Pure Heroine

Music review by
Angela Zimmerman, Common Sense Media
Pure Heroine Music Poster Image
Popular with kids
Rising pop star's debut is edgy but smart and captivating.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

At a time when so many female pop stars are reliant on sex, theatrics, and controversy to gain an audience -- or at least attention -- Pure Heroine has a smart, refreshing sound and message. Through a wise and wary filter and with a maturity that belies her youth, Lorde sings cynically about the fleeting rewards of fame and wealth. She also offers up a hefty dose of material about adolescent angst and teen trivialities, making Pure Heroine an album kids and teens everywhere can actually relate to.

Positive Role Models & Representations

As a reluctant teen pop star, Lorde is a welcome change of pace from many of the other young female artists topping the charts today, not only because she's carving out a singular sound and image for herself but also because of the messages she conveys through her songs. Through cynical, contemplative lyrics about the detrimental trappings of fame and cathartic musings about adolescence, Lorde conveys a world-wise but relatable view few rising stars her age (or any age) share. Ultimately, it's a view that listeners everywhere can get behind.


There are a few mildly violent lyrics. In "Buzzcut Season," the lyric "explosions on TV, and all the girls with heads inside a dream" is about blissful ignorance in the face of violence and war around the world. "Glory and Gore" has battle themes, with gladiator references and lyrics like "took a shiner from the fist of your best friend" and "now we're in the ring, and we're coming for blood." In "White Teeth Teens," a song about cliques and feeling socially inadequate, Lorde sings, "We'll help tonight to split its seams / give the bruises out like gifts."


Other than a few mild, ambiguous lyrics in "400 Lux" about staying up all night with a friend or a crush, which include "I'm glad we stopped kissing the tar on the highway (and I like you)," Pure Heroine is totally tame.


"Tennis Courts" has one use of "f--k" in the lyric, "How can I f--k with the fun again, when I'm known?" And "Still Sane" has two uses of "s--t" with the lyrics, "all work and no play / keeps me on the new s--t" and "lonely on that new s--t."


Lyrics abound about money and fame, but they're used in the context of Lorde rejecting those symbols of wealth. "Team" is a satire about fame and the rifts it creates among social classes, as Lorde criticizes a life of indulgence and the jewels, palaces, money, and trivialities that come with it. Hit song "Royals" is an overt rejection of money and fame, with brands like Grey Goose, Cristal, Cadillac, and Maybach name-dropped throughout. In "Tennis Courts" Lorde admits that, despite all her criticisms about money and fame, she likes "things" but acknowledges how fleeting they are, with lyrics like "getting pumped up from the bright things I bought / but I know they'll never own me."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are a few references to drinking and smoking, but they're used more as cultural touchstones than glorified party references. In addition to the "Cristal" and "Grey Goose" referenced in "Royals," the song "Ribs" begins with the line, "The drink you spilt all over me." "Glory and Gore" includes the lyric, "You've been drinking like the world was gonna end (it didn't)," and "400 Lux" implies drinking in the lyric, "We're hollow like the bottles that we drain."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pure Heroine is the debut album by New Zealand pop star Lorde (born Ella Yelich-O'Connor), a teen sensation whose single "Royals" shot up the charts. The lyrical matter on Pure Heroine centers on Lorde's rejection of fame and luxury as well as on adolescence; subjects include social anxieties and resentments, cliques, Internet gossip, boredom, and friendships -- themes many teens can relate to. There are several instances of strong language, including "f--k" and "s--t," as well as mild references to drinking and partying and a few lyrics alluding to scrappy teen violence (for instance, the song "Glory and Gore" includes lyrics like "took a shiner from the fist of your best friend" and "now we're in the ring, and we're coming for blood"). But none of the edgier lyrical content is heavy-handed, and parents could use these songs to spark conversation about some of the challenges teens face in today's world as well as explore ways music and art can serve as a cathartic release.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byhalu October 27, 2013


Despite the few strong languages occasions, this album is better than almost anything on the pop charts, both in terms of musically and morality. Keep the kids... Continue reading
Parent of a 10 and 13-year-old Written bywestcombe July 1, 2014
Kid, 11 years old March 16, 2016

Pure Heroine

Let's just start off by saying that this artful masterpiece of music should really earn a Grammy now or then. Nice, catchy electropop and smooth beats that... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old November 16, 2013

catchy, and positive

A few bad words but overall an excellent pop albulm with positive lerics.

What's the story?

PURE HEROINE is the full-length debut by 16-year-old rising New Zealand pop star Lorde. "Royals," the first single from the record, quickly rose to the top of the charts and was a solid introduction to themes Lorde continues to explore throughout the record: criticisms of fame and wary rejections of glamor and wealth. But Pure Heroine isn't just a dismissal of the posh life. Lorde also sings frankly about the anxieties of adolescence and all the social challenges, worries, and fleeting carefree days that define those formative years. Ultimately, Pure Heroine is a collection of songs that sees Lorde bidding farewell to a personal past while facing down the prospects of a reluctant fame-filled future.

Is it any good?

The debut record of teen sensation Lorde is making commercial and critical waves across the globe. The smart and cynical lyrical matter Lorde displays on this album belies her age, and her impressive musical vision makes for a seamless, captivating listen from start to finish. It's rare to see such raw musical talent and wisdom in emerging teen pop stars, and with Pure Heroine Lorde has secured her immediate fate as a rising talent and one to be watched. Whether or not she'll reject the fame and attention that she's set to receive is yet to be seen.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes Lorde different from other teen pop stars, like Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez. How does she use music to create a public image?

  • Try deconstructing some of the social situations Lorde writes about, like cliques and teen idealism. What can you relate to? How have you used art or creation in your life to diffuse a situation or make sense of the world around you?

  • Lorde has said that Pure Heroine was made as a cohesive body of work. How does this inform your listening of the album in its entirety? What are some of the ways she makes the music and story flow together?

Music details

  • Artist: Lorde
  • Release date: September 30, 2013
  • Type: Album
  • Label: Universal
  • Genre: Pop
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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