This Week In History: Lorde Goes Viral with Debut EP

November, 2012: Lorde self-releases her first EP on Soundcloud and rapidly takes over the charts.

At just seventeen years of age, an obscure New Zealander named Ella Yelich-O’Connor took the world of music by storm with her debut, self-released Soundcloud EP The Love Club. She used the stage name Lorde to reflect her fascination with “royals and aristocracy,” with an “e” at the end to make it more feminine. Within weeks after its release, she had her first hit single with “Royals”. Within a few months, she had her first full-length album which would soon go on to sell over three million copies.

As early as middle school, Lorde was a performer and lead vocalist in her band Extreme. She also performed duets with her friend Louis McDonald at their school’s talent show. In 2009, Lorde and McDonald earned a guest spot performing covers of Kings of Leon and Pixie Lott live on Radio New Zealand. McDonald’s father sent the recording to Scott MacLachlan, who worked A&R at Universal Music Group. The label saw potential, and decided to sign Lorde and help develop her talents.

Lorde and McDonald continued to perform at cafes and theatres around Aukland in 2010. She was paired with a vocal coach in 2011, and began searching for songwriting partners to work with on her first original recordings. She teamed up with songwriter and producer Joel Little, and together they penned Lorde’s first five songs for an EP.

In November 2012, Lorde released her first EP, The Love Club, through her Soundcloud page for free download. The EP went viral, and quickly hit 60,000 downloads before the label decided to officially release it in March 2013. It peaked at number two in New Zealand and Australia, and in June she released the first official single: “Royals”. That song became a crossover hit, and dominated the charts for nine consecutive weeks. Lorde was the youngest solo artist to earn a number one in the US since Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” released in 1987. “Royals” won the 2013 APRA Silver Scroll Award, and Grammy Awards for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.

The success of Lorde’s debut EP teed up her debut studio album, which she dropped in September 2013. Pure Heroine would again top the charts of New Zealand and Australia, plus reaching the top five in Canada, Ireland, Norway and the UK. The album reached number tree on the Billboard 200, and since its release has sold over 3.4 million copies.