Wow, that Lorde song Royals is racist

Have you heard this young lady, Lorde, on the radio? Yesterday the New York Times posted a review of her recent performance at Webster Hall, and I’m kind of at a loss about the way that her big hit, Royals, is being talked about there and elsewhere. Now I’m a music lover, but since the only radio stations I listen to are the local hip hop station and NPR, I hadn’t heard this one – which I hear has been making the rounds on pop stations for a minute -  until somewhat recently:

(Full transcript of lyrics at the end of post)

Folks who have spent some time with me know that I deeply love music videos, so when I saw this posted on social media, I went straight to the video. Holy. Shit. What did this white girl just say?

My friends and I – we’ve cracked the code.
We count our dollars on the train to the party.
And everyone who knows us knows that we’re fine with this,
We didn’t come from money.

But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom.
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair

While I love a good critique of wealth accumulation and inequity, this song is not one; in fact, it is deeply racist. Because we all know who she’s thinking when we’re talking gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs. So why shit on black folks? Why shit on rappers? Why aren’t we critiquing wealth by taking hits at golf or polo or Central Park East? Why not take to task the bankers and old-money folks who actually have a hand in perpetuating and increasing wealth inequality? I’m gonna take a guess: racism. I don’t have to explain why wealth operates differently among folks who’ve grown up struggling because this shit has been explained already: If you grew up with holes in your zapatos you’d celebrate the minute you was having dough.

The New York Times, however, thinks it’s just so fresh and insightful:

Ms. Perry and Ms. Cyrus sing about something teenage girls are presumed to have on their minds: what’s left of self-esteem after a breakup. (Dr. Luke, the architect of dozens of hit singles, collaborated on both songs.) Lorde, meanwhile, is singing about class consciousness and conspicuous consumption: the gap between pop-culture fantasies of Cadillacs and diamonds and the reality of being someone who “didn’t come from money.” It’s a thoughtful, calmly insubordinate song; it’s also written by an actual teenager.

While I am all about youth writing music that is targeted for youth, let’s not pretend that there is anything new about this particular kind of racism.

Yes, Lorde is only sixteen, but this is no viral video she put out outta her basement on her own; mad people signed off on this. Record execs have been working with her since she was 12; several, no, many people listened to this track, and saw no problem with it at all. And while I’m less mad at Lorde (who’s from New Zealand) than I am at the New York Times – and more generally white liberal critics that have been so captivated by Royals‘ call-out of consumption that they didn’t bother to take the time to think critically about the racial implications of the lyrics – this isn’t to say that there should be no accountability for her. I’m thinking of fierce youth activists who get it, are doing the work, and from whom Lorde could learn quite a bit. She apparently calls herself a feminist – let’s just hope her feminism gets a lot less racist as she develops as an artist.

Lyrics: Royals, by Lorde:

I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh
I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies
And I’m not proud of my address,
In a torn-up town, no post code envy

But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair.

And we’ll never be royals.
It don’t run in our blood,
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
Let me be your ruler,
You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.

My friends and I – we’ve cracked the code.
We count our dollars on the train to the party.
And everyone who knows us knows that we’re fine with this,
We didn’t come from money.

But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom.
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair

And we’ll never be royals.
It don’t run in our blood
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
Let me be your ruler,
You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.

We’re bigger than we ever dreamed,
And I’m in love with being queen.
Life is great without a care
We aren’t caught up in your love affair.

And we’ll never be royals.
It don’t run in our blood
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz
Let me be your ruler,
You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.

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126 Comments

  1. Posted October 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Dear young people,

    “this has been explained already.” I’ll be voting straight ticket Republican in the midterms next year, if I hear that phrase even one more time.

    • Posted October 8, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      The “this has been explained already” was more about other smart people having explained this sufficiently so my own personal analysis isn’t necessary (e.g. Jay-Z in this example, whose explanation I included), but point taken!

      • Posted October 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        I find it funny that you’re quoting Jay-Z who has a song that says, “I got 99 problems and a bitch ain’t one.”

  2. Posted October 7, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Lorde is a racist, but I do think the song displays some ignorance on her part. I think she has a fundamental misunderstanding of hip hop and the reasons behind some of it’s materialistic themes. I don’t blame her, she’s 16 and from a different country. I think the song, and its widespread popularity and acclaim, really speak to how misunderstood hip hop/urban culture is to a lot of the public. She’s mocking “cliches” that a lot of people without a whole lot of opportunity look at as symbols of something to strive for and as an escape from their more modest realities. She isn’t intentionally racist, but I do see how Royals could offend some people.

  3. Posted October 7, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    I have registered purely to tell you that you are clueless about New Zealand culture. Dear Americans, this is why you have such crap reputations around the world. Guess what, it’s not all about you and your issues. Golf? I can go play golf for a few bucks down at the local course. Polo? It’s not a rich man’s game here. And what is Central Park East when it’s at home? Is it some New York thing?

    “But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom.
    Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
    We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
    But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece.
    Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash
    We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair”

    This is not about black Americans, this is about the rubbish commercial music that American cultural imperialism feeds us. This song is about how New Zealand youth feel when every popular song is about gold teeth, and Cristal, and trashing hotel rooms, etc.

    • Posted October 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      I too had to register but just to reply to your comment. I would have done it regardless but you took the words right out of my mouth. The “music” that America keeps pumping is what they should concern themselves with. Not only that but my word, this album is fantastic.

      • Posted October 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Here, here! The world is sick of the materialistic messages and occult symbolism in the crap called music today! We reject it and we will not let it change us into immoral little pigs like the elites on BOTH sides in BOTH partys and indeed around the world in governments.

      • Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        The same with you as well, I registered to comment against this woman’s opinion’s as they are dull, and senseless.
        I am American.
        However, this crap music that is being pumped out of this country, is for the birds.
        However, it is the main stream media, young kids, and other countries, such as yours, that keeps these artist coming and coming.

        Now, about the song from Lorde.
        I heard a little of it on a media program the other evening with my son, and we both thought that she had very good points on her lyrics.

        Now, do I think that she is racist? NO!!!
        If this woman that did the review, would have opened her ears a little more, than she would have realized what Lorde was referring too, and that is the over popular culture in music today. Bling, Pimped out rides, half naked artist on stage and in video’s, as well as showing off their money to the point, that they look like a big damn joke.

        Now.
        What annoys me, is how someone can look at one ignorant person’s comments, and assume that the whole USA is that way, and thinks that way, and that we all support this type of action from our so-called media stars. Most of them are losers with a record contract because people from ALL OVER the world, keep them in the business.

        So, when you hear supid comments coming out of a country, remember, that is a single opinion.
        Not the whole Country.

        Wayne

  4. Posted October 7, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Permalink
  5. Posted October 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    I am a little confused. I appreciated this article because I am studying ethnicity and hip hop at the moment, whilst being a Kiwi who considers myself a feminist.

