Audio

The Best Song of 2013

As originally recorded by Lorde. The melody sucked me in initially, but then I started listening more closely to the lyrics.

[Verse 1]

I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh
I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies
And I’m not proud of my address,
In a torn-up town, no postcode envy

But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair.

And we’ll never be royals (royals).
It don’t run in our blood,
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
Let me be your ruler (ruler),
You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.

[Verse 2]
My friends and I—we’ve cracked the code.
We count our dollars on the train to the party.
And everyone who knows us knows that we’re fine with this,
We didn’t come for money.

But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom.
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair

And we’ll never be royals (royals).
It don’t run in our blood
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
Let me be your ruler (ruler),
You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.

Ooh ooh oh
We’re bigger than we ever dreamed,
And I’m in love with being queen.
Ooh ooh oh
Life is great without a care
We aren’t caught up in your love affair.

And we’ll never be royals (royals).
It don’t run in our blood
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz
Let me be your ruler (ruler),
You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.

Ann Powers wrote an excellent analysis here. An excerpt:

Lorde is a phenomenon because of perfect timing. She came along just when listeners were craving what “Royals” famously advocates: a different kind of buzz.

In 2013, the culture’s longings and anxieties coalesced for the umpteenth time around youthful excess cooked within a stew of racial tension, class dissatisfaction and identity blur. The mood built all year, hitting a peak in late summer, when the former tween role model Miley Cyrus turned herself into an It Girl by doing what It Girls have always done: flaunting her budding vitality with a shimmy, a tongue-wag and a twerk. As self-aware as she was crass, Miley us by continually identifying new hot buttons and pushing until they were sticky. Her antics helped sell many copies of her album Bangerz, but its genuine musical freshness made a minor impression next to her tricksterism.

Then, fast on her heels, Lorde turned the conversation. After a few months as the new find of , this droll chanteuse became notorious for suggesting that some kids might prefer to stand apart from pop’s endless party. In October, “Royals” displaced Cyrus’ power ballad “Wrecking Ball” (a pretty killer song, actually) at No 1. “Royals” has since thrived in its contradictory space as both an anti-luxury anthem decrying “gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom,” and the ultimate expression of class privilege: a bourgeois protest against the common people’s aspirational fantasies.

I only hope Powers is right and that Lorde is leading a trend that will only swell and grow. I am so tired of people walking around with $600 purses over their shoulders and $1000 tennis shoes on their feet. I myself refuse to buy anything ever again with the maker’s name on it, if I can possibly avoid it (not easy, these days). Why should I pay money to make myself into an unpaid advertisement for the manufacturer? Why should anyone?


Buy Lorde’s original version on iTunes here
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3 thoughts on “The Best Song of 2013

  1. Laurie Carlson says:

    Dana, I couldn’t agree more. When I first heard “Royals” I sent it to my daughter and her friends in Chicago, as to me this song exemplified the lives they are living. But the more I hear of Lorde, the more impressed I am with her musical maturity and her uncanny way of seeing beyond the obvious and insinuating that insight into her lyrics. Her take on the old Tears For Fears song “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” takes the plaintive yet poppy song we remember and creates a haunting and introspective ballad that never fails to make me shiver a bit whenever I hear it. Here’s to hoping Lorde hasn’t yet peaked.

    Like

  2. Cherime MacFarlane says:

    Great one. Love the song. I will explore Lorde. Guess that’s why I love it here in Alaska and have no plans to leave, it’s never been about money for me.

    Like

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