Lorde – “Royals” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Lorde’s “Royals” is a  picture of an individual’s rejection of the opulence and materialism often depicted in popular culture. Lorde expresses the disparity between real-life experiences and the glittery world seen in media through the lyrics. While countless songs celebrate luxury brands and a lavish lifestyle, “Royals” is a reminder that not everyone relates to or craves that kind of life. Lorde wrote the song as an outsider looking in, stating that genuine experiences and relationships are more valuable than fleeting glitz and glamour.

Ever felt bombarded by flashy lifestyles everywhere you look? Join us as we explore the layers of Lorde’s hit song, where she pushes back against the culture of extravagance.


“Royals” Lyrics Meaning

Starting with the confession, “I’ve never seen a diamond in the flesh,” Lorde immediately sets the tone. It’s a candid acknowledgment that her reality is different from the glamorized depictions of wealth in media. By cutting her “teeth on wedding rings in the movies,” Lorde is highlighting that many of her perceptions of luxury and relationships come from cinematic depictions, not personal experience.

“And I’m not proud of my address, In a torn up town, no postcode envy” further paints the picture of an ordinary life far from the Hollywood hills. Yet, Lorde finds a sense of pride in her simplicity, distancing herself from the envy that many might feel.

As she takes us through the chorus, “Gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom…We don’t care,” Lorde critiques the shallow displays of wealth popularized in many songs. She establishes that her and her friends’ aspirations are different. They dream in Cadillacs but are grounded in their reality. The refrain, “And we’ll never be royals,” isn’t a lament but a declaration. It’s a choice not to chase after the kind of luxury that “just ain’t for us.” Instead, they “crave a different kind of buzz” – perhaps experiences that are more genuine, more grounded.

“My friends and I, we’ve cracked the code,” signals their realization. They’ve realized they don’t need material wealth to feel significant. As the song progresses, Lorde’s tone becomes more empowered, declaring herself as “queen bee” and finding strength in her unique perspective. By the end, “Life is great without a care,” Lorde and her friends are content, rejecting society’s materialistic standards and embracing their authentic selves.

The Story Behind “Royals”

Lorde, at the young age of 16 when she released “Royals”, aimed to challenge the status quo of pop music, shedding light on the repetitive nature of songs that glorified materialism and superficial lifestyles.

Hailing from New Zealand, a country that’s relatively removed from the epicenter of pop culture in cities like Los Angeles or New York, Lorde was an observer. She often felt bombarded by the Western media’s portrayal of opulence – an unattainable world of private jets, diamond-encrusted accessories, and excessive parties. This perspective played a pivotal role in shaping the lyrics of “Royals.”

It’s fascinating to think of “Royals” as a response to what Lorde consumed in popular culture. She once mentioned in an interview that the song was inspired by photographs of rappers she had seen. Those images, juxtaposed with her own teenage experiences, felt incongruous. The glamorous parties, luxury cars, and designer brands that were often celebrated in the media were a far cry from her own life, and she wanted to voice that disparity.

Moreover, Lorde’s age played a role in her perspective. As a teenager, she was figuring out her place in the world, navigating the challenges of identity and self-worth. “Royals” is as much a commentary on pop culture as it is an anthem for those who feel out of place in it. It’s a testament to the idea that one doesn’t need to fit the mold to find meaning and purpose.