Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lorde -- "Royals" (2013)

Cristal, Maybach, 
Diamonds on your timepiece
Jet planes, islands, 
Tigers on a gold leash
We don't care . . .
And we'll never be royals

When self-proclaimed populist Bill de Blasio walked onstage to deliver his acceptance speech after being elected mayor of New York City earlier this month, this was the song that was playing.

I've visited New York City a number of times, but I'm certainly no expert on the place.  However, I have figured one thing out about life in good ol' NYC -- if you want to be happy there, it helps to have an unlimited supply of money.

I was in New York City recently and spent one morning walking from my Times Square hotel into the heart of Central Park, returning via the poshest shopping streets of midtown Manhattan -- namely, Park, Madison, and Fifth Avenues.

Go to the corner of 58th Street and Fifth Avenue, and you find a couple of famous old New York shopping spots.

There's Bergdorf Goodman -- the luxury-goods store that was featured in movies like How to Marry a Millionaire and That Touch of Mink.  You younger readers may know Bergdorf Goodman as the favorite shopping destination of Sex in the City's Carrie Bradshaw:

Bergdorf Goodman
Just across the street from Bergdorf Goodman is the legendary toy store, FAO Schwarz, which was founded in 1862:

FAO Schwarz
If your shopping interests run to more contemporary brands, there's an Apple store just steps away from FAO Schwarz:

The Fifth Avenue Apple store
I wish Cartier would consolidate their locations so a guy didn't have to go running all over Manhattan to pick up baubles for ses femmes:

Decisions, decisions!
If you aspire to drink champagne (Cristal or otherwise) but are living on a beer budget, New York has plenty of places offering high-class duds that don't cost any more than schmatte.

I found this neckwear emporium buried in the bowels of Penn Station, which is a veritable 21st-century  Dante's Inferno:

This store was aptly named.  Note the correct use of not une, but deux accents aigu -- this is an establishment that gets the details right:

True bargain hunters may wish to head straight for the Garment District and avoid high prices for chic fashion through do-it-yourself means:

If you haven't heard "Royals," I'm guessing that your car radio is broken -- or maybe it's just frozen on a country-western station.

Lorde -- whose real name is Ella Yelich-O'Connor -- is a singer-songwriter who just turned 17.  She is the first New Zealand solo artist to have a #1 hit in the U.S.

A lot of my fellow pop-music blowhards were waxing eloquent about the cultural significance of "Royals" long before de Blasio appropriated it as his theme song.

The song makes a fairly obvious point: there is a huge gulf between the world as it is depicted in pop music -- which often glamorizes conspicuous consumption (in the form of Cristal champagne, Maybach luxury cars, diamond-encrusted watches, etc.) -- and the world that fans of pop music live in.

The singer of "Royals," who grew up in an unglamorous "torn-up town" and has "never seen a diamond in the flesh," isn't at all embarrassed that she and her friends "didn't come from money."  Likewise, mayor-elect de Blasio never misses a chance to distinguish himself from New York City's outgoing mayor, the multibillionaire Michael Bloomberg.  (Bloomberg reportedly has a net worth of $31 billion, making him the 13th-wealthiest person in the whole world.)

By the way, de Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm, Jr.  His parents split up when he young, and his mother and her family -- the de Blasios -- raised him.  So he changed his name to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm in 1983.  In 2002, he changed his name again -- to Bill de Blasio.  (I get the de Blasio part, but I don't know why he changed Warren to Bill.  Maybe Warren sounded a little too royal for his tastes.)

De Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, was three years behind Hillary Clinton at Wellesley College.  After graduation, she became a member of the Combahee River Collective, a black feminist lesbian organization in Boston.  In 1979, she wrote a famous article in Essence magazine titled "I Am a Lesbian."

McCray and de Blasio married in 1994 after meeting when both worked for New York City Mayor David Dinkins.  When she was recently asked about that 1979 essay, Mc Cray said, "In the 1970s, I identified as a lesbian and wrote about it.  In 1991, I met the love of my life and married him."  (McCray once took a job with a giant financial services company, but quit after six months because it was "not a good fit."  She must have decided that being gay wasn't a good fit either.)

The de Blasio family
De Blasio is full of it, of course -- he's a politician, so that goes without saying.  Is Lorde also full of it?

Probably not -- at least not yet.  But Lorde's a 17-year-old girl with a #1 hit single and an album that is doing very well.  (That album, Pure Heroine, debuted at #3 on the Billboard album chart, and sold 280,000 copies in the U.S. in the first month it was released.)  In another couple of years, I'm guessing she'll be either a self-absorbed neurotic (think Alanis Morissette) or a drunken, drugged-up burnout (think Lindsay Lohan).

That's a minority opinion.  Most don't share my skepticism.  The New Yorker reviewer (among others) have lathered her up pretty good:

The exciting thing about Lorde is not merely that . . . "Royals" is perfect (it is), but that a teenager from [New Zealand], with an unnatural gift, has entered the suit-infested ruins of the music business with the confidence of a veteran and the skills of a prodigy.  She is less a flashy new mansion in the suburbs than an architectural gem in a tony neighborhood.

We'll see.  But if I had to bet, I'd bet on one-hit wonder.  

Here's "Royals":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

No comments:

Post a Comment