Lorde: a mole in the mainstream?

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Journal Article
Celebrity Studies, 2017, 8 (1), pp. 51 - 70
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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. In her essay ‘Mainstream as Metaphor: Imagining Dominant Culture’, Alison Huber lists some of the values often assigned to mainstream pop music in Dick Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style, and other sources, both ‘popularly and academically’–‘banal, homogeneous, unsophisticated, undiscerning, uncultured, low, inauthentic, fake, commercial, conservative, conformist or just plain stupid’–before going on to defend it. Pop ‘mainstreamness’, she asserts, is also now achieved through ‘digital downloads, file-sharing and social media’ rather than ‘CD singles, hit countdowns and music magazines’. This shift in mediatisation–although the hegemony of the US Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Music Awards, Grammy Awards and, to a lesser extent, Brit Awards and local music awards still reigns supreme–partly explains how a completely unknown 16-year-old from Auckland, New Zealand, can suddenly achieve US mainstream pop supremacy, and appear to completely overturn all of Huber’s list of perceived negative values. This article considers Lorde from eight different perspectives: Lorde as a celebrity, Lorde the ‘gifted child’, Lorde as a feminist, Lorde and Miley Cyrus, Lorde’s influences, Lorde in/on the music industry, Lorde as a teenager and, finally, the impact and value of Lorde’s music.
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