• Fri, Jan 13 2012

Some Things You Should Know About Lana Del Rey Before She Plays SNL

So there’s this singer-songwriter called Lana Del Rey. If you don’t know who she is yet, you’re surely about to, as she’s slated to appear on Live With David Letterman, Ellen, and (this coming weekend) Saturday Night Live with host Daniel Radcliffe. Who is this pouty lite radio chanteuse and from whence did she spring? Here are some things you should know about her.

1.) There have been a lot of Internet fights about her.

This is no accident, as her image seems to have been constructed with “making people angry” as at least a secondary concern. This tactic has become such an easy route to fame that it’s common enough to have a name now: trollgaze. The fact that she is trying to brand (or rather, re-brand, as she used to look quite different and go by her real name, Lizzy Grant) herself as some sort of “Lolita in the hood” (her words, not mine), thereby perpetuating the idea that a book about a child rapist is sexy, the borderline offensive references to the ghetto when she’s the daughter of a wealthy Internet domain guy and went to prep school in Connecticut, the way she’s being branded as an “indie” artist when she was never a part of any D.I.Y. scene, her obvious and distracting surgical augmentation, the fact that she insists on lying about said surgical augmentation, etc.

Also, some feminists dislike the fact that she sings about waiting around for boys to notice her, turn into men, fulfill her fantasies, etc., saying she displays a stunning lack of agency. Others take her interest in fallen beauty queens as a subtle critique of our trashy, myopically nostalgic, hollow, celebrity-worshiping culture. Rocker Amy Klein wrote a pretty good analysis in her blog.

2.) Not a lot of these fights have a lot to do with her music.

The funny thing about Lana Del Rey, as with many pop stars these days, is that while her image is rich and interesting and contains a lot to analyze and argue about, the music itself is almost aggressively boring, like it was tailor made to score a particularly poignant scene in Gossip Girl (and indeed, it has). Personally, I try to judge people on the quality of the music they make, and the most I could muster when I first heard it was a “meh,” so I ignored both Lana Del Rey and her backlash. But as time wore on, I began to get annoyed by the gap between her image and her sound, and started to understand a little bit better why people hate her. I am annoyed by her for a lot of the same reasons I’m annoyed by Lady Gaga. You cannot make boring, formulaic pop music and a.) talk about yourself like you’re an innovative musical genius, and b.) save all of the interesting stuff for your image. That might be okay with people who don’t like music, but I think it sucks. At least Lady Gaga’s unearned persona is empowering.

3.) She is a currently a high priority for her label.

Music money doesn’t grow on trees these days, even for Interscope, the major label that signed her. The fact that they shelled out for a high quality video for “Born To Die” (with tigers and everything!) and have been pushing aggressively to get her on TV mean they really, really, really want to make her a star.

4.) It’s probably going to work.

Like it or not, the trollgaze approach is effective; Lana Del Rey became a viral sensation long before releasing a full-length album, and now she has a national audience. Her music is now primed to reach the millions of people who don’t read music blogs but do like boring, repetitive songs, and they are going to buy her album on iTunes because they don’t know how to use bit torrents. The fact that it was largely hatred that got her there matters little to them, or to her bank account. Even Lana herself acknowledges that while she doesn’t love being shit talked, it’s a decent trade off.

5.) She inspires people to say incredibly stupid things about her.

Lana Del Rey seems like an evil genius compared to the people who slobber all over her, and maybe she is. Here is a phrase from her press release: “armed with the mystique of Dusty Springfield, the girl-next-door charm of Duffy, and the defiant charisma of Britney Spears…” False! But I guess “armed with the voice of a poor man’s Fiona Apple, the rock aggression of Coldplay, and did we mention she’s really fucking hot?” can’t really go in a press release.

A much worse offender is this V Magazine profile, which contains such choice nuggets as “Outside of the obvious physical evidence, she’d said several things in the preceding interview that convinced me of her specialness” and “Palpably, everyone noticed her.” Are the baby talk coos she throws into her vocals a secret incantation to drain I.Q. points from those around her? People who dislike her say stupid things about her, too.

I don’t want to come off like a total hater here, because I do think she’s got more going on upstairs than a lot of people give her credit for, and I also don’t think she’s entirely uncritical of the misogynistic ideas she engages with. I still hold that you should judge a musician based on their music, so if you like what you hear on SNL, you should totally buy her album. It will probably be better than a Katy Perry album! And, as a 26-year-old woman who likes posing for pictures, I remember from my not-so-distant past what it’s like to try too hard to be sexy, so I’m not going to judge her too much for that. I guess the main thing that bothers me about Lana Del Rey is not Lana Del Rey herself, but the endless amounts of attention and money being devoted to her that could be going to more talented, but less pouty and viral, people. This is not Lana Del Rey’s fault, but I still reserve the right to be angry about it.

