'Lorde-like leap' ahead

11:46, Feb 11 2014
Alisa Xayalith of The Naked and Famous
BRIGHT FUTURE: Alisa Xayalith of The Naked and the Famous was tipped for success.

Billboard has released a list of 10 Kiwi artists it believes could make a "Lorde-like leap" to global stardom.

Hot on the heels of 17-year-old Ella Yelich-O'Connor's double Grammy success, the eyes of the American music magazine are fixed on New Zealand, keen to uncover what else this country has to offer in pop music.

While New Zealand "has not originated too many worldwide superstars on the level of neighbouring Australia", Billboard mentions the previous international successes of Neil Finn, OMC and Flight of the Conchords.

And some of the artists featured on Billboard's latest list have already made their mark on the international stage.

Among them are The Naked and the Famous, who had two hits on the US alternative charts in 2011, and Kimbra, who topped the Hot 100 on the US charts for Somebody That I Used to Know, her collaboration with Gotye.

Like Lorde, Kimbra scored two Grammys for that track.


Other artists on the list are less known internationally, including Joel Little's band, Kids of 88, and New Zealand boy band Titanium.

While it would appear New Zealand recording artists are basking in Lorde's glow, music producer Simon Grigg rubbished the idea of a "Lorde effect".

His own Huh! label released OMC's How Bizarre, a song that topped American radio charts in 1996.

"I'm wary of the claim or idea that New Zealand acts get any major flow-through," he said.

"That said, when OMC hit No 1 I got a call from US producer Kim Fowley asking if I had any more of those [Polynesians]."

The reason for Lorde's success was because her work was "massively different" to anything else on US radio – unlike some of the other New Zealand acts on Billboard's list, he said.

"How Bizarre and Lorde both worked because they were unique, and more, they were not competing with a US version of the same sound, with a billion dollars spent on it."

While he hoped there would be some spinoff for New Zealand acts, the international rule was that there rarely was, Grigg said.

"Lorde was about the incredible song and the incredible artist."


1. The Naked and the Famous

The alternative rock band from Auckland found success on the US Alternative charts in 2011 with Young Blood and Punching in a Dream.

2. Kimbra

Born in Hamilton, in 2012 Kimbra won Rolling Stone's One to Watch award, and in 2013 won two Grammys for her song, Somebody That I Used to Know, with Australian artist Gotye.

3. Kids of 88

The Auckland duo are best known in New Zealand for their 2009 hit song, My House, co-produced and co-written by Joel Little (of Lorde fame).

4. Broods

Joel Little is also working with this brother-and-sister act, who signed with Capitol Records in December and released their debut EP last month.

5. Ginny Blackmore

The Auckland singer-songwriter has made a career writing songs for the likes of Christina Aguilera and Adam Lambert, but her own song, Bones, topped the NZ charts and made it into the US adult pop songs chart.

6. Willy Moon

Born in Wellington and now based in the United Kingdom, his 2012 single, Yeah Yeah, appeared on an Apple iPod commercial and made it onto the UK singles chart.

7. David Dallas

The hip-hop artist made it to the top of the NZ iTunes charts with his debut solo album, Something Awesome, in 2009 and has achieved steady success with subsequent albums in 2011 and 2013.

8. Mt Eden

The dub-step duo found fame with remix Sierra Leone, which went viral on YouTube in 2009.

9. The Phoenix Foundation

Wellington's indie rock band have been plugging away since they formed at high school in 1997, with five albums under their belt, and soundtrack credits for Kiwi movies Eagle vs Shark and Boy.

10. Titanium

Known as New Zealand's first boy band, Titanium was formed from a competition by radio station The Edge, with first single Come on Home debuting at No 1 on the NZ singles charts.

Fairfax Media