Grammy-Winning "Royals" Owes It All to Nat Geo

Lorde wrote the song after seeing a National Geographic photo of Kansas City Royals player George Brett.

And the Grammy for "best song inspired by a National Geographic photo" goes to ... "Royals," by Lorde.

At last night's awards ceremony, the New Zealand singer-songwriter won the Grammy for song of the year for "Royals." Here's her account of the song's origins, from an interview with VH1: "I had this image from the National Geographic of this dude just signing baseballs. He was a baseball player and his shirt said 'Royals.'" Her song observes, "We'll never be royals ... It don't run in our blood," reflecting on the luxe lives of past kings and queens.

The photo of George Brett was taken by Ted Spiegel and appeared in a July 1976 article about Kansas City. Spiegel, who photographed for the magazine for 25 years, spoke to our reporter Chelsea Huang about his recollection of the image: "What I remember was sheer adulation. There was one girl who worked in the Kansas City Royals office who had what we would now call a large reaction to George Brett. Her eyes melted just gazing at him. He had star power. He was an all-American in image and in bat. All those hands holding the baseballs are adulating fans, and in Lorde's interview, she talked about how the Royals were rock stars in their day."

If Lorde—whose real name is Ella Yelich-O'Connor—seeks more inspiration for future songs, Spiegel invites her to look at his photos in the National Geographic image collection.