    I just wanted to throw in my two cents, as a Kiwi who is temporarily studying in Hawai’i.
    We do not have the recent (and still very raw) history with African Americans that is present in the US.

    Ethnicity in general here seems to be tiptoed around by most people, and race doesn’t seem to be openly discussed (I am also aware that Hawai’i is very different to ‘the mainland’).

    I think this is purely a reference to the pop culture that we see frequently, and was analysed as if it was someone in the middle of this country in which ethnicity is so fragile.
    Of the media that we get, Hip hop is probably the most materialistic. So I felt it was the obvious reference to make.

  6. Posted October 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    a) Run this concept up the flag pole – a lot of hip-hop culture is actually quite repellent… some of it deliberately so as an attention-getting strategy.
    b) Anyone with a tiger on a leash thoroughly DESERVES to get mocked
    c) Lorde didn’t put herself and #1 – the American listening and record-playing public did… so just maybe they agree….

  7. Posted October 8, 2013 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    Hi Veronika,

    As you will have realised, many of us commenting here are New Zealanders.

    As a country, we have our issues, don’t get me wrong. We are a younger culture, our cultural hangups are different…our wealthy and ‘elite’ are fairly new and often of a working class background. The type of privilege you speak of means nothing to us – on the whole we really are far more egalitarian than this.

    This was a dreadfully done piece of deconstruction: you’ve taken one line, out of context, without trying to even understand Lorde’s point of view.

    I do sincerely hope you have read and considered the points raised in the comments, because there are many very excellent, very coherent points. I hope you have a better understanding of your own bias and lack of understanding of the world beyond your own, and an interest in the impact of imported American culture on the rest of the world – essentially, Lordes song was OUR answer to this.

  8. Posted October 8, 2013 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Hi,

    I am pretty sure Lorde is not s***ing on blacks a you suggest. I am sure of this because here we don’t have “Blacks” or “Whites”. What we have are people.

    I am pretty sure she didn’t diss Polo because it s almost unheard of here (except when the Olympic games are on). Likely she didn’t diss golf because here anyone and every one can play golf, it’s not an elite sport. Golf courses are to use an American term “a dime a dozen”. And she probably has no idea why to disrespect Central Park East because like myself she probably had no idea what that was.

    We don’t really have a lot of old money folk either, apart from the Queen and the rest of the Royals, but fortunately for us they live on the other side of the world in England and seldom visit or bother us.

    What we do have is a wonderful multicultural society with a very small minority of racist people, and they are dying out, and may even be extinct within a generation with a little luck. But we were lucky, we never had your problems, we didn’t need a civil war to free slaves because we never had slaves, and we never had to herd the indigenous peoples into shitty reservations because we formed our nation with a treaty ensuring equal rights to all peoples 20 years before your civil war.

    Hopefully your nation can be like ours one day, hopefully soon you guys can put racism behind you. The world knows about your government shut down and we are astonished that your elected officials would rather destroy their own country than work with a “Black Man”. Astounded at how backwards you are when it comes to a persons skin.

    Cheers and good luck.

    • Posted October 13, 2013 at 12:04 am | Permalink

      Rob, I certainly hope that your comment was simply missing a sarcmark at the end. I had to register just for the utter cluelessness that *appears* to have come from you. So, again, let me apologize if you meant your response as a tongue-in-cheek reply to the column…but if you were serious, you might want to step outside and ask a Maori if racism and bigotry still exists in NZ…

  9. Posted October 8, 2013 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    Her age, her gender, and her birthplace are irrelevant, this is just poor writing, plain and simple. I found my way here because this particular blog has gained some attention in New Zealand media circles. The blog itself was pretty disappointing to read. Racism is serious stuff, very serious. So plucking a couple of lyrics from a song and painting a person you’ve never met as a racist by virtue a song they have written is equal parts alarming and saddening. This isn’t even unintentionally racist. Do you judge your books by a couple of paragraphs too? I get we live in the internet age, I get we are all free to speak our minds. But please do some research before you do.

    I find it more racist that the writer sees things like Maybachs, gold teeth, and diamonds on ones timepiece as uniquely ‘black things’, with some kind of black ownership attached; than a 16 year old white girl denouncing them as being signifiers of some kind of social ideal or status. If this were the opposite, if she wanted these things, is she then absolved from being racist? Is she an apologist? Is she then not white enough?

    Macklemore likes his candy painted Caddy, Lana Del Rey her Maybach, both were white at last report. I’m sure if I searched farther than the top of my head I could find plenty of white folk who drink Cristal, or who wear gold teeth too. These are objects obtained by wealth, advertised and endorsed lyrically by musicians who are role models to a generation. They are not identifiers of a culture. Moreover, music, and music culture, is colourblind. An ethnicity does not hold dominion over, or exclusive right to it.

    That is not to say I believe the writer to be racist, rather that there are better ways to promote meaningful discussion than by calling someone else a racist. Especially without carefully considering what caused them to arrive at this conclusion in the first place, and if there is any kind of greater question to answer before arriving at said conclusion. In the bloggers case, perhaps asking themselves whether the reference to gold plated teeth, jewel encrusted watches, expensive cars, and equally expensive alcohol, is indicative of hip-hop cultures place in the mainstream; or the place of African Americans in mainstream society. I would argue it is much more about the influence of music than the colour of your skin.

    10 or so minutes research on Lorde, New Zealand, and the prevailing musical landscape of New Zealand could’ve told you more about the girl than two carefully selected lines in a song. 10 more would’ve given you a thesis for a much more interesting piece of literature.

    • Posted October 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      I completely agree, Sam. There is a reason why critics are strictly critics and it’s because critics are not artists. I’m not saying critics aren’t intelligent, but they’re not artist.

      Critics (not all critics, but a majority) don’t have courage and they wouldn’t recognize a well crafted and well written song if it hit them in the head. All critics have is their own biased opinions and they will go out of their way to present their negligent, and cynical opinions to make up for their lack of creative talents. Of course, this is only my tough love and equally justified opinion.

      • Posted October 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        Good criticism is an art form – and it’s not about ‘agreeing’ or ‘disagreeing’ with them, but about starting a discussion. This article DOES that, and it does it well. Because, yes, Lorde is – to an American audience – very clearly coding her lyrics to a certain subset of cliche African American culture and attacking them while letting other, ‘whiter’ kind of wealth slip by without comment… but, we’ve had a few NZ commenters point out that the culture there – which is what Lorde would be coming from and speaking to – may have some important differences. Neither group is completely right and neither group is completely wrong, and dismissing either opinion wholesale is a great way to never engage with anyone different from yourself in a meaningful way.

        And it isn’t about just spouting off a random opinion, and if you’re reading critics who do that… uh, stop? They’re obviously bad at what they do. Go seek out insightful critics. Again: Not critics you agree with 100% of the time. That’s a useless exercise in narcissism. But ones who make you think.

