Lorde was Elle's cover girl in June
Lorde was Elle's cover girl in June

Is Lorde The Great White Way For Music's Women Stars?

Rebellion has a funny way of landing artists in the circles they set out to escape.

It’s difficult to say whether Lorde initiated a sea change or merely foresaw one, but the pop scene—particularly for women—has altered radically since Pure Heroine was released. It is almost unrecognizable from the sugary-sweet, overtly sexual realm of the early aughts.

Most notably, white women are grappling with the dominance of hip-hop and electronic dance music.

Lady Gaga has largely abandoned her outlandish costumes and club-ready dance hits for nostalgia and schmaltz.

Miley Cyrus has shed the lascivious, hip-hop-loving character she played on her album Bangerz, from 2013, transforming into a soft and mellow pop-country singer concerned more with dipping her toes in the sand than with popping bottles.

Katy Perry continues to make party music, but in her latest turn she has tried, fitfully, to inject her image with political awareness.

Taylor Swift, who successfully managed to graduate from country songstress to mainstream icon—and the most popular woman in the world—now stares down into the ravine of cultural irrelevance, after bumping up against the limits of her musical potential. When it was rumored that her next album would venture into hip-hop and R&B, the Internet emitted a collective groan.

The female stars who have gained traction are those who have innovated, often by sharpening their edges.

Lana Del Rey, once perceived as a music-industry hallucination—a mystery figure who emerged from the ether and muddied the line between prefab and authentic—has stuck around, penetrating the mainstream with her blend of downcast, narcotized pop and old-Hollywood glamour laced with tragedy.

Selena Gomez has transcended her Disney origins, embracing her demons in a series of brooding and smart, spacious-sounding collaborations with electronic djs, along with a single that samples Talking Heads — Carrie Battan, The New Yorker

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