So, what do we think about Lana Del Rey?

Ok folks, here we go: confession time.  I don’t follow what’s new in music as much as I should, and definitely not as much as I did when I was younger.  Part of the reason is that, in my old age, I’ve stopped worrying about what is “cool” and how everything I say I like reflects on how cool I am, and what it projects to everyone else on the entire planet, and what band logos I should write on my notebook to attract that guy in physics class that was really, really cute (isn’t everyone happy to not be in their teens/early 20’s anymore?).

The second (bigger) part is that I don’t listen to much music at all these days.  I’ve been sort of down, and when I get into a funk (a depression to be honest) I cannot tolerate music.  It makes me overly emotional and overly melancholic (and not melancholic in the good way, which despite what I should have learned from “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, I love to feel).  So, when I watched a recent episode of SNL and found myself humming the songs I heard performed on it again and again – then seeking them out to play on my various musical devices, then listening to it at the gym on repeat (I tend to listen exclusively to podcasts when working out), and then actually choosing to walk places instead of riding the bus or biking so that I could have more time to listen to it – I took some notice.  So here it is: I love and am obsessed with Lana Del Rey(‘s music).

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Thats right, folks.  She of the collagen lips and SNL hatred, she that garners the contempt of hipster runoff and a lot of my friends.  She that, eight years ago, I would have listened to in secret, so very ashamed of googling her song lyrics so that I could sing along to every awkwardly phrased line and impossible to hit trill.  (yes, I did that) (to be fair, it was partly fueled by free hair-salon champagne).

But you know what guys?  I don’t care anymore.  I am almost 30 (28 in March, y’all) (oh my goodness I just had to subtract 1984 from 2012 on my calculator to remember how old I am – maybe you shouldn’t listen to anything I have to say) anyway, older, wiser, and I like what I like.  I’m gonna scream “I WILL LOVE YOU ‘TIL THE END OF TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIME” and “You’re so FRESH TO DEATH and sick as CA-CA-CANCER” in the shower, and while I’m cooking, and ….. well, I live in studio flat, so other than those two rooms everything is sort of one big space.  But you know what? I’m singing in there TOO.

Now, if you’re in the even-semi-know you’ve probably heard of Lana Del Rey primarily because of her recent performance on SNL.

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It did not go well for her.

Or at least that is what almost everyone is saying.  God-like taste makers (please note the sarcasm) such as Perez Hilton (“Lana Del Rey was horrible on SNL last night #bomb”) and Eliza Dushku (“Who….is…..this wack-a-doodle chick on SNL…? Wha….?”) joined the twitter barrage that hit.  Even Brian Williams got in on it, saying that “…Lana Del Rey had one of the worst outings in SNL history…” – ouch, Brian, ouch.  Del Rey was booked on SNL having no record contract (at the time) and very little performance experience.  So maybe it showed.  I say maybe not every act that comes on SNL needs to do headstands or, I don’t know…. GIVE FAKE ORGY BIRTH TO A PUDDLE OF GOLD OOZE (yeah, Lady Gaga, take that).  But obviously I’m defensive, you decide:

I honestly do not understand where the outrage and hatred is coming from. Her voice isn’t perfect, but it’s interesting – and I value that so, so, so much more.  We don’t need anymore pitch-performance-perfect American Idol runners up in this world.  Now, some of the answer might come not from the video above, but from Lana Del Rey’s infamous reputation.  There are a million reasons out there to hate her.  (Well at least more than a dozen).  Where to start? Ok, first she’s had a lot of plastic surgery done (I mean, look at her lips people).  Seriously, look:

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“Dude, it’s like wherever you go in the room they follow you.”

Ok, they are pretty bad.  They are big and they are fake, and I constantly wonder why people do this to their mouths.  I don’t think it EVER looks good.  But you know what guys? She is still a damn fine singer through those monsters.  To get an idea of how different she looks in this iteration, here is an older video (although maybe her lips are done here too?) Just did some research and this isn’t her in the video, it’s some French video maker lady.  Sorry – but I’m leaving it in because it is Lana Del Rey’s song, and the guys in the video are super cute.  (I think this song is really fun, by the way).

Of course, a lot of flack that gets sent her way comes from her being an attractive woman.  And she is.  I’m not putting up all these photos of her because they hurt my eyes.  She has a cool, sexy-vibe, image.  Sadly, this often turns to slut-shaming.  I have read SO MANY articles that only talk about how much she “wants it” or is “asking for it” etc, etc, too many sad/disgusting things to list here where I know I get mixed readership. (Hi Mrs. Bollmer! ! I hope you’re still reading my blog, sorry for cursing so much!)  Part of this might also come from her “stand by your man” esque lyrics.  I love her songs, but my three favorites (the singles that have been released: “Video Games” “Born to Die” and “Blue Jeans” are like the same song.  She will love her man no matter what, be by his side even if he stays out all night, does everything she does to make him happy and all that jazz. Not the best message, but the Spice Girls had “girl power” and they sucked.  I mean, everyone is talking about how great Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” is (using her because she performed on SNL right before Del Rey to a very positive response) and I think that the message of that song is horrifying.  Talk about women against women rhetoric and bitchiness.

