The ‘dude signing baseballs’ who inspired an international pop hit? NEJC’s own Royalty, George Brett

The National Geographic song that launched an international hit.
The National Geographic photo that launched an international hit.

Perhaps by now you are aware that the latest piece of global pop culture earwormishness is a li’l something called “Royals” by New Zealand teen sensation Lorde.

But perhaps you are unaware — as we certainly were given the song’s lyrics about, you know, the lives of actual royalty — that the inspiration came not from Buckingham Palace, but from One Royal Way right here in Kansas City. More specifically, it came from a picture of Mission Hills resident and all-around general good-guy George Brett (who lent his voice to last week’s SM East football motivational video).

As Lorde explained to the VH1, a chance encounter with an old National Geographic photo got her creative gears in motion:

“I had this image from the National Geographic of this dude just signing baseballs,” Lorde told us when we sat down with her recently. “He was a baseball player and his shirt said, ‘Royals.’” Lorde was so taken by the image and the word that she penned the song around that idea. ”It was just that word. It’s really cool.”

That “dude just signing baseballs” happens to be a northeast Johnson County fixture. You’re welcome, world, for this: