Riverdale Avenue Books
Let’s forget the fact that this book is subtitled How This Young Feminist Broke All The Rules and Succeeded – or at least ignore the fact that Lorde was signed to a major label and “developed” with sessions with professional songwriters across a few years. Because that’s not really rule-breaking in my book. But then, this isn’t my book. This is Marc Shapiro’s – a hack who writes a form of music churnalism where he turns out fan-bios on rising pop stars and movie actors, his idea of fact-checking is to make sure names are spelt correctly – at least on the cover.
Shapiro’s painting of Auckland – and New Zealand – will be mildly amusing to New Zealanders, it’s not that it’s insulting in any way, just an obvious stab in the dark. He gets names and places wrong, unless of course one of Lorde’s early songwriting mentors was in fact Bob Runga – some toru-wha guitar-star from whatever local boozer who was knocked out of the process early on for recommending the hook-line be, “we’ll never smoke off foils/FOILS/It’s not that good for ya lungs…let me be your designated roller/ROLLER…”
This cut’n’paste hatchet man takes from all the stories that have appeared in New Zealand’s press – and on the world stage. So much so his book more closely resembles a ransom note, demanding utmost fandom. Immediately. He’s not even clear on where, geographically, the stories have originated. So long as they mention Lorde – and that long, full real name, which (contractually?) always has to be mentioned – he’s happy to snip and glue down into his book, the flimsiest of handshakes if we’re going to call it any sort of introduction to the subject.
We’re told that Prince is an obvious antecedent – so I guess you can learn some things here, you listen to the music and that’s not really that obvious at all. But we are told – many times over – that Lorde was a genius. Sent, early, to a school for the gifted, told she had the mental age of a 21 year old when she was just six. No, really. And with proud, loving, supportive parents that helped nurture a love of reading and art and culture. Breaking all of them rules, yo!
Poor Lorde. Poor Ella. And her sucker uber-fans. They don’t deserve this – well, alright, maybe the sucker uber-fans do. They always do. It’s almost irrelevant who the artist is. In fifteen months time there’ll be a new Lorde or Beiber or Britney or MJ. They lap this stuff up, the CD cases might as well be coasters, magazine features and book covers are just decorations as much as anything, pin-ups for the wall.
You certainly wouldn’t want to take anything from this book to heart.
“Her stage name is an exercise in attitude, independence with a side of pop feminism and teen angst done up in a whole new, smarter way that has quickly left her teen contemporaries in the dust”.
Well, hopefully you get some insight into just how hokey this thin skim of mumbo-jumbo really is when I tell you that’s Shapiro being erudite, one of the sharpest – most on – statements in the book. Good lord/e, right?
“Lorde is anti-pop in the best possible way. She speaks her mind rather than mouthing public relations platitudes and is not afraid to air those opinions and convictions. And if somebody gets hit by her intellectual fallout, well that’s too bad”.
The book might have been longer, but Shapiro’s typing fingers were tuckered out from all the sassy snaps he gave himself in the mirror at the end of each paragraph. Mmmm-hmmm.
Okay, so this review is a waste of your time, just as reading the book was a waste of mine – and writing it was no waste of Shapiro’s, Google should really have a co-author credit here, minimum. But the real tragedy this time around – these sorts of fan/fad-bio pamphlets have existed for a few decades now and, surprisingly, even in the age of the internet they continue – is that Lorde, at 17, hasn’t really achieved anything that a study into her life could explain. There is no background for this. There is marketing, there is – if you like – talent. I don’t like the music so far, nor the embarrassing hype around her from people who should be old enough to know better. But there is chart success and achievement that has so very little to do with breaking rules, more following them as if a guidebook actually. And there is not real insight into that process – at least nothing extra beyond the column inches that have already piled up far too high.
So to read some hack who can’t be bothered to do the quickest comb-over of spell-checks, nor to actually quote one person directly from the source, to simply stitch together a Google-trail of hype and nonsense is of course half an hour you could never get back. But why should this guy get anything resembling kudos or a profit from work that other writers have done? Fuck him. What a bloodsucking, pathetic, sell-out creep. He’s like if some student job-search strip-picker started calling themselves an orchardist – after half a day’s work.
It would be nice to think that Lorde fans are far too smart for his book. And I’m sure most of them are. They could learn more from following her on Twitter for one night no doubt.
Just remember though, anyone super-quick to defend Lorde on the grounds of chart success, sales, winning a Grammy…tread very carefully. For Marc Shapiro is a “best-selling” author; NY Times, no less…he too is “successful”. On one level…