In mid-2013, Lorde released her debut single "Royals". It became an international crossover hit and made Lorde the youngest solo artist to achieve a US number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1987. Later that year, she released her debut studio album, Pure Heroine. The record topped the charts of Australia and New Zealand and reached number three on the US Billboard 200. Its following singles include "Tennis Court", "Team", "No Better" and "Glory and Gore". In 2014, Lorde released "Yellow Flicker Beat" as a single from the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.
Lorde's music consists of the subgenres of electronica, pop and rock, including dream pop and indie-electro. In 2013, she was named among Time 's most influential teenagers in the world, and in the following year, she was in the Forbes 's "30 Under 30" list.
Ella Yelich-O'Connor was born in Takapuna to civil engineer Vic O'Connor and poet Sonja Yelich on 7 November 1996. She was raised in the nearby suburb of Devonport with two sisters (Jerry and India Yelich-O'Connor) and a brother (Angelo Yelich-O'Connor). She has Croatian and Irish ancestry. At age five, she joined a drama group and developed public speaking skills. In her primary years, Lorde attended Vauxhall School and later Belmont Intermediate School. Her mother encouraged her to read a range of books, which Lorde cited as a lyrical influence, "I guess my mum influenced my lyrical style by always buying me books. She'd give me a mixture of kid and adult books too, there weren't really any books I wasn't allowed to read. I remember reading Feed by M.T. Anderson when I was six, and her giving me Salinger and Carver at a young age, and Janet Frame really young too."
In May 2009, Lorde and musician friend Louis McDonald won the Belmont Intermediate School annual talent show as a duo. On 13 August 2009, Lorde and McDonald were invited in for a chat on Jim Mora's Afternoons show on Radio New Zealand. There, they performed covers of Pixie Lott's "Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh)" and Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody". McDonald's father Ian sent out his home audio recording of her and Louis McDonald covering Duffy's song "Warwick Avenue", and his home video recording of Lorde and Louis McDonald singing Pixie Lott's "Mama Do", to Universal Music Group (UMG)'s A&R Scott Maclachlan.In 2009 Maclachlan signed her to UMG for development.Lorde was also part of the Belmont Intermediate School band Extreme; the band placed third in the North Shore Battle of the Bands finals at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland on 18 November 2009.
In 2010 Lorde and McDonald performed covers live on a regular basis as a duet called "Ella & Louis", playing at The Leigh Sawmill Cafe on 15 August, at Roasted Addiqtion Cafe in Kingsland on 20 August, at The Vic Unplugged at Victoria Theatre, Devonport on 27 October, and at Devonstock in Devonport on 12 December. While working on her music career, she attended Takapuna Grammar School from 2010 to 2013, completing Year Twelve. She later chose not to return in 2014 to finish Year Thirteen.
In 2011, UMG hired vocal coach Frances Dickinson to give Lorde singing lessons twice a week for a year.During this time, she began writing songs and was set up with a succession of songwriters, but without success. At the age of fourteen, Lorde started reading short fiction and learned how to "put words together." She performed her own original songs publicly for the first time at The Vic Unplugged II on the Devonport Victoria Theatre main stage on 16 November 2011.In December 2011, MacLachlan paired Lorde with Joel Little, a songwriter, record producer, and former Goodnight Nurse lead singer. The pair recorded five songs for an EP at Little's Golden Age Studios in Morningside, Auckland, and finished within three weeks.
In November 2012, Lorde self-released the record, entitled The Love Club EP, through her SoundCloud account for free download. After being freely downloaded 60,000 times, UMG decided to commercially release the EP for sales in March 2013. The EP peaked at number two on the record charts of New Zealand and Australia. In June of that year, "Royals" was released as a single from the EP. The single became a crossover hit, peaking atop the US Billboard Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks. Consequently, Lorde became the youngest solo artist to achieve a number-one single in the US with "Royals", since Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now" (1987). The track eventually won the 2013 APRA Silver Scroll Award, and two Grammy Awards for Best Pop Solo Performance and Song of the Year at the 2014 Grammy Awards.
In September 2013, Lorde released her debut studio album, Pure Heroine. The album topped the charts of New Zealand and Australia and reached the top five of several national charts, including Canada, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom. In the U.S., Pure Heroine peaked at number three on the Billboard 200, and had sold 1.33 million copies by 2014. Worldwide, Pure Heroine had sold 1.5 million copies by the end of 2013. The album was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.
The release of Pure Heroine was preceded by four singles: "Tennis Court" was released in June 2013, topping the New Zealand Singles Chart; the third single, "Team", became a top-ten hit worldwide; and "No Better", a song only included on the extended version of Pure Heroine, and "Glory and Gore" were released as the two final singles from the record, respectively. In September 2013, Lorde's cover version of the Tears for Fears' single, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", produced by Michael A. Levine and Lucas Cantor, was included on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire film soundtrack.
In November 2013, Lorde signed a publishing deal with Songs Music Publishing, worth a reported US$2.5 million, after a bidding war between various companies, including Sony Music Entertainment and her label UMG. The agreement gives the publisher the right to license Lorde's music for films and advertising. Late that year, she also started a relationship with photographer James Lowe.
In December 2013, Lorde announced that she had begun writing material for her second studio album.In June 2014, Lorde said that her second studio album was in its early stages and that, so far, it was "totally different" from her debut album.In the first half of 2014, Lorde headlined various festivals, including the Laneway Festival in Sydney, Australia, the three South American editions of Lollapalooza—Chile, Santiago; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and São Paulo, Brazil— and the Coachella Festival in California.
To promote The Love Club EP and Pure Heroine, Lorde embarked on an international tour, the first leg of which was held in North America in early 2014. She later announced the Australian leg, held in July,and the second North American leg, held in August. In April of that year, Lorde performed "All Apologies" with the surviving members of Nirvana during the band's induction ceremony at the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.
On 1 August 2014, Lorde performed at Lollapalooza again in Grant Park, Chicago. Lorde's set was critically well received, with Billboard selecting it as the fifth-best performance of the festival, while Rolling Stone deemed it the best segment of the Chicago event.
On 29 September 2014, Lorde released "Yellow Flicker Beat" as the first single from the soundtrack album for the film The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1; Lorde oversaw the collation of the album's content, in addition to contributing vocals to several songs. By her 18th birthday in November 2014, it was estimated that Lorde was worth NZ$11 million.