        Because there ARE experts who understand music, film, art, and literature. There are a lot of people who don’t who get work as critics anyway… but there are a lot of mechanics who are bad at their job, too, and that doesn’t mean that ‘mechanics as a profession’ are useless. Experts are experts are experts. Don’t dismiss the hard work of intelligent people just because you don’t like what they have to say.

        • Posted October 11, 2013 at 12:47 am | Permalink

          No. Good critics are just good critics, not artist. But, nice try.

          I have no issue with criticism. And I agree, it’s not about agreeing or disagreeing. We can all agree to disagree. That is not the point here. What I do have an issue with is Veronica’s scathing vindictiveness.

          There is a difference between good criticism and flat out being accusatory. There is also a difference between being prejudice and being racist. And no matter how you or all the other people who agree with Veronica try to spin it, Lorde is not a racist.

          Veronica’s blog is defamatory, libelous, negligent, reckless, judgmental and misleading. Veronica is not critiquing, she is publicly and personally labeling Lorde as a racist. And for Veronica to accuse Lorde of being a racist is completely, and utterly deplorable.

          If you want to over analyse a sixteen year old girl who is courageously making people think and spin it into some form of racist hate speech, go right ahead.

        • Posted October 12, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

          Criticism for the sake of criticism is counter productive. If criticism has roots in reality, then it is constructive. However this blog takes a few lines of a song which poke and prod at Hip-Hop culture and blow them out of proportion. To say that all hip-hop culture is “black culture” is flat out incorrect and racist.

  10. Posted October 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure you know what the word “racist” means. If anything, you are the one being racist by symbolising these lyrics and the rap and hip hop genre to black people only, which as the majority of the world knows, isn’t the case.

    • Posted October 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      So you would argue that rap is not a genre that has its origins in black culture, and that even today is predominantly black in the face it puts forward, and that there are a lot of prominent people in the hip hop community who think white rappers are appropriating and sanitizing black culture and should stop?

      I’m curious as to where your evidence there is coming from.

      • Posted October 13, 2013 at 3:40 am | Permalink

        I, for one, would argue that Rap used to be about the difficulties faced by African Americans. It was about the trials they faced and it was something they could ALL relate to. It wasn’t about expensive shopping lists, it wasn’t about selling out and becoming a TV cop. It wasn’t about bragging about your tiger and your gold plated everything when some African Americans are still struggling to feed their children, when they can’t pull themselves out of the situation they’re in no matter how hard they struggle against it.

        It was something beautiful, once. It was the soul of a people, laid out for everyone to see. Now it’s a damn Hymn to capitalism and blatant misogyny, where instead of the listener feeling like they aren’t alone in their situation, they’re now having to listen to a lucky man brag about his expensive shopping list. Saying that blowing all that money they’ve earned on tacky, gaudy nonsense is a “Black” thing and by disrespecting it you’re disrespecting them is racist. If you look carefully, a lot of successful African Americans give back to their community. Most modern day rappers are just self absorbed children who want more toys.

        They’re nothing more than your fat cat capitalists on Wall Street, with less money and house parties instead of private functions.

  11. Posted October 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  12. Posted October 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    To all New Zealanders commenting on this article.

    Please ignore Veronica and people like her. This is very typical of white liberals in America. They all have this notion that black people are incapable of articulating their daily experience aand extract justice, and therefor, it’s up to them, white liberals, to speak on the darkies behalf. I know, laughable.

    You see, white liberals in America are quite insecure about themselves and it shows in what they do on the daily basis in the media, online, and in our universities. They’re quite delusional because when they express their opinions, they speak as if black people aren’t in the same room, and as if they know what it’s like to be black . White liberals do not offer their opinions in the spirit of solidarity with blacks, but rather, to elevate themselves. They use their education not to share knowledge but as tool to beat tse darkies with and remind them of their place.

    To Veronica, be careful with your thought. You are what you’re thinking.

  13. Posted October 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    The writer’s argument only works if you believe that only black people are materialistic idiots with gold teeth, which is a deeply racist assumption.

  14. Posted October 9, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    This song is about the youth problems, the fact that we as young adults are being sold by the media of equating a fabulous life in having such items mentioned above. I really don’t think that this is about hip-hop as it is about celebrity culture. These celebrities live an ostentatious life, the younger the more “showy” it seems, and media is feeding this to us.

    While I think it’s great that an army of defenders from New Zealand are rallying against this very weak argument yet an extremely strong accusation. I do find it disturbing that the arguments made by some users have painted New Zealand as utopia. While I agree that New Zealand is quite different from America it would be foolish to paint it as perfect, where there are no racism. It is insulting for the readers who have experienced it, and it diminishes the strength of your argument, so please stop.

  15. Posted October 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t read your whole worthless article at first, but I do see you are incredibly racist, the one shitting on black people with your generalization of their culture; I’m sure they appreciate it.

  16. Posted October 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    An open letter to Veronica Bayetti Flores,

    “In a post on the prominent feminist blog feministing.com, writer Veronica Bayetti Flores took issue with the song’s lyrics, in which Yelich-O’Connor sings that “every song” is about gold teeth and Maybach luxury cars — both fixtures of hip-hop music videos — before concluding “we don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.”

    “While I love a good critique of wealth accumulation and inequity, this song is not one; in fact, it is deeply racist,” wrote Bayetti Flores. “Because we all know who she’s thinking when we’re talking gold teeth, Cristal (champagne) and Maybachs. So why s*** on black folks? Why s*** on rappers?”

    So this song is racist because it talks about “gold teeth, cadillacs, champagne, and maybachs” in a derogatory way. And due to the fact that all of those things are almost always associated with black people…it’s racist?!

    Let’s try the idea that gold teeth, cadillacs and champagne shouldn’t be stigmas constantly associated with black people. Things we as a people shouldn’t present to the rest of the world as things that matter or are what make us black. Perhaps if the general populace of black americans, who are in the spotlight representing our people as a whole; weren’t peddling gold chains, hoes, jordans, and not ever wearing a belt you wouldn’t have a problem with someone who is white, brown, blue, pink, or rainbow colored pointing out that ALL of those things are stupid, won’t make you happy or your life valuable.

    Don’t be mad at some 16 year old New Zealand girl who clearly has a better grasp on the things that are wrong with human culture than you do. Shame on you for holding onto the idea that clothes, drinks, accessories, cars, and benjamins belong to one culture and make us what we are. Shame on you for playing into the stereotypes and reassuring every black person and the whole of the internet that all of that is okay.

