The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Column | A royal anniversary: Lorde’s iconic ‘Pure Heroine’ turns 10

Courtesy of Genius
Cover art for Lorde’s album “Pure Heroine”, released on September 27, 2013.

Ella Yelich-O’Connor — better known as Lorde — was only 16 when she released her debut album, “Pure Heroine.” Today, on its 10th anniversary, the record remains a groundbreaking piece of art that has stood the test of time. 

“Pure Heroine” earned Lorde a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. “Royals,” the most popular track from the album, earned Lorde two Grammys: Best Pop Solo Performance and Song Of The Year.

At 16, Lorde earned the title of youngest artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Royals,” breaking the record previously set in 1987 with Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now.” 

However, this was not her first release. The New Zealander had previously dropped “The Love Club EP” a year earlier in 2012, with songs she’d later include in “Pure Heroine.” 

Perhaps due to either her age, being a relative newcomer to the music industry or just plain misogyny, Lorde was often compared to other female artists in the indie or alternative genre, such as Lana del Rey and Florence Welch. Though, Lorde proved herself with this album.

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“Pure Heroine” is a reflection of Lorde’s teenage years. While these are Lorde’s words, the experiences and feelings she sings about are very relatable and still resonate with young people today.

With songs like “400 Lux,” she channels the dreamy aura of youth with lyrics “I love these roads where these houses don’t change (And I like you)/ Where we can talk like there’s something to say (And I like you).” The lyrics, coupled with the deep bass and electronic pop consistent throughout the record, engulf the listener in an almost trance-like state. 

The album was produced by Lorde and New Zealand record producer Joel Little, who has since gone on to work with other major acts, like Taylor Swift and Gracie Abrams. Little’s electronic influence and attention to detail are very present in this record.

Some highlights on the record are the opening and final track: “Tennis Court” and “A World Alone.” In an interesting juxtaposition, “Tennis Court” opens the album with the lyrics “Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk?” while the last track closes the album with “The people are talking, people are talking/ Let ‘em talk.” With “Pure Heroine,” Lorde masters the art of producing a cohesive and consistent album while keeping the experience engaging for the listener. 

“Ribs” is a major standout track. Lorde takes you hand in hand through an ethereal and earnest journey about growing up. The song feels like it belongs in a coming of age montage. The bridge is almost a mantra: “I want ‘em back, I want ‘em back/ The minds we had, the minds we had.” In four minutes, “Ribs” channels a bittersweet nostalgia inherent to aging.

“Pure Heroine” became a staple of the indie pop genre and a cultural phenomenon. If you were to google the words “tumblr 2014” — for whatever reason, no judgment here — you would probably find half of the search results include a reference to Lorde’s first record. With its allusions to suburbia, coming of age, relationships and critiques on mainstream culture, this album marked the aesthetic of a generation.

Lorde’s popularity has skyrocketed since her debut. Four years after the success of “Pure Heroine,” she released the masterpiece that is “Melodrama,” with all-star producer Jack Antonoff.

In 2021, Lorde welcomed audiences to a new era with the record “Solar Power.” The track strayed away from the dark, electropop music she’d been making before, and instead played with the indie folk and psychedelic pop genres. 

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of “Pure Heroine,” Lorde posted a series of Instagram stories with lyrics from the album, including those of the songs “Royals,” “Buzzcut Season,” “Ribs” and “Team.” 

In an email newsletter sent out earlier today, Lorde addressed her audience and discussed the nostalgia regarding the special date, as well as what the record means to her now.

Ten years goes really fast,” the singer wrote. “One minute you’re wearing a leather collar with a giant crystal hanging off it to a Chanel party, and the next you’re blonde. A lot of stuff isn’t good after 10 years. But I am still totally touched by this sweet record. I have deep respect for the vision of the little one making it.”


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