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Lorde Doesn't Have A Bentley, But The Charts Will Do

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Lorde Doesn't Have A Bentley, But The Charts Will Do

Lorde Doesn't Have A Bentley, But The Charts Will Do

Lorde Doesn't Have A Bentley, But The Charts Will Do

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/227790278/227905819" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Lorde's debut album, Pure Heroine, is out now. Charles Howells/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Charles Howells/Courtesy of the artist

Lorde's debut album, Pure Heroine, is out now.

Charles Howells/Courtesy of the artist

While young women dominate the dance and pop charts, it's been nearly 20 years since we've seen them top the alternative-rock charts. This year, a 16-year-old girl from New Zealand got the job done with a tune that's just about the opposite of anything you'd hear from her peers. Ella Yelich O'Connor — better known as Lorde — is the voice behind the snarky, chart-topping track "Royals," which is the lead single from her debut album, Pure Heroine.

Lorde performs "Royals" on KCRW.

The teenage musician says the disconnect between her life in Auckland, New Zealand, and the messages behind the top songs of the music charts she's dominating inspired her to write the hit.

"I was just sort of reeling off some of the things which are commonly mentioned in hip-hop and the Top 40. I did get a little ridiculous on it, but the sentiment's there," O'Connor says. "I've always loved hip-hop, but as a fan of hip-hop, I've always had to kind of suspend disbelief because, obviously, I don't have a Bentley. There's a distance between that and the life I have with my friends going to parties and getting public transport and doing the things that every other teenager does."

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O'Connor's interest in reading and discussing literature is a characteristic she says was instilled in her by her mother, Sonja Yelich, a prize-winning poet. It was this influence that ultimately led to the selection of her moniker.

"I was looking through a bunch of aristocratic titles, and I liked the word 'lord' — I liked the masculinity of it," she says. "I just put an 'e' on the end to make it feminine, because I thought that juxtaposition was kind of cool."