    Racist? YOU are racist. You decided some white girl whose only education on American Race History probably comes from popular movies, music, and tabloids has no business talking about “black things”. Perhaps you need to take a moment and ask yourself WHY. Why is her idea of what black culture is all about tigers on leashes, trashing hotel rooms, and blood stains? I don’t think any of that is her fault. It is YOURS. You get all up in arms because some white person has the audacity to vaguely point out some of things that is wrong with our culture, and not just black culture either. You Mad Bro? I’m mad. As a black woman I am mad that YOU call a girl and her song, a song that should be an anthem for black people, RACIST.

    Again. RACIST?! You are racist. You are a racist because you hold onto the ridiculous stereotypes of what black people are and what makes them black. You are racist because you perpetuate these stupid ideas that rims and getting crunk are what we are and that we should be proud. And anyone who has the gumption to point out that those are all the things that are wrong is a racist? You are also an idiot, and PLEASE for the love of anything and everything DO NOT make a point to try to defend my race to anyone. You CLEARLY have it wrong.

    • Posted October 10, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Hi Cynthia. I so appreciate your comments. I think Veronica has opened up an interesting discussion here. I agree with you that some musicians send out a very bad message calling women all sorts of names like “bitches” and “hos”. Feminists should be tackling that issue also. Lorde is 16, but a smart cookie. She knows exactly what she is saying, and has no doubt chosen her words precisely. She is taking on fake imagery in the modern pop world, that are not relevant to real people. She is a New Zealander, and a poet, and uses direct language, but never in an oppressive, nasty or racist way. She is fed up with all this consumerism and selfishness conveyed in pop songs, as we all are.

  17. Posted October 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    It is incredible that an educated woman like yourself ” Veronica” would be making any such comments related to a very, very talented and young 16yr old woman from New Zealand. This young woman is not writing/singing about racism but instead is expressing her opinion about the ridiculous and “materialistic” American dream…..An American dream none the less that has become a complete blurred line from its original intent of “Freedom”.
    I find you to be a hypocryte based on writing about Feminism! If anything you are jumping to ridiculous conclusions and supressing this young woman from expressing herself. In reality I doubt anyone really cares what your opionion even is but to make this a racist article points the finger back at you.
    I have 5 children and from the non-sense I see daily on television I clearly understand where she is coming from? Lorde’s seems like a very intelligent woman for her age……and now sucessful.
    Do you watch television? or are you stuck in a glass house somewhere up in the hills fighting the battle between Black and White? Wake-up! I am from Canada and while racism does exist here and everywhere it is evident this song has nothing to do with it. Please stop stirring the pot!
    On a daily basis I see many youth trying to impersonate many of their “heros” and from what I see I doubt many of these youth will even end-up getting a job! The perception of success and reality for so many is so skewed that many cannot recover being so far out in la-la land. I am proud to be Canadian and I clearly did not grow-up in a tense racial world that you call home so don’t make it the rest of the worlds problem! or bring Miss. Lorde into yours!

  18. Posted October 9, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    I find it a little funny how this article is written by someone who isn’t “of color”, as our American society would politely phrase. With that in mind, this article, to me in my most humble opinion, sounds like a projection of the author’s beliefs.

    I wonder when the chip-on-the-shoulder racism attitude will end–racism is only kept alive by those who insist on stamping everything as “racist”.

    Relax, it’s just a song. The girl’s 16. And what the media portrays as wealth these days DO include Cristal and gold teeth and Maybachs. No need to get salty.

  19. Posted October 9, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m a lesbian and I’m offended by the hate lyrics commonly found in hip hop music. Veronica, if you only listen to NPR and local hip hop stations, then why are you not commenting on their lyrics, which are explicitly more graphic, disgusting, homophobic and hateful then this song.

    Veronica, you shouldn’t be a part of this site. You are unfair, unequal in your criticism and you are racist.

  20. Posted October 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    As a fellow feminist and critical thinker conscious of the intersections of race, class, and (trans)/gender in America, I know what you wanted to say. You wanted to lump Lorde with Miley Cyrus and call it day. People rightfully don’t agree with your argument that is terribly problematic and frankly patronizing not just to readers but to black folks and people of color as well.

    Lorde has the right to speak about popular culture and the white-run, white-consumed, minstrel-show that is all too often what we get from mainstream hip hop made for profit that has N-o-t-h-i-n-g to do with underground hip hop and the d-i-v-e-r-s-i-t-y of black culture in America.

    a) It is profoundly racist of you to lump “all of blackness” and “people of color” to some music video props.

    “Black music” (in a cultural studies context) has a legacy in almost every single American musical art form we have from blues to rock and roll to disco and beyond. Trying to “save black music” from someone demeaning it and dismissing it, is not what you did here. You literally linked all black folks to MTV music video props! That is the only thing racist here.

    Lorde never took issue with “black American music” (which is all American music). She loves hip-hop and apparently you do too from your video on Twitter. Lorde didn’t film herself in her hipster apartment trying her best impression of “coolness” on the backdrop of “black musical” hip hop beats (which is what you would expect from a 16 year old). Nope, she made a damn good critique of silly props and consumerism that you would expect from a feminist blog. She has the right to make her thoughtful critique and do what feminism intended: EXPRESS HERSELF, make music if you wants, continue being thoughtful and live without someone unfairly shaming her!

    Are you the one that gives permission to who can critique pop culture if that intersects with “black music”? Which brings me to the second point.

    b) Feeling entitled to save “blackness” or “protect it” in the way you just did is very infantalizing and condescending.

    c) Without looking at class and culture in your critique (as if there is not just one monolithic black culture and it lived in an MTV music video) is problematic at best and racist at worst.

    Lorde is not just a feminist but in light of this article seems to be a much more critical and thoughtful than other self-proclaimed older feminists that took a few race and gender classes in college and learned a few concepts they still don’t fully understand. I have become her fan of Lorde thanks to this article. I didn’t realize just how relevant she was.

    On a personal note, since we seem to have gone there by calling Lorde a racist based on nothing, I would like to say from one feminist to another, being unable to listen to the wisdom of the great critiques you are getting here is incredibly similar to what it looks like when Miley Cyrus continues to stick her tongue out and call her appropriation sexy and cool. Being unable to listen to the validity of these comments from “laypeople” as you see them and ignore the many people of color who are also writing to you, evidences a kind of insecurity and elitism to be expected from a Ted Cruz type, not a supposedly self-aware feminist that examines culture.

    Instead of rejecting the very good critiques coming from all over the world including NZ (that are frankly amazingly thoughtful and intelligent, wow, it’s great to hear their points of views) you recognize that you don’t own a monopoly on truth. You viewed it the way you wished to and that is fine but if you can dish out the scathing accusations and critiques you best be prepared to take the intelligent critiques without waving your Victorian wand at the peasants that aren’t “at your level”.

    • Posted October 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Medina, I could not have said it any better. Wonderful clarity on your part. I am shocked at this piece was even written.
      Veronica, just say you do not like Lorde or her music instead of finding ways to cut this sixteen year old down.

  21. Posted October 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    So as an African American female, I am not offended at all. If anything I am delighted of this song. As I will explain with 3 simple points.

