By now, Lorde’s smash hit, “Royals,” has become something of an irony-laden, self-fulfilling prophecy. (In case you’ve been living in a hobbit-hole: The “fantasy” that the 17-year-old New Zealand singer sends up is pop-star ostentation.) After 5 million copies sold in the U.S. alone, there’s little doubt that—whether on her sold-out world tour or shopping excursions with buddy Taylor Swift—the reality is this: Contrary to the song, the 17-year-old born Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor has in fact seen a diamond in the flesh.
The thematic strain of “Royals” runs throughout Lorde’s pun-titled album, Pure Heroine. She often utilizes we as a pronoun in a way that doesn’t feel, well, royal. There’s a sense she’s speaking not just for an ambitious girl from Auckland but for an entire generation. On the album closer, “A World Alone,” she proclaims, “Maybe the Internet raised us / Or maybe people are jerks.” Probably a bit of both, especially for someone who has more than a million Twitter followers and more than one tasteless blog devoted solely to dissecting her looks.
If Lorde’s success hasn’t proved she’s wise beyond her years, one line from Pure Heroine’s first track, “Tennis Court,” might. “Everything’s cool when we’re all in line for the throne,” she sings. “But I know it’s not forever.”—Colin St. John