"Royals" is the debut single from New Zealand singer Lorde. It was included on the EP The Love Club EP, and later her debut studio album, Pure Heroine. The song was met with good reviews and reception, and catapulted Lorde into fame.
After A&R representative Scott MacLachlan of Universal Music Group (UMG) discovered Lorde and unsuccessfully tried to set her up with multiple singer/songwriters and producers to help her produce music, he finally teamed her up with Joel Little. The two made Lorde's debut EP, The Love Club EP, which included Royals.
Writing and composition
Lorde wrote the song in 2012 at her house, which only took half an hour. Herself and Joel Little worked on Royals at Little's Golden Age Studio in Golden Age Studios in Morningside, Auckland NZ. Within a week they had finished the song.
The first idea for the song came to Lorde after she read an article published by National Geographic with a picture of Kansas City Royals baseball player George Brett signing baseballs, with his team's name emblazoned across his shirt. She said "It was just that word. It was really cool." Historic aristocrats were also an inspiration for the song. She also explained the lyric "We're driving Cadillacs in our dreams" was something she read in a diary she received at the age of 12. Lorde further revealed that she took inspiration from hip-hop-influenced artists during the writing process, yet criticized their "bullshit" reference to "expensive" alcohol and cars.
"I was definitely poking fun at a lot of things that people take to be normal. I was listening to a lot of hip-hop and I kind of started to realise that to be cool in hip-hop, you have to have that sort of car and drink that sort of vodka and have that sort of watch, and I was like, "I've literally never seen one of those watches in my entire life." (- Lorde about the lyrics)
The song was produced by using the software Pro Tools. A Spin writer described the song as being "artpop". Written in the key of D Mixolydian, it is followed by the chord progression I-vii-IV (D – c – G). The song has a moderate tempo of 85 beats per minute (Andante). "Royals" is instrumented by finger snaps and bass. On the song, Lorde performs with a mezzo-soprano vocal range, spanning from F♯3 to F#5. Lyrically, Lorde sings about the luxurious lifestyle of contemporary artists.
Later, Lorde revealed on Daily Record that she thought the song was "horrible", and commented:
"I listen to people covering the song and putting their own spin on it, and I listen to it in every single form except the original one I put out, and I realize that actually it sounds horrible. It sounds like a ringtone from a 2006 Nokia. None of the melodies are cool or good. It's disastrous. Awful...but for the same reason, in the context of the way I released it, it just worked out."
"Royals" was met with international acclaim from music critics and a variety of songwriters and other artists. Digital Spy gave the song five out of five stars praising the song saying it has an "addictive hook that thrives on its simplicity" continuing to comment saying "Lorde's success is here to stay." But not all reviews were the same, some were more mixed, with The Singles Jukebox having ratings ranging from a three to an eight out of ten. Royals was one of the most successful songs of 2013, and gained an altitude of radio airplay and brought Lorde two Grammy awards, for Song of the Year (2014) and Best Pop Solo Performance (2014). In December of 2017, it reached Diamond at ten million sales.
In 2018, it was included in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Songs of the Century (so far) list, ranking at #9.
"Royals" debuted at number one on the New Zealand Top 40 on 15 March 2013 and remained in the top position for three weeks. In Australia, "Royals" was released simultaneously with "The Love Club" and was classified as a single for charting purposes and spent two weeks at its peak position of number two on the ARIA Singles Chart; sales of tracks on the album counted toward the EP, and therefore could not chart separately. It has been certified six-times Platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipping 420,000 units.
On the week dated 2 October 2013, the song rose to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Lorde her first number one. At sixteen, she is the youngest artist to reach number one since Tiffany ("I Think We're Alone Now", 14 November 1987). With "Royals", Lorde is the first New Zealand act to have achieved a Billboard Hot 100 number one as the lead artist. The song became a crossover hit, receiving significant airplay on triple-A, modern rock, adult contemporary, rhythmic contemporary, urban contemporary and contemporary hit radio in the US, and eventually topped the US Hot 100 chart in October 2013. It replaced Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" at number one. "Royals" spent 23 consecutive weeks in the top ten of the Hot 100. The track spent a total of nine weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the second longest run that year. After nine weeks at the top, it was succeeded by Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball." It became the fifth best-selling song in the US with 4,415,000 downloads sold in 2013 and was the top-selling song of the year by a female artist. As of December 2014, the song has sold 5.9 million copies in the US
The song debuted at number three on the Irish Charts on 3 October 2013, before climbing to number one the following week. On the week dated 9 October 2013, the song retained its number one spot, selling a further 309,000 copies. On 28 October "Royals" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart; in doing so, Lorde became the youngest solo artist to score a UK number one single since Billie Piper's 1998 song "Because We Want To". As of November 2014, "Royals" has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
|Premiere||June 18 2013|
A music video for "Royals" was uploaded to Lorde's official VEVO account on June 18th, 2013. It was directed by Joel Kefali.
Lorde wanted the video to feel rather cinematic and wanted it to be more of a piece of art. About her lack of appearance, Lorde said "Having me in it didn't feel like something that was necessary to create that world. So I'm just in it for just a little bit. I think it works well." The video instead features some of her classmates from school.
The music video features Lorde singing in some shots, with clips of two boys of them doing unexceptional things in slow motion, including riding in a subway, boxing etc.
Royals was part of Lorde's world tour setlist and she has sung a number of times. She appeared on US television for the first time by singing "Royals" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on 1 October 2013, wearing a white dress, and backed by a keyboardist and a drummer. "White Teeth Teens" was also performed on the show, but was only shown online. Lorde also performed "Royals" on US talk show Ellen on 9 October 2013.
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