MTV Artist To Watch: Get To Know Bewitching Alt-Pop Teen Lorde + Watch Lorde Perform ‘Royals’

MTV Artist To Watch: Lorde

Chances are you’re already obsessed with 16-year-old edgy pop wunderkind Lorde.

We don’t claim to be psychics, but something tells us that you’ve probably heard of this week’s MTV Artist To Watch. Maybe it’s because 16-year-old Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor, otherwise known as Lorde, is officially having her Major Music Moment.

Specifically? Her first single, “Royals,” debuted at No. 1 on the New Zealand Top 40 AND reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. In all, that makes Lorde the first New Zealand solo artist to have a No. 1 song in the U.S. and the youngest artist to hold the U.S. No. 1 spot in more than 25 years.

As you can see, Lorde’s not only making career strides — she’s making history.

Read more about Lorde after the jump.

Born in in Auckland, New Zealand, the young alt-pop singer-songwriter and self-proclaimed feminist got her start in music a bit earlier than most. When she was only 12 years old, a musician friend sent some home recordings to a Universal A&R scout, which eventually led to her being signed and releasing her first EP titled The Love Club.

Showcasing her husky, soulful, smoky vocals, The Love Club EP is a great intro to Lorde’s intriguing, mysterious world, and features five tracks that find their groove in choppy, electronic drumbeats, minimal instrumentation, and finely layered harmonies. It’s a brief recording, of course, but it’s rife with potential.

And that potential is fully realized in her recently released debut album, Pure Heroine. On her debut disc, Lorde explores her ethereal talent further on songs such as the R&B-flecked “Tennis Court” (if you haven’t seen that song’s captivating, minimalist video, do so NOW), her money-eschewing hit single “Royals,” and the offbeat-yet-upbeat “White Teeth Teens,” among others.

Talent aside, perhaps what’s so intriguing about Lorde is how far removed she seems from her teen pop contemporaries. Everyone from Selena Gomez to Mayer Hawthorne to a sad-sack clown has covered “Royals,” but don’t expect to see the chunky-shoe-loving, otherworldly singer acting like a member of the musical upper crust. In the YouTube description for her “Royals” video, Lorde claims: “A lot of people think teenagers live in this world like ‘Skins’ every weekend or whatever, but truth is, half the time we aren’t doing anything cooler than playing with lighters, or waiting at some s***ty stop. That’s why this had to be real. And I’m at that particular train station every week.”

Now that she’s captured the music world, the fashion world, and every other subcultural world, what’s next for New Zealand’s new Queen of Pop? Well, she’s got a handful of tour dates, but we wouldn’t be surprised if she popped up on myriad other late-night shows (see: her riveting American television debut on “Jimmy Fallon” from earlier this fall). Till then, bow down to your new “ruler” (even if she refuses to wear the crown).

+ Watch Lorde perform “Royals.”

+ Watch Lorde perform “White Teeth Teens.”

+ Watch Lorde perform “Buzzcut Season.”

+ Watch Lorde discuss the inspiration behind “Royals.”

Photo credit: Universal