Tell Me Who's Bad

Hip-pop "Royals" Lorde and Iggy do battle Down Under

No, Iggy Azalea. YOU'RE out of line.
No, Iggy Azalea. YOU'RE out of line.

Last week, hip-pop bad girl Iggy Azalea told Billboard that Lorde’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame performance with Nirvana was “inappropriate.” Azalea added that one of Kurt Cobain’s peers should have taken the mic for “All Apologies” instead of the Kiwi singer. The position made me laugh at the text posting on my cell phone.

Annoyance seems like a natural reaction to the 17-year-old pop sorceress sitting in with Nirvana – especially to Nineties kids who grew up head banging to In Utero in smoke filled closets. Iggy, whose new hit “Fancy” I adore, was articulating a sentiment likely shared by a decent proportion of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame audience, but I don’t buy it.

There’s a long history of an artist’s peers handling induction speeches at this event, like when Paul McCartney inducted John Lennon back in 1994. But last time I checked Melissa Etheridge wasn’t swigging Southern Comfort with Janis Joplin in the late Sixties, and she belted “Piece of My Heart” with fire at the celebrations in 1995. Etheridge also did a tribute to the late, great Dusty Springfield in 1999.

After examining a recording of the performance, I considered Azalea’s knee-jerk reaction even more off-base. Entering the stage dressed in a pink pant suit alongside Dave Grohl, Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, and Joan Jett, the teenage pop star looked suitably nervous. The performance itself proved a tender rendition of the beloved Nirvana jam, with Novoselic holding it down on the accordion. Lorde executed a mild version of her usual onstage writhing, then looked sheepish before a hug from Grohl.

I’d never compare Lorde to the grunge godfathers’ musical offerings, but the teenager taps into a similar feeling – albeit to a more screechy audience. With her legitimate hip-hop interest and keen subject matter, Lorde appeals to a more cerebral pop audience, making her a natural choice to bridge the gap between rock and pop circles. Azalea probably meant well, but her diss was more of a reaction to the surge of fame she experienced after singles “Fancy” and “Problem” exploded on the charts.

Either that, or the answer she gave was blown out of proportion. As Tupac said: “The media’s full of dirty tricks.”

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