    1. Our race, our culture, is beautiful yet has flaws like every other race in this world. If she used the N word or said something like we all like chicken…you know the stuff some typical Americans say behind closed doors…then I would totally understand. But she didn’t.

    2. In the black culture, or others raised like us: meaning you are followed by the cashier while shopping or people look at you funny because of your hair, people automatically think you can dance or deny you your rights by thinking they are your superior, we know all about our music. In our culture, black people know there are two types of us. Ones with couth and ones without. Unfortunately, the country’s history mixed with a little fault of our own made it this way. Thus, we know that our music born on the streets of Brooklyn or Detroit or Philly or somewhere similar is the same. I am glad she pointed out our music. And some of these lines just don’t go to Hip-Hop but cheesy, non-talented singers of all genres who made it by knowing just someone. Some of our music is ridiculous, the ones other cultures laugh at us for, talking about, Money, B*tches, Clothes, I am better than this rapper, Drop it Low, etc. And the rest of our music talks about change, growth, making it out of struggles black people go through, enjoying the best in life, the wonderful hip-hop in all of its glory. Hip-Hop that allowed you to have a good time without getting shot. So I praise this talented mature girl that whooped many talented singers tails. And why? Because she kept it real. Because her and the writers of this song pointed this out without pointing out races. Matter of fact, she gets a pass to come chill because apparently she has some insight.

    3. Let me repeat, I praise this talented 16 year old. I am baffled that Americans just don’t get it. The French knew some of us were and are great singers and allowed us to share our culture’s gift in the days where we couldn’t even sit in the same restaurant as fellow American peers. Other countries get it, while not throwing out the race card. And some Americans wonder why Black Americans act a certain way. Because we are treated as such.

    Lastly, If you have not endured any of the struggles stated or unstated, and no one has step forward of African descent with this concern, you can certainly write a blog, you know free speech and all, but you don’t get to speak on our behalf period. And that’s just not for our race that’s for every race.

    And DON’T EVER FORGET…who like to pull the racism card out on another being as ridiculous as this is most likely racist. You, whoever you are, don’t get a pass to come chill with us.

    NeeNee Bee

    P.S some of this feminism stuff is not feminism but stupidity of battle of the sexes. So when are we going to discuss real feminism such as getting a now single woman out of jail for shooting her husband in self defense of herself and her kids. Answer that, along with racism among women, and then you might get some respect instead of looking like an idiot, hating on a 16 year old.

  22. Posted October 10, 2013 at 4:02 am | Permalink

    Me: Black American 45yo Male …

    Her song is RIGHT!! I don’t know if too many of you have experience with the Music Industry/Record Labels, here but let me say this……

    EVERYTHING you hear coming out on the popular charts and making a “Splash” in Hip-Hop and R&B is “DIRECTED” by executives (even the “underground” …….). You ARE listening to what Rec. Execs. WANT you to listen to, not necessarily what the artist wants to put forth……. because you will NEVER get a deal unless you acquiesce to what the “Moneymen” want you to sell and promote for their pockets.

    You can call it “Sell-Out”, misogynistic, harmful, manufactured, programmed to a “desired outcome” music….. I do.

    But It’s NOT racist in any way. Bringing to light the falsities, frauds and programme (for my European friends….) of Hip- Hop to the world is not racism in any way…

    It’s the truth, and it’s HURTING the U.S. Black Community, because we actually LISTEN to it….. and follow like sheeple…..

  23. Posted October 10, 2013 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    Let me start by saying “Thank you, Veronica!”. You get it. And just like Lorde, many of these posters do not. To those here that think this post is a personal attack on the talent or writing chops of the artist, Lorde, it does not read that way. To all of the detractors who deny there can be any racial context superseding the possible cultural “confusion” when an NZ artist criticizes a U.S. Artist, I want to say, “Sweetie, be real, seriously…”. White Supremacy- yes, you just read the phrase White Supremacy- is in effect, worldwide. Let me define what I mean by this term. I do not mean folks who denigrate other groups but glorify their own use of the racial term “white” to self-identify. And I do not mean white folks with Nazi tattoos that shave their heads, spewing about how their personal problems are caused by the minorities. When I say White Supremacy I mean the global effect of the colonization of most of the peopled areas on the planet by Europeans and their descendants and the resulting centrality of the European beauty aesthetic, opinions and lifestyles as the norm or standard for all civilized people. Simply put: Kiwis, you are not safe from the reaches of White Supremacy or, as one poster put it “American Imperialism”. Veronica called Lorde’s song racist and I would call it lacking in racial sensitivity. That ignorance is part and parcel of believing in the centrality of the attitudes of Europeans and their descendants: White Supremacy. That would be me criticizing the lyrics in Mexican music as an American. What historical research have I done about my own nation’s history let alone that of another group to offer up my critique? Kiwis, your race relations dynamics are your own but please understand Europe and America have touched even your way of seeing your own social dynamics and they have influenced how you perceive the social dynamics of folks you may have little to no contact with- like black Americans. Again Kiwis, as represented by Lorde, in this case, much respect to how your cultures within cultures differ from America’s but the point is: Rap, Hip Hop and American Pop (as performed by American blacks) are not speaking to you or your experience so if you feel the subject matter irrelevant that’s because you’re not the subject. Of course America is pushing a product you didn’t ask to consume. Welcome to capitalism.

    The problem with Lorde’s critique is that while in one respect it criticizes conspicuous consumption, in another respect it entirely takes that message of consumption out of the cultural context from which it grows. To be fair, what would a young, white girl from New Zealand really know about what it means to be black in America? There are blacks in America that might struggle to put the breadth and depth and variety of those experiences into words. Veronica wrote about this, but clearly it does have to be explained, over and over again. The fact that someone needs to explain that there are historical reasons for blacks to talk about flashy lifestlyes in THEIR MUSIC underscores the point I am making that whiteness is considered the default or central point of view. How can there possibly be a way to understand that lyrics about cars mean more than what they seem if my point of view can’t comprehend someone else’s reality? If a person (black, white, Kiwi, American, etc…) identifies closely with whiteness as the default point of view, they may have a difficult time reading hip hop’s flashiness as a reversal of the victim mentality that has been attributed to blacks post-slavery and post-colonialism. If someone identifies with whiteness as the central experience strongly enough they may find it troublesome to read hip hop’s materialism as a celebration of a people who feel they have come from nothing (in the context of American slavery) to having finally arrived at a place of social and financial and actual freedom. One must actually have the ability to step outside of the perspectives of their own culture to be able to give an effective critique. Cultural relativism AND global, White Supremacy are two concepts that we need to explore in concert before decrying Veronica’s or any writer’s thoughts on what lyrics ABOUT BLACK AMERICAN CULTURAL EXPRESSION truly mean. I say Lorde is critiquing not just excess but BLACK AMERICAN CULTURAL EXPRESSION- whether she realizes it or not- because the references she makes are to lyrics, cars, monikers, etc., popularized in pop and hip-hop culture by black, American artists. Not by white, American artists. Not by Kiwi artists. Not by J-pop singers or the cast of Sesame Street. Her references come specifically from black rappers and entertainers. Lorde is talking about the excesses of black people she feels she is being called on to emulate now that their form of cultural expression has significantly crossed over onto the “mainstream’s” (this means white people’s) radar screens. We can see that she personally feels pressure because she writes that “every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom”. Not just some songs, every song. She feels surrounded. She’s getting the message. And she doesn’t like what it’s telling her. But what message is she actually receiving as a white person listening to black music?

