With the aptly-titled “Royals,” Lorde becomes the first lead solo female to crown Billboard’s Nielsen BDS-based Alternative Songs chart in more than 17 years.
No female soloist, in fact, had led the list as a lead artist in Lorde’s lifetime until this week. Tracy Bonham was the last to do so when “Mother Mother,” her first chart entry (as “Royals” is for Lorde), reigned the weeks of June 8, 15 and 22, 1996.
Lorde was born on Nov. 7, 1996.
Not only does “Royals” end an almost two-decade drought for lead solo women atop Alternative Songs, the song is one of just 10 No. 1s by the fairer sex in the chart’s nearly 25-year history. Of 309 overall No. 1s, here are the only leaders by solo females with lead billing:
Title, Artist, Chart Date Reached No. 1
“Royals,” Lorde, Aug. 24, 2013
“Mother Mother,” Tracy Bonham, June 8, 1996
“Ironic,” Alanis Morissette, March 16, 1996
“Hand in My Pocket,” Alanis Morissette, Oct. 14, 1995
“You Oughta Know,” Alanis Morissette, July 22, 1995
“God,” Tori Amos, March 19, 1994
“Blood Makes Noise,” Suzanne Vega, Oct. 10, 1992
“The Emperor’s New Clothes,” Sinead O’Connor, May 12, 1990
“Nothing Compares 2 U,” Sinead O’Connor, March 31, 1990
“Love and Anger,” Kate Bush, Dec. 9, 1989
(Women’s voices haven’t been entirely absent from the chart’s upper ranks over the last 17 years. Female-fronted groups like Evanescence (led by Amy Lee), Florence + the Machine (Florence Welch) and Paramore (Hayley Williams) have logged top 10s. Female soloists have also appeared as featured acts on such hits as fun.’s “We Are Young” (Janelle Monae) and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” (Kimbra), while bands like Of Monsters and Men have mixed male and female vocals on their top 10s.)
“Not since we launched Gotye have we seen such instant reaction,” Republic senior VP of rock promotion Dennis Blair recently told Billboard of Lorde (nee Ella Yelich-O’Connor). Lorde’s EP “The Love Club” has spent the last two weeks at its No. 49 highpoint so far on the Billboard 200, having sold 51,000 copies in the U.S. to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Her full-length debut album, “Pure Heroine,” is expected on Sept. 30 in the U.S.
“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,” adds Michael Martin, PD of alternative KITS San Francisco.
“We’re riding that wave with our audience.”