Beyond her physical “image” is her “image, image”.  Del Rey has a rich, rich daddy (Robert Grant – billionaire domain investor). (or maybe millionaire – I’m not going to do THAT much research for this blog post you guys).  And because she comes from money, she’s had a lot of opportunities that a lot of other musicians have not.  She has a team around her as it were.  They named her (real name Elizabeth? Lizzy? Grant), they told her to be a solo act, they promoted her, they produced her.  You know what they’re not doing? Singing for her.  And you know what I like about her? Her singing.

Basically, (and go ahead and crucify me for this) I don’t care how the sausage gets made.  I like to eat it.  So she isn’t “authentic”, she is a “sell out”; how many bands aren’t? I mean really, when it gets down down down to it – and what do these things really even mean? Is she any less authentic – or is her lack of authenticity just more transparent?  I realize this is problematic, that I’m part of the problem, that I have no soul/conscience.  Sorry.  When it comes to music I look for it to entertain me, for me to enjoy it. Not to make a political statement with.

I don’t really like her as her image – I mean, from the few interviews I’ve seen she seems crazy-shallow-silly, and lame, and completely pulling that starlet baby voice schtick. (I HATE that).  But I’m not judging her for that. Nope. Not me. To the music itself!

She’s being touted as a “ghetto Nancy Sinatra” – and to that I say…. meh?  I think of her as sort of a mix between P.J. Harvey, perhaps some second-rate Antony (from Antony and the Johnsons) (You GUYS! remind me to tell you how I got to see him live in Marina Abramovic’s play one time – he had a pet lobster on a leash, it was mind blowing)  and some Bruce Springsteen.  Born to run turns into born to die by way of Versailles-tinged Tragedy.  (A lot of this comes from her music video below)

I really, really love that song.  The video above also demonstrates her Gaga esque (yeah, now I’m applauding the lady, I can have different levels of opinions, ok?)  talent for choosing really hot male costars.  (how could we forget eyepatched Skarsgard?)

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Her “Born to Die” costar is the lovely Bradley Soileau:

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Heeeelllllooooo Bradley. (Hey Weezy).

He isn’t the model from those Juicy Couture adds is he? That guy was hot too.  Ok, so to recap: I’ve gotten a copy of her album “Born to Die” and love all the singles off of it.  Beyond those there are about three other stand out songs, and the rest make for ace background music to clean/write/sway listlessly to.  Her old album “Lana Del Rey, aka Lizzy Grant” is alright.  Very uneven, sometimes weirdly awesome, sometimes catchy, sometimes embarrassing.  But I’ve been listening to her songs the whole time I’ve been writing this, and my opinions haven’t wavered.  Here is the video for her song “Blue Jeans”

I cannot believe that my longest blog post ever was devoted to this.  I honestly have no clue why I care so much, it is taking even me by surprise.  But I like her music, it is bringing me happiness. What do you guys think?  Am I way off base? Why? Do you secretly or not so secretly love her too? I’d love to know!

P.S – as a self-proclaimed Quiktrip junkie (not kidding, this is always the first place I go once I get off the plane from England) her lyrics about “take me to the gas station” don’t hurt anything.

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~ by gakather on January 26, 2012.

3 Responses to “So, what do we think about Lana Del Rey?”

  1. Totally agree!!! I love her and have made no secret of it. I have found the barrage of abuse directed at her bizarre mostly because people seem angry that she’s turned out to be a pop star and not some ‘genuine’ musician. I too am approaching 30, I used to be quite pretentious about music but I just cant be arsed anymore. If I like what I hear, as long as it aint coming from out of the gob of a despicable dipshit, then Im gonna carry on listening, manufactured pop start or not. My mate posted this on my fb wall not sure if you’ve read it http://www.popjustice.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5983&Itemid=9&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  2. As you may know, I–self proclaimed pop culture junkie–have a time bubble around my exposure, so I am always way late to the game. That said, I hadn’t heard of her until I read your post. I agree that her voice is interesting, and the music is catchy.

    The part of your post that interested me the most is the music-as-entertainment thing. I think that music can/does/will always be part of the cultural landscape, so I can’t give it a free pass as being pure entertainment.

    That said, I own and occasionally listen to a Dr. Dre album. It is full of misogynistic lyrics, and I certainly don’t appreciate Dre’s misogynistic/violent image. I have found a paradoxical spot where I can be critical of that and aware of my criticism while still being entertained by some of the songs.

    Is that wrong?

    I think it’s interesting that you have so much to say about this and can’t quite articulate why it matters so much. Just like writing the band name on your notebook in physics (which–if I’m thinking of the right cute guy–didn’t work, right?), we feel like our entertainment selections are a reflection of self, an often very controlled and conscious reflection of self.

    But our selves are complex, and if a selection surprises other people–or even surprises ourselves–I think it’s usually just a reflection of that complexity.

  3. – I think I did quickly overlook the importance that music can have on culture and society – but I think that since my own ties with music (seriously not being able to listen to it at times of real mental health issues) are so personal that I did revert back to highschool Katherine – it’s just as important just for very different reasons (sort of just turned in on myself) so I completely agree with you – you put the inability to articulate it better than I could have

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