    Lorde’s failure to recognize the racial context that does exist in the music she is criticizing is evidence of her belief (subconscious) in the centrality of her own, white perspective. White people in many ways have the option of making themselves aware of or choosing not to take an interest in the affairs of people of color. Until of course capitalism meets racialized reality like it seems to have done for Lorde. I’m not suggesting she can’t have a personal opinion. I’m saying what’s telling is what (understanding) is lacking in her opinion. And now she pens a song against lyrics and realities that were never intended to reflect her own life at all. On some level, I think she feels this, because if she truly believed the lyrics in rap were merely stupid, she could have just turned the station.

  24. Posted October 10, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I helped set up one of the first Feminist Unions, in 1968. One of our founding principals: No Sacred Cows. Why should JayZ and his hip hop counterparts get special treatment for their disgraceful, conspicuous consumption? When you behave badly, you’re wrong, no matter what “urban cliche’” you’re operating under. Why in the world we want to encourage urban youth to strive for the very Republican notion of “greed is good”? Lorde is right to call these Mysogonistic entertainers out for their shameful bling. I, too, am driving a Cadillac in my dreams. No Sacred Cows, even hip hop ones.

  25. Posted October 10, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    I was fascinated by this conversation because I feel the initial premise, that this is a focus on hip hop, may be incorrect. Looking at the lyrics, she does call out gold teeth, cristal, other things popularized by hip hop, but it is not the end of the story. Trashing the hotel room was popularized by rock and punk artists decades ago. Books stains and ball gowns sounds like grunge and punk to me. It is as if we stopped reading at the part that infuriated us and used the rest to somehow back up our rage.

    But I’d like to challenge us to be more thoughtful. What she sends up in her song, to me, is the glorification of riches. In America, riches are the highest virtue, which is why we have the Kardashians, Millionaire Matchmaker, Real Housewives, etc. We demonstrate to the poor (of any color) that they are worthless because they don’t have money, hence a drop in savings rates and a rise on spending on luxury goods. Further, that culture was embraced by only one segment of hip hop. Artists like Talib Kweli aren’t selling that message. Maybe that is why he has struggled to crack the mainstream. When I heard this song it came to me as a rejection of culture of excess, and that is a message I can get behind.

    I may be wrong, and I am open to that, but we need to take the emotions out of it and have a real conversation about these issues without being trite about it and trivializing critical issues.

    • Posted October 13, 2013 at 12:36 am | Permalink

      You know, I think you may just be right. I’ve read many varying opinions of what the lyrics “mean” but you’re really the first person here to directly point out that this song is not ONLY speaking of hip-hop excess. It seems clear that “Royals” is a satiric critique of American popular culture/music/ideals – not simply a part of it associated with blacks – and to that, I can only say “If you don’t like it, then don’t buy it.”

      (This is directed at specific comments on this board from so-called NZers) The idea that the U.S. is force feeding its cultural ideals to other countries is rubbish. Teach your kids to value something other than what America values and your job is done; don’t whine about it when your children look to the West as an ideal if you’re not giving them something of worth to look at at home. /rant

  26. Posted October 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I actually feel intellectually drained from reading your article. You say you listen to mostly hip-hop, so you’re obviously biased. In case you never listen to the lyrics of your beloved music (I listen to hip-hop as well, and it’s blindingly obvious) she is referring to a CULTURE and not a specific RACE. “Jet planes, islands”, etc are had by many wealthy people. However, the most likely reason she chose to focus mostly on “song(s)” from the hip-hop genre is due to their incessant glorification of success, money and power. The reason she doesn’t mention polo matches and tea parties is because hip hop is easily accessible. We hear it every day on the radio. We see it every day online. Eminem is a white rapper. Britney Spears is telling women to “work, bitch” for a Maserati. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with race. Gold is one of the most valuable precious metals, therefore she mentions “gold teeth” for lyrical value. If she instead chose the lyrics “gold coins” would it sound as appealing? Wealthy persons of all backgrounds drink “cristal” but rappers and hip hop artists are the majority of those mentioning it in nearly every song. I can’t believe this actually has to be explained, and that you’re a published writer.

  27. Posted October 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s a beautiful song, rich harmonies, simple, compelling rhythms, and she’s got the strongest, deepest voice of any sixteen year old I’ve heard.

    The song’s about growing up poor in someplace that’s not New York City. To write criticisms that fail to understand that is just myopic and bigoted. It’s not at all about hip hop culture, except to the extent that hip hop culture has pushed the more superficial aspects of it’s values into her life. The references to the world of British royalty are much more prevalent and obvious than references to black inner city Americans who have become rich. I don’t hear you claiming that it’s racist against the Brits.

    The point is, the song’s about her and her experiences, not about you and your New York friends. It’s honesty, and a great deal of it’s cultural and personal appeal, comes from that. The thought that music producers should have somehow interfered with her lyrics, that they should even suggest she refrain from using a few images that hip hop artists made into cliches about their rights to conspicuous consumption is ludicrous. Why should she do that? To avoid offending a few critics who have enshrined rap as some kind of infallible expression against American oppression? She grew up hearing about Kristal as much as she grew up seeing diamond wedding rings only in the movies. What those two things have in common is that they are used in the culture as signs of wealth and that they are utterly unobtainable to her.

  28. Posted October 10, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    This is ridicolous. How is this racist? It clearly talks about the degenerate hip-hop culture, of making it rain in the strip club, gold grills, diamonds etc… You obviously have no clue what you are talking about here. Hip-hop is not a black thing anymore. The ignorant direction this music has been going the last 20 years has made a couple hundred people rich, and the rest have gone backwards, not the way old school hip-hop wanted it to go. It was supposed to be uplifting to the repressed black community. But it is not hard to see and ufnderstand what happened in the 90′s when it was hijacked and turned into a propaganda channel. You need to do some homework before you go and slander someones freedom of speech. Shame on you!

  29. Posted October 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    No, I don’t think I agree with you. We don’t all know who she’s talking about, and if you do, then you must think that all black people, hop-hop, and rap fans must conform to these ill-fitting stereotypes. When I visualize the song in my mind, I see entitled frat boys and debutantes and the 1%ers. Maybe you could reorient your mind’s eye and see if you come up with something different. Regardless, I think that’s a pretty heavy accusation to be throwing at the feet of a 16 year old who tries to be socially aware.

