However, it isn’t all peaches and cream in Lana Del Rey’s world this week. Despite the fact that she played a well-received set on Letterman last week and performed an intimate gig for her passionate fanbase at the Los Angeles outpost of Amoeba Records yesterday, it seems that Interscope is determined to limit her exposure at this point in time. Earlier this week, the New York Post erroneously reported that she had cancelled a planned Spring tour of the United States; her reps firmly denied this to be the case, but then confirmed to Pitchfork that LDR had indeed cancelled a planned outing to Australia, as well as her highly-anticipated SXSW dates in March. So, for now, LDR fans will have to make do with repeated listens to Born To Die, as well as a still unscheduled appearance on Ellen, to get their Lana fix.
Mere moments after Lana Del Rey completed her now infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, we saw dozens of tweets in our feed comparing her performance to something that a weird Kristen Wiig character would do. Well, the rabid imagination of the Twitter community came to life on last night’s episode of SNL, when Wiig showed up unannounced during Weekend Update as Lana Del Rey.
Wiig’s impression, which was a very slight variation of her classic character in the series of Two A-Holes sketches, straddled the line between mocking and defending the 25-year-old singer. Wiig’s Del Rey described herself as “stiff, distant and weird,” but also addressed the “authenticity” argument by sarcastically (and sagely) noting that “No serious musician would ever change their name, except maybe for Sting, Cher, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, everyone else in hip hop, and of course Bob Dylan.” The segment was fairly meh, mainly because head writer Seth Meyers avoided the opportunity to poke fun at NBC News anchor Brian Williams. As you’ll recall, Williams went out of his way to criticize SNL and bash Del Rey in a controversial email to Gawker, and Weekend Update’s refusal to jab back at Williams demonstrated for the umpteenth time that this era of the show places a greater emphasis on playing nice in the corporate sandbox than it does on biting the hand that feeds.
Many, many moons ago, cultural critic Adam Sternbergh outlined his theory about the Undulating Curve Of Shifting Expectations in the pages of New York Magazine. Basically, what the UCoSE does is provide us a way of analyzing the trajectory of entertainment products as they metamorphize their way through his theorized seven-stage growth chart: Pre-Buzz, Buzz, Rave Reviews, Saturation Point, Overhyped, Backlash, and finally, Backlash To The Backlash. When this chart was conceived back in March of 2006, the Internet was clearly already an important medium; however, sites like Facebook and Twitter had yet to reach the masses in the way that they do today, so it generally took “entertainment products” a decent amount of time to fully mature and run through the full cycle of the UCoSE. However, that is not the case today — thanks to omnipresence of social media, the cycle of culture consumption has clearly accelerated.
(ED. NOTE—Admittedly, this is a somewhat roundabout intro to what you’re about to read, but if you bear with us, we promise that it will all pay off.)
Now, it may seem slightly weird to classify a real, live human being like Lana Del Rey as an “entertainment product,” but it’s pretty clear to us that she’s already rocketed through six of the first seven stages of Sternbergh’s UCoSE, albeit in an extremely abbreviated fashion. However, it now appears that after Del Rey’s widely-maligned SNL performance, she’s reaching the Backlash to the Backlash stage. In a poll that we published on Tuesday, over 48% of the poll participants indicated that they’re fully on-board Team LDR, and earlier today, Whitney Cummings —star of NBC’s Whitney and herself a widely-maligned figure— wrote a blog post coming to Del Rey’s defense.
Lana Del Rey is no stranger to controversy. The stunning 25-year-old chanteuse with the haunting voice has been in the crosshairs of the indie blogosphere for months, but after she made her American television debut last night as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, she’s become a conversational lightning rod in the mainstream. Del Rey’s performances of “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” were not the strongest renditions of those songs in her young career and, as a result, many critics delighted in breaking out their book of nasty superlatives to describe her work using social media services.
Perez Hilton broke his phony, self-imposed streak of faux-niceness and tore into Lana Del Rey on Twitter in the wee hours of the morning: “Just watched SNL. Not only was @LanaDelRey vocally WAY off, but watching her utter lack of stage presence was cringe-worthy. #DontBuyTheHype” Actress and part-time singer Juliette Lewis piled on, tweeting “Wow watching this ‘singer’ on SNL is like watching a 12 year old in their bedroom when they’re pretending to sing and perform. #signofourtimes” before remembering what her own voice actually sounds like and wisely deleting her tweet. Even Eliza Dushku, last seen guest-starring on The League, weighed in on Twitter, describing Del Rey as “wack-a-doodle” before also deleting her tweet. Lest you think it was only famous people eagerly sinking their claws into her, a wholly unscientific, purely anecdotal search on Twitter we just performed shows that negative comments about LDR are outweighing positive ones by at least a 2:1 margin.
