Young musicians from my tiny Pacific homeland (population: 4.4 million) have taken over this year.
Lorde’s song “Royals” has ruled the charts all fall, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 in September and hanging out there for 10 weeks. She’s nominated for four Grammy awards and, last month, on her 17th birthday, she signed a $2.5 million American music-publishing deal. Meanwhile, alt-rock singer-songwriter Gin Wigmore’s yet to hit the Billboard charts, but Rolling Stone named her the “breakout star” of this year’s Warped Tour.
The last time we had this much attention was back in 2011, when a seal pup let itself into a Bay of Plenty home and curled up on the owner’s couch. (That was covered by almost every US media outlet, from ABC News to Gawker.)
It’s not just pop music in which Kiwis are stealing the limelight. In October, Matt Lambert was awarded a Michelin star for the New Zealand-inspired cuisine he serves up at his Nolita restaurant, the Musket Room.
That same month, novelist Eleanor Catton, 28, became the youngest-ever recipient of the prestigious Man Booker prize, which bestows £50,000 on the best contemporary fiction produced in the United Kingdom, Ireland or countries of the Commonwealth. (Her check was presented by the Duchess of Cornwall, a k a Camilla Parker Bowles).
The honor puts Catton — whose 832-page mystery, “The Luminaries,” is set in the New Zealand’s west coast gold fields — in the company of Philip Roth and Salman Rushdie.
And Ashleigh Good, a 21-year-old model from Auckland’s North Shore, was last month featured in W Magazine, as well as in Vogue UK and on the cover of Italian Vogue — and she’s the face of Karl Lagerfeld’s 2014 Cruise collection for Chanel.
Not bad for a country that’s slightly smaller than Colorado and whose biggest, most cosmopolitan city, Auckland, has 1.4 million residents — about the same as Phoenix.