New Zealand pop star Lorde owes a lot to David Bowie, as has been made clear at many points across her career. In the years since Bowie’s death in 2016, it has been made clear that the two understood each other deeply, with both being great fans of each other’s work.
Notably, when Lorde was just 19 with only one album to her name, she led the tribute to Bowie at the BRIT Awards in 2016. Many doubted her, particularly after Lady Gaga’s botched Bowie medley at that year’s Grammys, but she proved everybody wrong.
Fronting a band that featured Bowie associates such as keyboardist Mike Garson, she raised the roof at London’s O2 Arena with a celestial rendition of the ‘Life on Mars’. The show was so magnificent that Bowie’s son, the director Duncan Jones tweeted in the immediate aftermath, “Just … beautiful. Thank you”.
In the period following that monumental BRIT Awards ceremony, it emerged that the organisers had been liaising with Bowie’s family when planning the tribute; it was they who suggested that Lorde was the ideal artist. Unlike the Grammys, who opted for one of the biggest A-listers on the planet with no real connection to Bowie, his family and the BRITs went with what they thought he would want, enlisting Lorde, as he believed her to be “the future of music”.
After their performance, Garson told his fans on Periscope, “David really liked Lorde, and he felt like she was the future of music, and they had a few wonderful moments together”.
He continued, “She was the perfect choice. Some of David’s family members and David’s management had some suggestions she’d be the right one. They wanted to bring the next generation in”.
To know how Bowie thought of her was life-changing for Lorde. Like all of us, when she heard that he had passed away in January 2016, she was distraught. She posted a heartfelt Facebook post in tribute to her idol and looked back on the day they first met, which she regards as a turning point in her career.
She was only 17 at the time, and it was at a Vogue benefit show, where she performed three songs to an incredibly glamorous audience. Ramping up the stakes, the notorious publication editor, Anna Wintour, approached her after the show, telling her that David Bowie wanted to meet her. Understandably, Lorde looks back on this as the moment where she truly arrived as an artist.
“I’ll never forget the caressing of our hands as we spoke, or the light in his eyes. That night something changed in me — I felt a calmness grow, a sureness,” she recalled. “I think in those brief moments, he heralded me into my next new life, an old rock and roll alien angel in a perfect grey suit. I realised everything I’d ever done, or would do from then on, would be done like maybe he was watching.”
Elsewhere in the post, Lorde explained that afterwards, her confidence increased exponentially and that she became proud of her quirks, which she described as her “spiky strangeness”, thanks to the influence of Davie Bowie.
Duly, because of that life-changing moment at the Vogue benefit, when speaking to i-D, Lorde chose David Bowie’s 1980 classic ‘Fashion’ from Scary Monsters and Super Creeps as her favourite ever song by the Brixton native, and we can’t say we’re surprised. If there’s anything that links the kindred spirits of David Bowie and Lorde after music, it’s colourful fashion.
Listen to ‘Fashion’ below.