Since I first heard her now-inescapable hit song “Royals,” I have been a fan of New Zealand-born musician Lorde. And now that I’ve seen her live and followed what she has to say, I’m even more impressed by how she’s shaping up as a young feminist role model.
At a mere 17 years old, Lorde (real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor) has already achieved more than many musicians do in their career; she has broken chart records and won some of the most prestigious awards.
When I heard that Lorde was playing a concert in my town, I was excited to get tickets. I was curious to see and hear her live, and to get more insight into who this performer was.
I didn’t give much thought to what her fan base would be like. I mean, I’m an alternative and folk music loving 32-year-old woman with a husband and a child. I had no reason to think that I was outside her demographic.
Was I ever wrong.
Sure, there were a few “older” audience members like myself, but the crowd was dominated by screaming and cheering teenage and pre-teen girls.
Lorde performed a solid set, displaying the goth-influenced style and awkward dance moves she is becoming known for.
I believe she also talked between songs a bit, but I couldn’t really hear her. All around me were legions of screaming girls. They were calling out her name, calling out “we love you!” and, of course, just yelling incoherently.
I admit to being moved to tears by some of their earnest faces. They truly were in the presence of their idol, and I remembered all too well some similar moments from my own youth. That all-encompassing feeling of pure joy, of wanting this person to know how important they are to you.
The reaction of Lorde’s fan base excites me. There are too many manufactured, sexualized, auto-tuned pop stars around.
Far more than just a bankable pop star, Lorde represents a new wave in mainstream popular music. She refuses to buy into the trope of the sexualised young female pop star. Instead, she is a boldly and unapologetically unique role model.
Lorde writes or co-writes her own music, openly identifies as feminist, wears unique and non-revealing clothing on stage, and frequently calls out constructs of the industry like the overzealous use of Photoshop.
If this is who the next generation of feminists are looking up to, then I couldn’t be happier.
Tessa Needham Synnott discovered About-Face while completing her PhD in Performing Arts at the University of Western Sydney (Australia) in 2008. Her thesis explored the potential of performance to provoke change, and part of her research was Bodily, a solo theatrical performance about body image. She loves technology and the creative arts, and is passionate about the different cultural forces affecting the body image of girls and women. She is a freelance graphic designer, photographer, and WordPress developer: tessaneedham.com.