  30. Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    jealousy is a smelly perfume

  31. Posted October 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    First of all you should take into consideration whether or not she even wrote these lyrics herself. Like most pop stars she might have someone writing her songs for her.
    I think that this song is crudely misunderstood and being taken much to seriously when there are accusations being thrown around such as how this sixteen year old girl is racist. The general outlook and appeal of the hip hop or rap genre as far as what’s mainstream is exactly what she is describing in her song. Basically very superficial and flaunting wealth on a tasteless level. If you want to talk about other hip hop as a whole that’s a completly different conversation altogether and really has no place in this situation as there is hip hop that holds a lot of substance in the lyrics but again that is not what this song is referencing.
    I’m sorry, but any educated person can’t honestly talk about any rap on the radio and say that there is a deeper meaning. That is my opinion, its not the point really. What I am trying to say is that this girl is in a way mocking the superficial subculture that has been created (whether it was meant to or not is irrelevant) by mainstream hip hop or mostly rap. She isn’t specifically targeting black people, to say that would be an obvious ignorant statement. Seeing as there are plenty of white individuals, male and female I should add, that talk about the same things in their songs! Lil Debbie, Eminem, Iggy azaela, lil wyte, ICP and the list goes on. None of these people are black but share the same culture.
    Pulling the race card is an ignorant go to and has always been thought of that way. This song is not created to battle the subculture, its just simply saying “we don’t care about an of that stuff”. I think if you really think this song is racist, it sounds like you’re the type of person who feels like they have to challenge everything. I’d say a good idea would be to take things as they are on the surface level and use the good articulation you seem to have for something more productive in a positive manner. Otherwise you’re using a mindset where everyone is in the wrong which just isn’t reality. Besides, this girl is 16 for crying out loud. Let’s not bash her for an opinion she is representing set forth by the people who wrote the song which like I said may or may not be her.
    After all, who are you to judge her when you as a feminist supposedly support a sub culture who has a throw away view on women and is very superficial and materialistic while you’re over here trying to be a feminist. Don’t get me wrong I love hip hop, I always have but I won’t stick up for it, I know what it stands for but I don’t let the music I listen to define me just like I won’t define or judge artists by what lyrics are in the songs they sing. It doesnt always come from their minds.
    Think before you scream racism, its a very serious accusation, there is no reason to start a witch hunt especially if its a little girl.

  32. Posted October 10, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I think there is SOME validity in the argument. The fact of the matter is, more harm harm to the worlds economic climate has been created by the over consumption by greedy old white men, than blacks with a bit of cash under their belt. But….I feel rather than soley calling out the rich and black, it is using one facet of the problem as a focus because it is one that is entrenched into popular culture, and therefor relevant to the intended listeners. Her song and its lyrics were to my understanding not to put down Blacks that have “made it”. But how many teenage listeners out there can identify with the high life of say investment bankers living it good?….fact is they can’t. Good on you Lorde! F the fat cats, the lot of them, white, black whatever!

  33. Posted October 11, 2013 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Flores makes a lot of mistakes here.

    First, she acknowledges that Lorde is from New Zealand so she has no excuse for not recognizing that there are a lot of different white people in the world. Labeling Lorde merely as a “white girl” is to sweep a whole lot of particularities about who Lorde is and what this song might be about in a way that is, frankly, racist.

    In fact, that Lorde is from New Zealand that is the key to understanding this controversy. Flores sees this through an American frame of white vs. black (or something) when this is obviously a working class ditty rejecting corporate pop culture. Or rather, to flesh things out even further, this is about working class kids off on the other side of the planet being fed multinational corporate music product which has nothing to do with their everyday lives and feeds them false desires.

    Flores doesn’t get that, like it or not, hip hop and black American music are essentially the stuff that the multinationals pump out and ship around the globe. To reject corporate pop music is, in this sense, to necessarily reject the hip hop and black American music the big media companies sell. Not out of racist antipathy – but because let’s face it, it’s toxic corporate cultural junk made to fill the ears of the global underclass in the same way that McDonald’s is supposed to fill their bellies.

    To those like Flores who are looking to make this about race, Lorde can’t win once she’s branded a racist. So knock yourself out. But to anyone with an ounce of objectivity, this is a pretty inoffensive working class anthem which in its deepest reading has a pretty cool anti-globalization message.

    It’s truly one of those odd things about contemporary politics that the forces of so-called anti-racism are actually in many ways aligned with the multinational corporate elite.

  34. Posted October 11, 2013 at 4:32 am | Permalink

    I am writing from NZ too and want to thank Verónica for the piece, and getting the debate going. I don’t believe this is a personal attack on Lorde, but a critique which asks us to look deeper, to think about how messages sent in the media are filtered through dominant viewpoints, and therefore impact on our society. Lorde is both the receiver of those messages (as she writes from her perspective as a youth in NZ) but now also one of the shapers (as a successful international artist – I know she is only 16 but now she is). There won’t be universal agreement on the validity of this particular exploration, but so what – are we secure enough to think about the possibility other perspectives might be valid? If we want to be on the global stage then we have to be prepared for different viewpoints on our work. And from what I see not all viewpoints are given equal time and weight in NZ – privilege and dominance exists here too, not just in the US, so taking a step back to consider how that influences youth and adults here is worthwhile. (As an aside it is also true that NZ has a variety of unique perspectives (plural!) on issues of social justice that could add real value on the global stage as well.) Lorde is very talented, I think she is an amazing artist at 16, and she writes from her perspective. But sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know, and we could all learn from hearing other perspectives on what we present as thinkers and as artists – but that’s on a personal level. On a political level we have a duty to fight against systems we see promoting oppression – we may not all agree on what they are and how they operate but it is the ethical thing to do and Verónica’s article is true to that. Ruth Osorio’s post is spot on. I don’t have to agree fully, or even at all, to find my mind expertly stretched in new directions by any thoughtful article that someone is brave enough to present on the public stage.

  35. Posted October 11, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    While this post has some insightful comments, it discounts the fact she is 16, from new zealand, and very likely unaware of whats happening around her to some extent. How many 16 years olds (male or female) do you know that are all that bright to begin with. Raw intelligence or talent does not imply wisdom. Its very likely it never occurred to her what the impact of her lyrics would be, and her commentary may simply be nothing more than words she managed to string together on a lucky thursday evening. Also, consider the way hip-hop has permeated the culture of the world en masse with regard to its origins. if we look at the lyrics…

    It simply reveals some of the common cultural attitudes that pervade American society amongst many young people regardless of race. In the end, shes sixteen and probably a little naive.