However, despite this tidal wave of haterade, it looks like Lana Del Rey and Interscope Records might end up having the last laugh. Her four song Lana Del Rey – EP is currently the #2 album on the iTunes charts (where, it should be noted, it is averaging a 4-star rating after garnering nearly 2,900 reviews) and her LP, Born To Die, is the #16 album on the Amazon.com charts, despite the fact that it doesn’t even come out until January 31. So while everyone probably wished that her performance on SNL had gone over as well as her excellent rendition of “Video Games” on Later Live … With Jools Holland back in October, it’s evident that the American public is now not only aware of this controversial new singer, but that they’re interested in learning more about who she is and what she sounds like. In other words, mission accomplished for Team LDR.
Lana Del Rey is almost nothing like you’d expect her to be. Let us explain.
In just under six months, Del Rey has gone from being a virtual unknown to landing a highly coveted gig as the musical guest on this weekend’s episode of Saturday Night Live, an opportunity that some artists work their entire careers for and never achieve. The booking of this artist, best known for her uniquely sexy voice and a cinematic style of music she describes as “Summertime sadness,” totally makes sense, though. While it’s true that she hasn’t even released her album yet —Born To Die streets on January 31— Lana has already experienced a career’s worth of buzz (and, subsequently, backlash) in indie blogosphere circles, mostly stemming from questions regarding her quote-unquote “authenticity.” This, in combination with the mysterious persona she projects in her videos and her somewhat defiant performance at the Bowery Ballroom back in December, led us to believe that she might come off as being cryptic and guarded during her interview here at VH1 HQ in New York City yesterday. The Lana Del Rey we met, though, was anything but: During the 45 minutes or so we spent with her, she was happy, effusive, relatable and totally forthcoming about the rocket ride that she’s been on for the last half of the year.
“You wanna hear a little story?” We’ve been talking to Del Rey for a few minutes about her self-made, self-edited, collage-style music videos for “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans”, the treatments of which propelled the indie chanteuse from obscurity into the spotlight, but that were also initially met with puzzlement by clueless suits at record labels (“For a long time, nobody thought that anything fit together. I brought things into different labels and to different people and they all thought it was really f***ing weird. They thought that the videos didn’t have a strong narrative and that they were creepy.”). We raise the issue of Paz De La Huerta, an actress who, depending on your vantage point in life, is either a hot mess or your spirit animal. Footage of a clearly overserved Paz made its way into Del Rey’s cut of “Video Games,” an intriguing creative decision that lends a zeitgeist-y and almost Lynchian-circa-Mulholland Drive feel to the video, underscoring the overlap in the Venn diagram of Hollywood where glamour, darkness and tragedy meet. So, we posed, did Lana ever hear from Paz herself?
While most 14 year-olds are concerned with everyday things like getting good grades and surviving the wretchedness that is puberty, teen songstress Rebecca Black has spent the better part of this year absorbing heavy artillery fire on the frontlines of the social media war. After her supremely catchy (or, depending on your opinion, totally annoying) song “Friday” launched into the viral stratosphere back in March, an army of haters mobilized to take shots at her from every corner of the Internet; just google “rebecca black friday worst song ever” and 222,000 results pop up. A tsunami of negative feedback this immense would cause many full-grown adults, let alone a 14 year-old girl, to change their name and skip town. When you add in the fact that her relations with the company that she partnered with on “Friday,” Ark Entertainment, soured to the point that they found themselves a Hermione Granger lookalike to replace her, no one would’ve said a word edgewise had Rebecca Black chosen to drop out of the limelight forever and press the “reset” button on her life.
Instead, Rebecca Black released “My Moment,” which is pretty much the Millenial equivalent of the old playground rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones / But words will never hurt me.” In the parlance of our times, the song “is what it is”; however, the video treatment is problematic in the way it depicts a group of adults whose only concern seems to be how to most efficiently monetize the phenomenon that is Rebecca Black.