At the ripe old age of 16, Lorde (Ella Yelich-O’Conner) has several hit songs in her native New Zealand, a single (“Royals”) that’s getting global exposure and an upbeat profile in The Wall Street Journal. What sets this young talent apart from the typical pop starlet is her “elusive approach to publicity,” as the Journal put it, and her edge, reminiscent of the grungy, rebellious ’90s.
“Royals,” which reached 100,000 hits on YouTube within 24 hours, comes across as a counter to poppy perfection, eschewing typical aspirational and glamour themes for a more authentic depiction of teen life. “I thought it was time someone in popular music was saying what everyone my age was thinking: we don’t even have licenses, let alone Maybachs,” she told Bullett. Lorde’s debut album is set for release Sept. 30. —Maxine Gurevich
Image credit: Lorde