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Feminist Takes Lorde To Task: ‘Royals Is Deeply Racist’

Written by Greg Moskovitch on October 4, 2013

Feministing contributor Veronica Bayetti Flores has taken New Zealand songstress Lorde to task for perceived racial undertones in her hit single Royal. Flores contends that Lorde’s depiction of millennial excess is a stab at the African-American community.

“Have you heard this young lady, Lorde, on the radio?” asks Flores, before declaring that she’s “kind of at a loss about the way that her big hit, Royals, is being talked about.” Flores admits that she only recently became aware of the Kiwi singer, finding her by way of YouTube.

Stupefied by the Royals clip, she then proclaims “Holy. S**t. What did this white girl just say?” and proceeds to lambast the 16-year-old for the racist nature of the lyrics, saying “While I love a good critique of wealth accumulation and inequity, this song is not one; in fact, it is deeply racist.”

Flores, a graduate of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, cites lines such as “But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom“, as a racist condemnation of blacks, rather than stabs at affluence, since she doesn’t mention “golf or polo.”

“We all know who she’s thinking when we’re talking gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs,” says Flores. “So why s**t on black folks? Why s**t on rappers? …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.”

The writer also takes The New York Times to task for ignoring the song’s blatant racism in their review of a Lorde performance. Far from a racist diatribe, the Times view the track as in fact highlighting the disparity between high-def images of wealth and the grey reality for most youth.

Criticism is also levelled at Lorde’s record company and management for being “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.”

Though she didn’t spare Lorde her lashes either, saying “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.”

Flores finishes the burning dispatch by acknowledging Lorde’s regard for herself as a “feminist,” but hopes “her feminism gets a lot less racist as she develops as an artist.”

She postscripts the blog with the full lyrics of Royals, which, stripped of their sound bed, do indeed resemble those of No Remorse.

Read our review of Lorde’s debut LP ‘Pure Heroine’ right here.

Watch: Lorde – Royals

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