Friday, June 21, 2019

A Window Above: Royals

Song: "Royals"
Writers: Ella Yelich-O'Connor and Joel Little
Original Release: June 3, 2013
Original Performer: Lorde
Album: The Love Club EP

"Royals" is one of the best-selling singles of all time: 10 million copies worldwide.  It topped the US charts for nine consecutive weeks.  It is, for my money, the best pop song of the current decade, a triumph of minimalism in an age of sensory overload.  Not bad for an artist's debut release.

Supposedly, Lorde wrote the lyrics in half an hour - ill-making, really.  The title was inspired by a National Geographic photo of George Brett, of all people.  Why a New Zealand teenager would be drawn to a photo of a long-retired American baseball player is a bit of a mystery but whatever works, right?
Image result for george brett national geographic
via National Geographic
"Royals" is one of those songs that was begging for an acapella cover from the get-go.  I threw an arrangement together for my students when we did Macbeth.  They sang it at King Duncan's entrance - worked perfectly.  Wish I'd recorded it but, alas, no.  Fortunately, others have been wiser in preserving their interpretations.

Pentatonix, so good:

Is there anything cooler than Bruce Springsteen covering your song? live? in your hometown?

"Foil" by Weird Al:

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?


  1. New to me - and a good discovery :-)

  2. I've heard of this song, but I guess I've never actually heard it before because I didn't recognize it at all.
    I like the Pentatonix version better than the original (didn't have time to listen beyond that).

  3. I always found it underwhelming, and not even particularly saved by lush singing from Lorde. You could have anyone singing it. To my mind, and I'm not saying it's wrong to actually like it, "Royals" is kind of proof that any song can be popular if it happens to land in the right spot.

    1. To each one's own, of course. For me, the song just has that certain something. Nearly all media is so noisy these days. It's refreshing to see someone find success by tearing it all down.

  4. I haven['t heard this song before but how wonderful to use it in the Macbeth production !

  5. Fascinating. I know this song- but had no idea how it came to be. Interesting that it was sparked from the photo you shared. I love Lorde's voice and think it is super cool that this was included in a production of Macbeth!

  6. I like this song, though I hate how much it's been overplayed.

    1. Fair point. I still think it's the sort of song that will still make for joyous rediscovery by new listeners 10, 20, 30 years from now.

  7. The Kansas City Royals? Interesting that she'd be inspired by that photo. I haven't heard of George Brett in years. The song is lovely because her voice is beautiful.


    1. Of all people, right? Do they even play baseball in New Zealand?

  8. I like this song, but my favorite is the original