Weekly Chart Notes: Lorde's 'Royals' Roars Onto Alternative Radio

The New Zealand singer/songwriter, just 16, makes the best start on Alternative Songs for a female soloist charting her debut hit in five years

With the aptly-titled single "Royals," Lorde could be on her way to fitting chart domination.

The 16-year-old New Zealander sends her introductory track onto Alternative Songs at No. 30. The debut is the highest for a solo female making her first visit to the airplay chart as a lead artist since M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" (No. 28) nearly five years ago.

It also places her in lofty company with other women who've launched in the chart's top 30 on their first tries, as the four to do so prior to M.I.A. enjoyed notable crossover success (as did M.I.A., whose "Planes" soared to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 10 on Pop Songs). Natalie Imbruglia arrived with "Torn" (No. 29) in 1998, an eventual 11-week No. 1 on the all-format Radio Songs chart; Meredith Brooks bowed with "Bitch" (No. 28) in 1997, a No. 2 Hot 100 hit; and, in the same week (June 17, 1995), Alanis Morissette bounded in with her signature song "You Oughta Know" (No. 26), while Natalie Merchant began with "Carnival" (No. 28), her first solo single, and a No. 10 Hot 100 hit, after leaving 10,000 Maniacs.

As Lorde begins leaping up Billboard charts – the song jumps 38-23 in its second week on Hot Rock Songs and 28-22 on the adult alternative Triple A chart, while her debut EP "The Love Club" enters the Billboard 200 at No. 191 – her label, Republic Records, is excited about her prospects.

"Not since we launched Gotye ('Somebody That I Used to Know,' the Hot 100's top song of 2012) have we seen such instant reaction, all being driven so far by radio," says Dennis Blair, Republic senior VP of rock promotion.

Radio, indeed, believes that "Royals," with its pure vocals and underdog-themed lyrics, is just beginning its run.

"'Royals' was a one-listen song for me," says Shark, program director of WSUN Tampa, Fla., which played the track 24 times in the past week, according to Nielsen BDS. "It's very, very cool.  Most music sung by 16-year-olds is pre-fab, over-produced, Disney Channel-pop. There's an edginess and authenticity to 'Royals' that makes it really stand out.

"The song has been top 10 in our app-based voting since we started playing it and its sales in Tampa are up 160%. It's catching quick."

Triple A KTCZ Minneapolis PD Lauren MacLeash says that "Royals" took a little bit longer to sink in for her: two listens. "The first time I heard it I was like, 'Wow, this is different.' The second time, I got lost in it. It's rare for lyrics to be the first thing to pull you in, but they did for me. Usually, it's a song's rhythm.

"I put 'Royals' on-air and it got immediate social reaction, all positive," MacLeash notes. With KTCZ leading all stations in plays for the song last week (56), she predicts that "this one is going to spread like wildfire across radio. I want us to be known for it before everyone else jumps in."

Michael Martin, PD of alternative KITS San Francisco, which played the song 22 times last week, added 'Royals' once he noticed its buzz building. "Our music director, Aaron Axelsen, brought it to me just as something to check out. It wasn't at the top of our list of must-play-now tunes. But, when I saw the video, listened to the lyrics and saw the sheer number of hits and fan remakes online … you can see there's a wave, a big wave.

"We're riding that wave with our audience. Isn't that what we're supposed to do?"

Republic expects Lorde's debut full-length album, accompanied by tour dates, in the fall.

NEXT: Maroon 5 makes history on Adult Pop Songs

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