Ella Yelich-O’Connor expresses her passion for music in many of the ways typical of teenagers and just-turned-twenty-somethings the world over. She’s forever making new discoveries that prompt her to widen her tastes and pledge undying loyalty to artists she may have barely heard of a few days before. She consumes music voraciously and is eager to share all that excites her in every public platform at her disposal. Her playlists—which have cool mixtape-ready names like “Homemade Dynamite”—are roughly split between sure-fire party starters and more melancholy fare for early-morning journaling sessions. Her Twitter and Instagram feeds are full of shoutouts to the artists she loves and messages quoting the lyrics that have just become her new words to live by. But the difference here—what with her being Lorde and not some adolescent rando—is that those artists tend to tweet a reply with an emoji-laden expression of right-back-atcha.
Though her existence has changed immeasurably since “Royals” broke her wide in 2013, Lorde has not lost the unabashed fandom that’s proven to be one of her most endearing qualities. Indeed, she’s continued to be a rarity as a young artist who expresses a keen understanding of a remarkably diverse array of new and old sounds without sounding derivative of any of them in particular. Likewise, she’s figured out ways to retain her own sensibility across an array of cover renditions in the past four years, an impeccably chosen slate that ranges from songs by canonic rock acts (David Bowie, Replacements, Nirvana) to relative newbies (Bright Eyes, Bon Iver) to hip-hop and R&B (Jeremih, Kanye). And while many of the most dramatic moments of her sophomore album Melodrama do suggest the influence of a few of her most-cherished touchstones—single “Liability” is a close cousin to Kate Bush’s “The Man With the Child In His Eyes,” for instance—the connection between her own music and the stuff she loves is more a matter of shared energy and attitude. That’s true even of old favourites that—like any fan—she may be hideously embarrassed about now. Likely case in point: The Cult’s “Edie (Ciao Baby),” which the pre-Lorde once performed as a 12-year-old in her school band Extreme. (Alas, the band’s repertoire apparently did not include “More Than Words.”)
As Melodrama arrives to usher in our summer of Lorde, we present a deep dive into the music of other artists that she’s performed and loved. Long may she want to tell us all about them.