November 8, 2013

REMIX(ES) OF THE WEEK: Lorde’s “Royals”

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My lifestyle closely resembles that of an ancient hermit, but when I do leave my apartment or Club Olin, I’m amazed by what music is considered “mainstream.” In particular, let’s talk about the song “Royals” by Lorde.  It seems like everywhere I go people are singing that song (usually not well, I might add). Yes, I’ll admit it’s pretty damn catchy, but in my opinion the rest of Pure Heroine is way better. Last week I was discussing this with a close friend, and in reference to the public’s fascination with Lorde she responded, “Everyone needs to stop singing ‘Royals’ all the time. THEY DON’T KNOW HER.” Neither does my friend, but I see her point: knowing one song by an artist does not make you an expert in his or her work.

So what do we know about Lorde? As you’ve probably heard, she’s 17 years old, from a suburban town in New Zealand and she released her astonishing debut album Pure Heroine on September 30.  She’s received an incredible amount of attention lately, and I apologize if you find anything I say cliché or unoriginal. Though I usually try to feature new or underrated artists, it would be wrong of me to ignore Lorde in this space because 1. She’s bringing a novel sound to pop music, 2. Her work has been remixed so many times it’s impossible to avoid and 3. I am a huge fan.

I know hipsters everywhere have already made this clear, but “Royals” is not a new song, and Lorde did not just appear out of nowhere in September. She was “discovered” years ago and signed to Universal when she was 14. Her EP, The Love Club (which contains pop anthem “Royals”), was released on Soundcloud in November 2012, and then on CD and vinyl in March 2013. The buzz surrounding her actually began about a year ago, first with her song, “Tennis Court.”

So though Lorde has other music, Pure Heroine is her first album, and I absolutely love it. It’s cohesive, inventive and I think in an era of over-produced pop music it’s refreshing to hear something that complements the vocals rather than covering them up. I like to compare her style to that of Majical Cloudz. Though the Canadian duo of Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto is a bit more morose, it is the same basic premise: strong, clear vocals with minimal synth pop production. For these two groups, this formula works splendidly.

After many listens (no joke about “many” — I’m well into the double digits), I’ve decided that “Royals” is one of the weakest tracks on the album. Yes the lyrics are fun and many teens and tweens can relate, but if you compare that song to “White Teeth Teens,” “400 Lux” or “Buzzcut Season” it is clear that “Royals” may be catchy initially, but it is not nearly as powerful as her other work. Even looking back to The Love Club, I would pick “Bravado” over “Royals” any day. However, there have been plenty of remixes of “Royals,” and I’ve really enjoyed collecting and comparing them. Probably the most well known is the one released by Rick Ross, and put plainly, it’s weird. Below are three of my favorite remixes; I think they show a wide range of what can be done with “Royals,” and they all focus on different aspects of the song.