In a year filled with students speaking out on a wide range of issues, Pope Francis and Lorde took unexpected stands on issues that mattered to them, challenging the beliefs of many in their respective communities and bringing new schools of thought into established paradigms. As we look back and celebrate their contributions to society and culture over the past year, we look ahead with excitement and anticipation to see how their work will continue to ripple a wave of positive change in the years to come.
Pope Francis: mtvU Man of the Year
Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio to Italian parents in Buenos Aires, assumed the leadership role of the Catholic Church in March 2013, while focusing on breaking down bureaucracy and making the church more inclusive and community focused. Months into his papacy, he surprised many by declaring that he would not judge a person for their sexual orientation, taking a bold stance on homosexuality that diverged from that of his predecessor. Continuing in his quest to unite rather than divide the Church, Pope Francis gave a high profile interview that appeared in Jesuit publications around the world in September, preaching love, acceptance and humility over dogma.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” said Pope Francis in the interview. “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
Instead, Pope Francis, who took his name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi to demonstrate his concern for the well-being of the poor, has used his power to focus the Catholic Church on fighting poverty, luxury and vanity. His own humility and outspokenness in the name of acceptance has brought a new, unexpected voice to the Vatican in 2013.
Lorde: mtvU Woman of the Year
Seventeen year-old, New Zealand native Lorde went from an everyday teenager to an international superstar when her record breaking single “Royals” exploded in 2013. Lorde, an MTV Artist to Watch for 2013, used her music to challenge her peers to think about what really matters, beyond money, cars and clothes. In the blink of an eye, she grabbed the record for most weeks atop the Billboard Alternative chart by a female solo artist and became the youngest solo artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 in 25 years. Lorde held the pole position on the Hot 100 for nine weeks, becoming just the fifth female to do so in her first appearance as a lead act in the chart’s history.
Perhaps most impressive is Lorde’s path to success and stardom in 2013. Coming out of nowhere, the young singer songwriter enlisted the help of just one producer for her album, during an era of pop music in which the biggest stars work with a wide range of collaborators and writers. She wrote her massive hit “Royals” in under an hour and took the bold step of releasing her first EP for free through platforms such as SoundCloud. “Royals” has not only been a hit on the charts, but also online, as its video has been viewed more than 100 million times on YouTube and the single has recorded more than 100 million plays on Spotify. Yet, Lorde still maintains an aura of mystery, keeping public appearances and performances to a minimum in the midst of stardom. It’s no wonder that an effusive Billboard cover story proclaimed Lorde “the most sought-after new artist of the year.”