UPDATE: Did Lana Del Rey Tank On Saturday Night Live?

Share This Post:
  • Sunny

    I think the exact opposite than the author of this crap wrote but then again I’m not a jaded shriveled up nasty prude of a bitch either and I can almost 100% guarantee Jamie Peck is without ever having seen her. Maybe she should be more objective when analyzing new talent and give girls a chance even if they happen to have incredible beauty and creative expression.

  • Matt

    Can we stick to her music & voice? A musical artist sets out to create an image for themselves? Stop the presses.

  • Mallory

    Couldn’t put my finger on why I hated her so much… So, thank you.

  • T

    She writes her own songs. Read the lyrics, listen to them. They’re great, they’re not generic. She even makes some of her music videos herself. So what if her dad is rich? She created her image, and I like her image.

  • CarrieH

    LIZZYS DAD IS NOT RICH! He worked in estate business and She was sent to a school in connecticut due to her drinking problems! She is intrigued by 50′s old school and she decided to create a new self as you may call it, whatever. But she was definately in the mood and brooklyn n,y before she was famous and she is most definately real. SO FUCK ALLL THE HATERRS :)my boo is doing fine

  • Chelsea Sule

    Her dad was not rich. She didnt go to prep school, she went to an alcohol rehabilitation school. When she came back home, her parents didnt let her stay with them so she moved into a trailer park and started making music and videos. She makes all of her own videos, writes all of her own lyrics. And I’m sorry, but WHAT EXACTLY IS GENERIC AND POPPY ABOUT HER? her style is unlike anyone I’ve ever seen, her artistic talent is phenomenal, and her voice… is from another world. The Vocal range on that girl is nothing short of a true talent blessing from God. Lana is fucking amazing. end of story.

    • Sham

      Haha so basically what you’re telling us is you’re one of those idiots who believes everything the media says

  • Lela Jenkins

    I totally agree with that gap between her image and music thing. She’s a good singer, but her music isn’t amazing. Or maybe it’s just not my taste, idk. :P

  • Lilian

    Wow, it’s like you put no effort what so ever to get your facts straight. Which is quite important when writing an article about someone. Lana, or Elizabeth Grant, writes her own music, makes her own video montages/music videos. You throw out statements with nothing to back it up, and I’m getting the impression that you just based everything you wrote on comments from haters. This is not pop, nor boring, and suddenly your whole session about her music is how YOU personally feel about (her)it (which is ironic, when you state that most of the arguments isn’t about her music). Can you at least try to be a little objective on the matter?

    She is a writer, and why shouldn’t she be allowed to write and sing about topics or feelings that most people don’t like to face? I think she has a very unique style, quite underground jazzy – and oh, hey. Is it really a problem that she didn’t have a break through the first time she tried? What does that have to do with anything? If you listen to her old songs they are very alike in style, so she hasn’t sold out or anything. I feel like you Americans don’t like to face the fact that you didn’t like her the first time around but she gets accepted AFTER getting a surgery. And that is such an important matter for you when you criticize her. Congrats on being shallow. What angers me, though, is how you make it sound like she WANTS to get verbally abused and that she is using it to gain more attention. “She inspires people to say incredibly stupid things about her” … Stupid thing like that, perhaps?

    Also, I haven’t gotten the impression that she is “trying to (re)brand herself” as you so creatively put it. She laid off from singing for a while, still writing songs, but focusing on other things instead before she later got discovered and got the opportunity to continue pursuing a singing career. And I heard her the first time on spotify, and I must say my love for her music didn’t start because of her “pouty sexy image”, nor is it the reason why I still love her.

    And I know I personally will continue to “throw my money and attention at her”, because in my opinion she deserves it, whether you like it or not. Because that’s what I want, and what her other fans want. And it’s really sad that you get mad and angry that she has devoted fans. My advice? Grow up, and find more important causes to fight for and get passionately angry about.

  • Ivan

    Who cares, she is very lovely person and her music makes people happy. More people on earth like her!

  • CamiloGines

    1) This is not a subjective opinion article, It sounds like a ridiculous whining from a stupid girl trying to offend Lana Del Rey and her fans with nonsense arguments. (Probably a Lordeformed fan).
    2) Lana is not a POP star. Now everyone can make comercial pop and THAT is boring.
    3) Her musica is not boring. Not all good music is for easy bitches who want to move butt.

    4) She has an INTERnational audience, bitch please.
    Saludos desde Colombia.