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Jafa of the Year: Lorde

Dec 10, 2014 Music

Lorde, woman of the world.

A friend of mine regularly Googles “Lorde face tattoo” because “it only takes a minute, and the rewards are potentially huge”. It’s only a matter of time before Lorde’s fanbase delivers with a line drawing of that now-iconic purple pout and mop of hair — in the Tumblr age, there’s no higher accolade.

It’s hard to imagine even the most ardent Young Nat getting the Prime Minister’s face inked on their person. But John Key is an everyman, relatable despite his success. Lorde is extraordinary.

Nine weeks on top of the Billboard charts, two Grammys, a performance with Nirvana, a collaboration with M.A.C, not just a song for The Hunger Games but an entire soundtrack — few achieve that in their lifetimes, let alone before their eighteenth birthday.

But the true measure of Lorde’s success is not her net worth (no matter what the Herald would have you believe) or even her music (though it is consistently very good), but the poise with which she’s handled herself in the spotlight.

She quotes Carver and Vonnegut in interviews and somehow avoids coming across as insufferable; she calls out reporters on their lazy or sexist questions; she identifies herself as a feminist when women decades her senior are still leery of the term.

Plus her taste is impeccable at an age when most of us didn’t have any at all. Even Taylor Swift, pop’s most media-savvy operator, reckoned early on to get her on side.

As a nation, we’re susceptible to “cultural cringe”, the suspicion that our best efforts wouldn’t even register internationally. But Lorde has achieved celebrity and acclaim on her terms, not the world’s.

She’s not only holding her own among the A-list but raising the bar for them, while the PM planks and derps and duckfaces on.

Simon Wilson on our other Jafa of the Year, Auckland’s man of the people, John Key.


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