  36. Posted October 11, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    This reads like an article written by someone who would have an apoplectic fit if she heard some white 16 year old ordering “a black coffee” at a cafe. If you really need to get mad, get mad at Kayne, who sings lyrics like “We get this bitch shaking like Parkinsons” or Thicke’s “you the hottest bitch in this place”. The track is not racist. When I heard of this track’s success I thought, as a Dad in his 50′s, maybe some of these kids get it. Get that this moronic Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian , Donald Trump bling lifestyle is total bullshit. That’s why they (black and white and…) are buying this track.

  37. Posted October 11, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    JUST ANOTHER [redacted for ableism] AMERICAN WITHOUT A PROPER DEEP UNDERSTANDING OF WORLD CULTURE, YET STILL THINKS THEY KNOW EVERYTHING.

    I love America. I really do. But most of y’all have been showing some true colours to me since I befriended quite a few of you personally and it disgusts me sometimes. (yes I am putting you into one whole stereotype because you all are citizens of the same nation.)

    State your opinion all you like, but for your grown arse to be picking at a TEENAGER’S lyrics in such a negative manner says a lot about your low self esteem. You are implying that Ella is unconsciously a racist.

    Wow indeed…. to your ignorance. You are reading into the song in your own way, therefore this opinion makes YOU the racist one.

    Glad to see you are interested in her because she is indeed unique, she has inspirational messages to offer to the masses through great talent, and she has so much potential. I guess that’s threatening to people who have such low self esteem and have for instance just a blog as their outlet of self expression.

    There are a lot of media people jumping on the back of Ella’s hard work and new found fame, (interpreting her songs and what she says in interviews in several negative ways) and it’s ridiculous.
    But this has to be the most shocking one I’ve seen since she’s become popular in America.

    Just when I think Americans can’t surprise me anymore I see stuff like this surface from your stupid side of pop culture (excluding California’s west coast of awesomeness).

    I’m in shock. I’m a black female living in New Zealand and yes there aren’t a lot of black people around and white people/ asians/maori/natives etc tend to stick to their own groups but at the end of the day that’s down to anthropology not racism.

    Extreme feminists are the effing worse. Your opinions are so extremely bent you have no room for miscellany. What a shame.

  38. Posted October 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps she could have written the lyric to go something like:

    We don’t care, we’re not caught up in your love affair (although we’re sympathetic to the complex dynamics of a minority’s choice of cultural expression in the context of a brutally capitalistic society and institutionalized racism).

    Is that better?

  39. Posted October 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    How is this racist? I don’t follow your assumptions. your pissed that she gave High Society the Finger, by saying how shallow and poor our society has become. This has nothing to do with race, but has everything to do with what kind of junk is being spit across the music waves on the radio. Life is not about sex, drugs, money, and control. But about you being your own person. But I guess writing poetry that has meaning is racist in your world.

  40. Posted October 13, 2013 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Please stop reading into the lines so much, the song is not racist. The fact that you find it racist surely tells us about your thought process. It’s really sad that you felt the need to go after this amazing song just to get a few more people to read your blog. Well it worked, but the only thing you proved to people is how worthless and extraneous your blog is.

  41. Posted October 13, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    How dare you use a quote from Jay-Z in a piece filled with so much trash. Shame on you.

  42. Posted October 14, 2013 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    It’s been said already by other Kiwis visiting this site, but I’ve gotta add my 2 cents worth.

    I used to read feministing. But I stopped about a year ago because it is all so myopic, introspective and ignorant of the vast majority of the world. It’s often patronising to POC. It’s completely US centric.

    This article is so totally and completely US centric, and therein lies a big cause of it’s flaws.

    We outside of the US (I’m in NZ) get washed in what I call “coca cola culture”. We have our own culture for sure, but our media is full of US TV, movies and music. THIS is what Lorde is pointing out methinks, and it has nothing to do with your issues with racism within the USA.

    It’s not all about you. There’s a whole world out here which sees things differently to you.

    And if black people in the USA find Lord’s lyrics racist? I’m pretty sure they’d be saying so.

  43. Posted October 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    first of all, i’m sorry that you’re receiving personal attacks for this piece. that’s never okay, and anyone who would resort to such statements does so because they have absolutely nothing to contribute to a productive dialogue.

    that being said, i feel like this piece is really reaching. i had actually never heard of the song or the singer before i stumbled upon a report on the controversy on cnn (i’ve been on something of an unintentional pop culture hiatus for the past few months, due to the distraction and sleep deprivation that a new baby brings). but i have to say, i’m glad i found it, because i really enjoy the song, and lorde’s entire record.

    almost every basic rebuttal point that i wanted to say has already been said, so i won’t repeat those. i will add, though, that the title of the song is “royals,” not “rappers.” if the title had been the latter, i could possibly see the point. but it’s kind of hard to get a racism conviction when the title of the song alludes to the wealth and consumption of prominent white european families, particularly the british monarchy, under which new zealand is ruled as a commonwealth. (unless the term “royals” has some meaning in rap that i’m unaware of. i mean, i’m 30. i’m kind of a square.)

    to be honest, i was frustrated while reading this piece, because i felt like this is the kind of thing that conservatives/right-wingers/anti-feminists/racists/choose-your-own-term point to as an illustration of how “those crazy liberals call everything racist.” the way i see it, this piece is kind of like a wolf-cry for racism…and when things actually do arise that warrant a meaningful discussion about race and culture and how they are disgustingly appropriated in american pop culture (hello, miley cyrus), because of pieces like this, the folks that need to listen the most just roll their eyes and brush off the discussion as so much “hot air from those shrew feminists who have their panties in a wad over nothing yet again.”

  44. Posted October 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    “Why aren’t we critiquing wealth by taking hits at golf or polo or Central Park East? Why not take to task the bankers and old-money folks who actually have a hand in perpetuating and increasing wealth inequality?” Well the reason she isn’t covering those topics is because she’s saying “songs be like”, as in popular songs in popular culture. How many chart-topping hits do you know that are saying “Golf carts, brandy, tripping ’round the Benefit Gala”? It doesn’t make her racist, she’s just commenting on a trend in music under pop culture’s umbrella.

  45. Posted October 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I beg to differ. You actually did call her racist when you said “let’s just hope her feminism gets a lot less racist as she develops as an artist.” You may want to argue semantics that you didn’t actually write the words, “Lorde is racist,” but we all know what you meant. It was very clear. And now you are saying your blog is solely about how this song lands in the U.S. First of all, that’s not even remotely believable to anyone who read your blog. That was not the topic. And, furthermore, IF that is true, then what a completely pointless blog…it would basically be: this song, which is totally not racist, feels racist when an American hears it. In that case, who cares? It’s obviously a song about class differences and the consumption differences between class. And it’s really a quite brilliant song, particularly for a 16-year-old. I find it unfortunate that you went after it based on a subjective interpretation of the lyrics that I and many others feel miss the point entirely.

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