March 19, 2014

What Lorde Has that Miley Doesn’t

Pop Star Lorde by Faerwin Wallpapers

People crave authenticity. What do I mean by authenticity?  I mean things that feel real, that feel like they mean something, you know?  In our wonderfully overabundant media existence, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing but games and masks and people whose motives are sketchy. They’re only trying to sell something or to get ahead.  All that has its own charm, to be sure, but authenticity is what changes a run-of-the-mill wizard story into Harry Potter, an avid amateur singer into Adele.

I was struck by this as I watched Lorde’s “Royals” video.  It’s the quality of her voice and the way she stares into the camera, not playing to stereotypes.  It’s her beauty and the beauty of her voice.  It’s the young men just doing what they do.  It’s charming and heart-wrenching without being in your face, and it defies stereotypes.  It runs the gamut of emotions.  In a word, it is authentic. 

It’s interesting to contrast this video with Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.”  She has a beautiful voice and she’s an amazing artist, but it feels inauthentic, you know?  She’s trying too hard.  She’s trying to fit conventions that came way before her and will continue on into the foreseeable future.  She’s trying to stretch herself to be a phenomenon.

Lorde is a phenomenon, while Miley is trying to be one. People sense authenticity, even if they can’t quite name it.

It’s a great reminder to “be yourself.”  It’s such a hard thing to do, to embrace who you are and where you’re from, even and especially those parts of yourself that are embarrassing and less attractive and less acceptable.  That’s actually where the artistic gold is.  Those places that make you cringe, that make you who you are. 

I remember as a teenager it was particularly hard.  I didn’t know who I was.  How can you be yourself when you don’t know who that self is.  But now I know part of it, at least, is owning where you come from, listening to yourself and noting those things you love and you hate, and “running screaming toward the fear” as Steve Almond says.

The art that we create deserves nothing less than our true, authentic,  flawed but glowing selves.

Now here’s Lorde.

PS It's the reason why this is so charming.

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