Lorde: Weird or Wonderful?
Published: Friday, February 7, 2014
Updated: Sunday, February 9, 2014 15:02
If I had to pick the most polarizing performance at the Grammys, I would choose Lorde’s. During her recital, young chart-topper sported her usual outré look: a conservative outfit, dark lipstick, and unadorned, waist-length hair. She sang in a gravelly timbre that sometimes resembled hissing, and, perhaps most unsettlingly, she twitched to the music instead of danced.
The commentary on Lorde’s performance seems to be split between two opinions. One faction found her act extremely eerie. Based on my unscientific research, this group is the majority. Websites like Twitter and Buzzfeed are littered with comments about Lorde’s “awkward”, “weird”, and even “paranormal” nature. Meanwhile, a small but vocal group of people has declared their love for Lorde’s originality. As I scrolled through the various condemnations and praises, I couldn’t decide whom to side with. Before I watched the Grammys, I considered Lorde a young but talented figure. I adored her wide variety of songs, most of which focus on loyalty and the importance of being genuine. I still enjoy her music, but I view Lorde differently now.
One reason why my perspective on Lorde has changed is because I never associated her songs with spooky, unusual qualities. I didn’t understand how her performance – with its dark tones and scary images – related to her song, “Royals”. I think “Royals” is a great piece, and I felt like Lorde’s dramatic performance detracted from its brilliance. Instead of focusing on the articulate, counter-cultural lyrics, Lorde’s act seemed to emphasize her own unusual demeanor. Her recital made me question my interpretation of her songs – was there a sinister undertone I hadn’t detected? A subliminal message I had failed to receive? I doubted it, but Lorde’s actions made me question my feelings about her music.
Despite my objections, though, I also thought Lorde’s presentation was valuable. Americans frequently complain that our celebrities rely on heavy makeup and revealing clothes to attract attention, and Lorde was definitely not doing that. Few adults in her position are courageous enough to ignore our society’s beauty conventions, and for that reason, I think Lorde should be admired. In fact, I think part of the reason many people found her behavior so unsettling is because it was completely indifferent to public opinion. Lorde wore what she felt like, sang in a natural tone, and projected herself how she wanted. Lorde’s performance was powerful, but it wasn’t polite. Lorde was expressing herself rather than seeking approval, and I think many people – myself included – aren’t used to that.
I understand why people think Lorde is unusual, primarily because I agree with them. However, I still think Lorde is an important figure because she’s so unaffected. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t ruffle her feathers if people mock her unusual clothes or makeup; if anything, she seems to find all the scrutiny ridiculous. What I find even more impressive than her fashion choices, though, is Lorde’s tendency to state her opinions so plainly. In the past few months, she has expressed her disdain for the media’s “lecherous gaze,” Justin Bieber’s antics, and female stars who are obsessed with appearances. It is virtually unheard of for a celebrity to voice such articulate views, and I find Lorde’s attitude refreshing. In one of her most popular songs, Lorde proudly declares that she and her friends are “not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things.” This line encapsulates her situation well. It is true that Lorde is not traditionally pretty, but she is still a force to be reckoned with.
Lorde is an intelligent person who identifies more with ordinary people than her glamorous peers, and for that reason, I think she’s quite likable. Beyond that, she is an impressive human being with an inspiring perspective. In sum, even though she’s odd, I’d rather have a million Lordes darting around in their black lipstick than a million Justin Biebers speeding through school zones and vandalizing houses.