Music Video Film School: “Royals” by Lorde

Pretending that money isn’t awesome must be exhausting. You have to go through life seeing people with their gold teeth, and their Grey Goose, and their improperly tiled bathroom floors, and their Cristal, and their Maybach cars, and their watches that sparkle. You have to see their jet planes, and their islands (Their islands. You’re faced with rich people’s islands. You wince every time you see a globe.), and their tigers that they have on a gold leash*** and you have to say to yourself “Well, I’m nice on the inside, and that’s where it counts.”


That’s the unpleasant world created in our Lorde and Savior’s video for “Royals,” which is a song about not caring for other people’s wealth because…I’m not sure? Imagination, maybe? Your dreams have Cadillacs, so when you wake up in the morning with no damn Cadillac, it’s cool. It doesn’t sound like a fair trade, Lorde. Maybe this song shows an emotional detachment from the joy of owning a nice Cadillac, but I can’t wake up from a dream about Frosted Flakes and not be sad that I don’t have Frosted Flakes lying on my night stand. But then again, every time I press backspace, my robot made entirely out of platinum records says “GOOD JOB. YOU ARE A TRUE EDITOR. YOUR SHIPMENT OF TIGERS IS HERE,” so I’m biased.

royals dude in pool

The video does an adequate job of subverting the lyrics to the song pretty well, as life without money, or even an abundance of smiling, seems to be no fun at all. It goes out of its way to show you that, when you’re bored, you’ll do anything to grasp at even the skinniest straws of excitement. This includes shaving your head with a buddy, boxing with a buddy, and going to the pool to just kind of stand there.

It’s not that they’re not “caught up with the love affair” of wealth. It’s that they’re just boring. Not having money looks really dull, if I based my view of being poor entirely on “Royals.” Not having money looks like arranging your furniture in a way so that you can’t see your non-flat screen TV, and being entirely unfamiliar with the typical activities one engages in when they step on a basketball court.

royals guy basketball

Lorde, Old English for “Lord”, doesn’t improve matters much, because she spends most of the video looking at you, and only sometimes sings the words of the song. It’s like she’s asking you “Get it? Get it? I’m a good singer! And this is important!” And she might be, if she didn’t spend the thing waiting for the director to call “Action!” At one point, Lorde seems to be having a good time and waves her hands a bit, but I think I missed something. Was I supposed to be doing something? I’ve seen the same face from my classmates in high school theatre class when I was supposed to be on stage but completely forgot my cue. “AND WE’LL NEVER BE ROYALS!” There, I sang along, Lorde. Happy?



***Do enough rich musicians own tigers that they keep on gold leashes that it’s become a stereotype? I mean, keeping your giant cat on a gold chain must be cool, but I can’t remember the last time a rapper was like “Yeah, I’m from Brooklyn. Nah, don’t mind the tiger. I just have those.”

P.S. This isn’t a normal Music Video Film School. I planned on maybe watching this and trying to turn it into something about the apocalypse, but I couldn’t. I just hate it too much.


For more Music Video Film School, click here.

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