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.
After racking up tens of millions of views on YouTube and generating more conversation than virtually any other “indie” artist in 2011, Lana Del Rey made her American television debut tonight on Saturday Night Live. She performed “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans”, the two songs that first propelled her from virtual obscurity and put her on the map less than six months ago. America clearly took notice, too: She was a trending topic on Twitter not once but twice tonight (although, it must be noted, one of those times the TT was “Lana Del Ray”, a misspelling of her name).
Spelling issues aside, SNL provided a compelling introduction to Lana Del Rey’s unique sound. She appeared a bit nervous at the outset of each of her two performances tonight, her voice dropping into an even lower register than she generally sings, but she settled into a groove each time and finished both songs with gusto. Curiously, she chose not to perform “Born To Die,” the song which she shot a big budget video for back in December (and is currently the Single of the Week in the iTunes Store), but we suppose she’ll probably perform that when she visits the Late Show With David Letterman and Ellen in a few weeks.
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?
We’re starting to think that maybe Michael Bubléis Christmas. Is that even possible? With his Christmas album holding tight at #1 on the charts, Michael Bublé is the only name you need to know this Christmas (apart from Santa, of course). This weekend on Saturday Night Live, Bublé not only performed a classy, romantic rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (after the jump), but he also got his very own sketch and imagined Duets album (above). It’s the perfect way to start your Monday morning, because if you don’t laugh out loud at the winking, dancing Justin Bieber (Jimmy Fallon) parody, or giggle at Taylor Swift‘s over awed gaping mouth (Kristen Wiig) then you’ve got a heart so cold not even Bublé can help you this holiday season.
Ever wondered what happened on the Saturday Night Live Writers’ Night? Apparently, not writing — but we’re not complaining, because this is better. Preparing for last weekend’s SNLhosted by Katy Perry with performance by Robyn, SNL star Taran Killam and a bunch of his peers — SNL writers Sarah Schneider and Zach Kanin, and fellow cast members Abby Elliott, Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan— got a bit batty and experimental at 4.30am. The team reenacted Robyn‘s “Call Your Girlfriend” with impeccable accuracy, from the dance right down to the lighting. Watch the video above for your morning LOL.
On a Katy Perry hosted episode of Saturday Night Live, Robyn gave an impeccable performance of her songs “Dancing On My Own” and “Call Your Girlfriend.” One of the few solo performers that can carry a live act alone, Robyn manages to captivate with high energy, perfect vocals and killer dance moves that require no extra fuss or frills. The best part is, while Robyn is a joy to watch, her lyrics are… well… a tad depressing! Despite that Robyn still makes toes tap, even when she’s be jilted by her lover and is left dancing on her own. Add an introduction by the adorable, newly blonde-bobbed Katy Perry, and you’ve got a recipe for pop deliciousness.
Katy Perry is set to host Saturday Night Live this weekend, which will be her first turn at hosting the iconic sketch comedy show, with Robyn performing as the musical guest. With Katy vying for “The One That Got Away” to reach the #1 spot on the Billboard charts, we wonder if the gig at SNL won’t help to boost her profile as position on the charts, especially considering how adorable the pop star is in the show’s promotional video with Kenan Thompson. Endearingly personable, Perry is sans pink wig and elaborate costuming, and instead is elegant wearing her new cropped blonde bob and a printed shift dress. She’s funny, too — just try not to smile when she does an impersonation of husband Russell Brand‘s acting advice to her which culminates with “be a bit cheeky!”
Die hard Black Keys fans the world over are wide-eyed in disbelief as the unassuming band is skyrocketing their way to rock superstardom, mainly because we’re just so used to their defiant, organic sound flying ever so slightly under the radar. But the attention is well deserved, as the Black Keys’ dedication to rock’n’roll is completely unwavering, their music consistently inspiring. Since they made meme status with the “Lonely Boy” dancer, it only makes sense that the next logical step is a second appearance on Saturday Night Live. Performing “Lonely Boy” and “Gold On The Ceiling,” the Keys shine, upping the ante for their contemporaries and giving rock authenticity a much needed renaissance. If you like what you saw on SNL, be sure to tune in tonight for MTV Hive’s‘s live stream of the Black Keys in concert from New York City, at 9 p.m ET/6 p.m. PT.
Florence + The Machine frontwoman Florence Welch flexed her funny bone on Saturday Night Live this weekend, performing in a sketch as Flow-Diggity Flow-Doubt in a satirical take on New Jack Swing. The sketch features parody characters like Sweaty Keith and Cross Cris, performing hilarious “turkey themed r’n’b rap fusion songs.” Florence shines in the first comedic role that we’ve ever seen her perform, showing her lighter side after taking a noticeably darker turn with Florence + The Machine’s new album, Ceremonials. Belting out a hilarious tune about the “adult table,” Flo croons about forgetting footsies and going straight for “full on sex.” Her deadpan expression is priceless and she stares down the camera with her best bedroom eyes, hand on hip and declares “it’s time to grow up.” The clip has not only got us giggling, but sort of hoping Flo will consider releasing an R & B album in the future … We can only dream!
Florence also appeared in another sketch as an enthusiastic dancing groupie for Jason Segel’s fictional band, The Blue Jean Committee (below), but the Florence Fest didn’t stop there. The performer took to the stage with The Machine for “No Light, No Light” and “Shake It Out.” A far cry from the irreverence with which she played Flow-Diggity, Florence was poised, graceful and elegant as she sang both songs. Not to mention divine, first while wearing Balmain, and second in a floor length black and lace cascading gown in signature Florence style. Keep an eye out for the impeccable Florence performing with The Machine for VH1’s DIVAS Celebrates Soul on Monday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET/8 CT on VH1.