The current number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 belongs to 16 year-old alternative artist Lorde who hails from New Zealand. Her song, “Royals,” can be heard on pretty much every top 40-radio station every hour on the hour. There has been some recent controversy about this song as some people are suggesting that it’s racist.
Veronica Bayetti Flores, of Feministing.org said, “While I love a good critique of wealth accumulation and inequity, this song is not one; in fact, it is deeply racist. Because we all know who she’s thinking when we’re talking gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs. So why s**t on black folks? Why s**t on rappers? Why aren’t we critiquing wealth by taking hits at golf or polo or Central Park East? Why not take to task the bankers and old-money folks who actually have a hand in perpetuating and increasing wealth inequality? I’m gonna take a guess: racism.”
Complex Magazine writer Foster Kamer said that “Royals” is not racist but actually a stand against classism. I agree with this sentiment instead of the former. The specific lines that are in question are:
But every song’s like gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom/ Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room /We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams/ But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash /We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair
Lorde is saying that most of the songs on the radio talk about having lots of money, drinking expensive alcohol and driving expensive cars; most people listening to these songs don’t have any of that. People still listen to these songs because they like them, but they can’t relate to the artist’s lifestyle. “Royals” on the other hand says just this. Lorde is also saying that the middle class most likely won’t be up to this status and that’s OK.
Although Flores is trying to take a stand against racism she is actually coming off as racist herself. When society talks about gold teeth and flashy jewelry, why does it automatically have to be associated with black people? Black people are not the only race who purchase those sorts of things. Other races purchase these luxuries and love them just as much as black people do.
Flores is stereotyping black people while trying to make a point against racism.
Lorde has made a song that can be classified as the unofficial 2013 anthem of the middle class. She isn’t trying to offend anyone of any race; she’s just trying to make good music. She’s singing about the images that she’s exposed to on a daily basis and how she feels about them. Lorde is putting the wealth gap between music artists and their fans on display, and I applaud her for it.