Lorde on Jools Holland

02:12, Sep 20 2013

Here's the clip of Lorde singing her hit, Royals, on Later With Jools Holland. An amazing achievement to be on the show, of course, and now there's the inevitability of Elton John raving about the singer - which can be interpreted as him wanting to say more about himself than he's actually saying about Lorde.

All these plaudits and the debut album is still to be released - it's out next week. Wednesday night's promotional material on TV3's 3rd Degree show, an advert for the upcoming album that pretended, at times, to be in interview, was careful in showing only a few clips of Lorde singing; snippets only.

Because - here's the thing - for all the success, for everyone talking, and let's not forget this is a Kiwi who is achieving things on an international scale, this of course means we all get to claim some part in it, naturally, that's how it works with New Zealand success, it is probably worth noting - even if it seems to have not bothered anyone at this point - that Lorde's not actually very good.

Yes, I know I've already had a go at pointing that out; at suggesting too that it had already bothered me.

The singing is a bit like acceptable karaoke and the evidence so far suggests one-hit-wonder.


She is a new version of Lana Del Rey. She is of course (already) better than Lana Del Rey. But I'm not sure that's even a compliment.

Royals is her Video Games.

Is it better? Probably. I don't really care for either song. But I can't hear anything exciting in the way Royals is performed. (And I've tried.) And in the performances to date - a couple of very low-key pub gigs and a free show at Vector Arena - I'm not hearing or seeing much of anything to be that excited about. That Jools Holland clip will help sell her myth, sure. But it didn't do anything to change how I feel.

The songs do nothing for me - but then I'm not the target market. And I must remember that an old man cannot comment on pop music made by young people. Unless he happens to like it. Then, suddenly, it means something. Old men can tell you that pop music by young people is wonderful. They just can't tell you they don't like it. That opinion, you see, is not required - therefore it's not relevant. It's best keep your mouth shut unless you love something.

Can't say anything nice...

I sincerely wish Lorde all the best. She's going to need more than good luck. She'll need huge amounts of talent to make anything lasting. And so far I'm not hearing that. I'm not seeing that. I just hear a lot of talk about how she's only 16. And though I'm looking forward to hearing the full-length album - I hope it's great - I'm certainly not sold on her as anything close to a great vocalist.

And the performance on Jools Holland - perhaps nerve-racking, certainly an extraordinary achievement to even be there - is a bit flat for mine. It's got nothing to recommend it. Beyond the obvious fact that because I don't like it I of course should not be commenting. The performance lacks anything dynamic, the song feels two-dimensional. The singing is not strong. The drummer is there to remind you that not everything apart from Lorde's lead vocal is triggered and programmed (even though - ultimately - it is. And he doesn't really need to be there. Even if he's a decent enough player).

Let me add to the free advertising for her album - due out next week - by asking if you're looking forward to it? Are you one of the people who have pre-ordered it, meaning it's at the No 1 spot on iTunes in New Zealand already, even before anyone's heard it? Are you convinced Lorde is the real deal?

And do you think in the clips you've seen - or performances you've witnessed - that she's a great singer and amazing performer? Or do you agree we're setting her up for a bit of a fall with all this talk of huge talent, all this talk of superstardom?

Do you also agree that New Zealanders are just a little bit too keen to jump on board in trying to share the success of other Kiwis when it suits - when it's (apparently) guaranteed, when it's happened? If Lorde had no international interest at all - if she hadn't just played Jools Holland, had interest in America and Europe, would there be so many Kiwis talking up her "real deal" status?

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