Lorde: our lady of Takapuna

An overview of pop songwriter Lorde's career.

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Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Here is an overview of Ella Yelich-O'Connor’s career-to-date, including interviews with some of the people who work with her, taken from RNZ’s back-catalogue.

Lorde's ascent to pop royalty

 Now working with US producers Jack Antonoff and Frank Dukes, she's released two singles, 'Green Light' and 'Liability', from her album Melodrama, released June 16th 2017.

Ella Yelich-O'Connor - known more famously to a worldwide audience as Lorde - shot to fame with her hit single 'Royals' in 2013 and has not stopped topping music charts ever since. Signed to the Universal record label shortly after winning the Belmont Intermediate talent competition in 2009, Lorde moved onto a creative partnership with the former lead singer of Goodnight Nurse, Joel Little, releasing the Love Club EP on SoundCloud in November 2012. 'Royals' was spun off as a single in the summer of 2013 and soon thereafter topped charts in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Italy, and reached the Top 10 in most other Western countries.

Lorde's full-length debut, Pure Heroine, followed in September 2013 and it also became an international smash, earning double-platinum certification in the U.S., quintuple platinum certification in New Zealand, and going gold in the U.K. Further singles followed - 'Tennis Court' and 'Team' - the latter of which turned into a Top 10 hit in the U.S.

Lorde with her Tui awards for Single of the Year and the International Achievement Award at the 2015 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

October 2014 saw Lorde's first stadium concert tour of New Zealand, taking in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. Read our review of Lorde's Wellington concert.

Lorde performing on the TSB Arena, Wellington

Lorde performing on the TSB Arena, Wellington Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Mid-tour Ella attended the annual APRA Silver Scroll Awards to present the main award (which she and Joel Little received last year for 'Royals') to this year's winner. Ella and Joel were awarded the Most Performed New Zealand Work in New Zealand for their song ‘Team’, and the Most Performed New Zealand Work Internationally for ‘Royals’.

Ella YelichO'Connor (Lorde) accepts the Most Performed Work Award for the songs 'Team' (New Zealand) and 'Royals' (International) at the 2014 Silver Scroll Awards at TSB Arena

Lorde accepts the Most Performed Work Award for the songs 'Team' and 'Royals'. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Fans swarm around Lorde as she arrives back in Auckland from the Grammys.

Fans swarm around Lorde as she arrives back in Auckland from the Grammys. Photo: RNZ

In late September 2014 Lorde released ‘Yellow Flicker Beat’ the single she wrote for the soundtrack she was invited to curate for the film The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.

New Zealand's Taite Music Prize "to recognise outstanding creativity for an entire collection of music contained on one album" was awarded to Lorde's debut album Pure Heroine in April 2014. In a video acceptance speech from Las Vegas, Lorde suggested that the prize - $10,000 and time in a recording studio - be divided between the non-winning finalists.

April 2014 also saw Lorde perform at American music festivals Lollapalooza and Coachella, and sing with the remaining members of seminal grunge band Nirvana at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York.

February 2014 saw Lorde win Best International Female Solo Artist at the Brit Awards in London. She was up against stiff competition with big names such as Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae and Pink also being nominated in her category.

Lorde wins at the 56th Grammy Awards.

Lorde wins at the 56th Grammy Awards. Photo: Ashley Page.

In January 2014 Lorde won two Grammy Awards in Los Angeles - Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year.





During 2013 the single 'Royals' topped the charts around the world, and Lorde performed live on the Ellen Degeneres Show, Later with Jools Holland and The Late Show with David Letterman.

The New Zealand Music Awards in November 2013 brought four Tuis, with the debut E.P. The Love Club leading to Single of the Year for 'Royals'. Lorde also collected Breakthrough Artist of the Year, International Achievement Award and the People's Choice Award.

Lorde wins at VNZMA show Jason Hailes
Lorde wins at VNZMA 2013 show photo by Jason Hailes

In October 'Royals' reached No 1 on the USA Billboard Hot 100, beating songs from Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry.

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Photo: RNZ

Ella Yelich-O'Connor and co-writer/producer Joel Little won the APRA New Zealand Silver Scroll Award in October 2013 for composing the song 'Royals' which also in that month debuted at No. 1 on the British singles chart, making Yelich-O'Connor (born 7 November, 1996) the youngest artist to do so since 1998.

Lorde's debut full-length album Pure Heroine was released on 27 September 2013, and debuted at number one on the New Zealand and Australian album charts. It charted in the Top 10 in nine other countries.

In August 2013 Yelich-O'Connor was also the first woman in almost two decades to top the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in the United States. At the time Billboard said the ascent of 'Royals' was stunning, achieving the longest reign by a lead female in the 25-year history of the Alternative Songs chart.

Lorde, who was 16 at the time, was also the youngest solo artist to perch atop the Hot 100 since Tiffany, who was also 16 when her song 'I Think We're Alone Now' reached number one in 1987.



Collection items

Ella Yelich-O'Connor, better known by her stage name Lorde, in the RNZ Auckland studios. 4 May 2017.

Lorde - Ella Yelich-O'Connor - at RNZ Auckland, May 2017. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Lorde - Ella Yelich-O'Connor 2013. Photograph by Charles Howells.

Silver Scrolls Lorde Ella Yelich O Connor and Joel Little Photo by Topic
Silver Scrolls 2013 Lorde Ella Yelich-O'Connor and Joel Little Photo by Topic

Lorde performs live at the VNZMA show by Jason Hailes
Lorde performs live at the VNZMA 2013 show by Jason Hailes