What's the deal with Lana Del Rey?

by - Thursday, March 22, 2012

currently: at home again, with a doctor's note this time.

So despite me thinking I was well enough to go to uni yesterday, I only managed to stay for 1 and a half hours in class before I couldn't continue attempting to think. So I stopped being stubborn, listened to my friend @emmaruthp and finally went to the doctors. I have some sinus issue (woo.) and because I'm allergic to every tree/grass/flower, it requires a lot of antibiotics to kick the cold. So I'm stuck at home on this week's first sunny day in Auckland this week.

Thanks Auckland. Really.
(PLEASE don't rain this weekend.)

Anyway, I realised that I hadn't posted my Lana Del Rey opinion piece that I had written for the third issue of debate which came out last week. This is again the unpublished version, as I'm too lazy to copy out the proper version on here. Can you blame me? I've been popping throaties in my mouth like candy.

No matter, enjoy reading, and please if you have any criticisms, share it with me. I actually enjoy intellectual arguing. Yes, I'm one of those people.

What is the deal with Lana Del Rey?
In a decade where we seem to embrace a lot of freaky, weird and different at the top of the music charts (Katy ‘whipped cream boobs’ Perry, the possibly schizophrenic Nicki Minaj, and Monster Queen Lady Gaga – just to name a few), the ever so unemotional Lana Del Rey has been called by many as this year’s ‘it girl’ for the charts. However, just as many are predicting that Del Rey will fall before she barely starts. Will Lana Del Rey, the self-described ‘Gangsta Nancy Sinatra’ be this year’s face of the music? Or will she just be a pair of forgotten moody lips?

The name Lana Del Rey can cause three different types of reactions. There are the lovers that say:
“Lana Del Rey’s voice is orgasmic.”

Then there are the haters that say:
“Oh hi Lana Del Rey, your tone of singing voice makes me want to stab myself in the ears and jump in front of a big fast moving bus.”

And then there are the few who are just confused:
“Who is this Lana Del Rey person and how come I can't go online without seeing her name?”

This was only just a sample of the hundreds of tweets that were sent about Lana Del Rey on the day she won the BRIT award for International Breakthrough Act, less than a month since her debut album, Born to Die, was released. Whether or not you care about her, her music, her look, and her face seems to have caused a reaction with critics, music junkies and hipsters like marmite spread – you either love her or hate her.

So how does one seemingly average 24-year-old New York woman manage to cause so much drama?

Lana Del Rey wasn’t always Lana Del Rey, who claimed to have started her musical career singing at Open Mike nights in hipster bars. She was originally born as Elizabeth Grant, a girl who grew up at Lake Placid in New York and attending boarding school in Connecticut. At 19, she attempted to release a mainstream album under the name Lizzy Grant. It’s fair to say the album didn’t really turn a tide in the musical waters, since you didn’t hear of her the first time around. So she went away, did not get collagen injections in her lips (“allegedly”), changed from blonde to ginger, and renamed herself after the Ford Del Rey car – and all of this was achieved thanks to the help of her supposedly very rich father.

So does that give people a reason to hate her? Well, for reinventing herself, no. Musical artists are constantly in order to stay relevant, fresh and different from the pack. I’m sure Ke$ha wasn’t the trashy homeless looking drunk she always was. Lady Gaga was definitely birthed as a normal child before she was birthed out of a freakish giant egg. Even Katy Perry started out as Katy Hudson, a happy blonde Christian pop artist who re-emerged seven years later as the pin up girl for bi-curious females. So with this argument, Lana Del Rey is not necessarily inauthentic for reinventing herself, she’s just in some new and different packaging (with added duck face lips).

But despite that, Lana Del Rey has quite a few reasons to be criticised. For one, she wasn’t some undiscovered Justin Bieber picked out by Usher, but had been financially supported for her album’s recording and marketing by her millionaire father. Don’t think that’s worth criticising? She is essentially an indie version of Rebecca Black. It is all about the argument whether buying your way into the industry is worth the same sort of value as earning and working yourself up the charts. Compare it to being in a sports team at school. It would be like a parent buying their kid a place in the top ranked sports team because they offered to fund everyone’s new uniforms and gear. Rich people who get everything the easy way tend to piss other people off.

And then there is her newly dubbed title as the “Worst Performance in Saturday Night Live History”. Lana Del Rey’s live two-song performance on America’s popular comedy show in mid-January (with guest host Daniel ‘Potter’ Radcliff) clearly showed that she never built up the skills to put on a musical performance. While people say that she looked to be suffering from nervousness, she did not have any sort of confidence or stage presence. No dancing (or show of emotion) was really involved, her movement only extending as far as awkward swaying and excessive hair brushing with her super long fingers. In fact, her frequency of hair touching in that performance would equal the amount of hair flipping Justin Bieber has done in his short lifetime. Why SNL thought it was a good idea to allow an inexperienced singer on stage for a dull and dreary performance, I’ll never understand. She has been marketed too far out of her depth and at this stage – she may drown before she gets a good chance to swim.

So how should we deal with the phenomenon that is Lana Del Rey? Well we could wait till she works and earns a solid place in musical stardom, or we can wait until she becomes another ordinary girl 15 minutes from now. Which will happen first? People, take your bets now.

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