Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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Pure Heroine



A new kind of teen pop, wise beyond its years—featuring one of the biggest hits of the 21st century.

During the aughts, the party-hearty teen-pop pantheon was a sea of Auto-Tuned vocals, sugary-sweet lyrics, misappropriated school uniforms, and twerking Disney stars. Then came Lorde. On Pure Heroine, her 2013 debut album, the Auckland-born singer-songwriter born Ella Yelich-O’Connor relied instead on restrained, almost growled vocals set to skeletal, programmed beats. She focuses on the realities of suburban teenage ennui from the very first track, “Tennis Court,” which opens with the line “Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk?”

The album’s centerpiece—one of the biggest hits of the 21st century—is “Royals,” which describes the inherent disconnect of being a broke schoolkid listening to luxe-life rap tunes: “But every song's like, ‘Gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom/We don’t care/We’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.” And the album’s success made room for a new raft of teenage stars wise beyond their years, including Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo, who could make music as moody and menacing as adolescence itself.

“I was really proud of baby me. I was like, ‘This is awesome. Good on you. You were asking real questions of your world.’”


on relistening to Pure Heroine as an adult