut hit single may not, strictly speaking, be my thing, I respect it. It's a concerted effort to do and be different, and to make something good and distinct. It follows along the thread of recent years that saw Florence and Lana del Rey emerge, proving the market for female singers who succeed purely on vocal talent and songcraft, without as much fidelity to traditional instrumentation as an Amy Winehouse or Adele. (The threads are related but different.)

The song was just on the brink of being done for me, when something odd happened. I heard it out in the world. I was sitting in a waiting room, with the muffled sound of a Top 40 radio station playing elsewhere in the building. I was hearing some pop song or other - I think it was the one Ellie Goulding did with Calvin Harris but I'm not sure. I think Ellie's got a fine voice, but that song is not much for me. And then this one came on after it and I felt myself nodding my head... yes. It had gotten into my skin to where I could go without hearing it again ever and be very happy, but to hear it out there in the world (as opposed to at work, where it plays every 6 hours on schedule) was so palate-cleansing.

That's when I realized the value of songs like these, songs that are clearly different from run-of-the-mill pop songs, but become grating after a while anyway. At the very least, they break that monotony, and they sound way better because of it. I will never reach for Lorde over the new Arcade Fire album, but waiting to go into an office, amongst a string of otherwise undistinguished tunes, it's a welcome respite.

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