Lana Del Rey: Don’t Make Her Sad, Don’t Make Her Cry

Is Lana Del Rey a ‘product’ that has been put together by larger forces in the music industry to cater to the increased demand for indie-yet-easy-to-consume artists? Or is she an overly dramatic young woman expressing her saccharine emotions?

I remember fervently listening to MIA four years ago, during her Arular period and enjoying her music for its pleasant Diplo-matic beats and what I considered to be a political element. But after seeing her perform live three times my respect of the political paragon of her lyrics dwindled progressively. I ultimately decided that what I was proudly consuming as indie music was pop, and I felt sour or tricked. Today, it is funny to me that I thought MIA was a political activist that would in any capacity be a catalyst for change in Sri Lanka.

I came to accept that there was a legitimate validity in the critical 2010 Lynn Hirschberg profile in the Times. The fact that the profile was accompanied by pictures taken by Ryan McGinley did not ameliorate my view of the musician. Additionally, having arrived briefly after Maya’s NME daring cover statement, “Lady Gaga sounds more like me than I f-cking do,” I felt less inclined to dance to “Paper Planes” than ever before.

The reason Maya’s attack on Lady Gaga was a turnoff for me was abstract — I was agitated that while I loved MIA’s music she did not possess adequate intellect to be perceived as an artist or an intelligent individual. This was the direct opposite of my opinion of Lady Gaga, whose music I did not consider as anything more profound than pop, but who was capable of, time and time again, demonstrating a rather insightful and thought-provoking presence in the media.

This particular moment in mainstream music is significant: mainstream musicians are for the first time facing the growing expectations of an audience that expects them to be well-rounded, intellectually curious and opinionated. Certainly that has yet to become a universal rule, as pop singers who lack any interest in ‘educated’ matters have not ceased to exist. However, a trend began in the past decade, with the younger consumers of music expecting more from their singers than a “Baby One More Time.”

Maybe the Internet, which spawned the ostensible beginning of her career, is the reason Lana Del Rey has been the recipient of such harsh criticism. It is undeniable that Lana Del Rey has become an overnight fixation, spurring much debate over whether she deserves her success. Many feel deceived: they thought they had discovered a girl with retro style, but it turned out to she’s a signed artist with a record in the works.

Lana Del Rey’s beauty is unquestionable: her gestures, movements and body language imply that she is cognizant of it, or at least performing that she is aware of it exceptionally. Questions regarding her ‘natural’ beauty arise, questions that do seem malevolent if we remember the myriad stars of the past and present who have foregone plastic surgery procedures to enhance their appearance. All of a sudden, consumers feel the need to express their desire for organic beauty and excellence.

Changing her name from Lizzy Grant to Lana Del Rey may have been an unwise move, providing an argument for her critics to say: ‘She is completely manufactured from her sound to her name’ in a vitriolic manner. Others insist she is appropriating an aesthetic: she is doing the white trashy, tattooed up, gangsta thing. And naturally, Lana Del Rey is not worthy of their respect due to her affluent roots: they nullify her street cred.

Remember that Del Rey did not enter our world promising to change it or alter our system of order. She did make music and did find an audience. Our fixation on her may be short-lived or it may be the beginning of a lasting career. She does not have to be an opinionated intellectual to be a successful musician, and having such expectations from all pop stars might be unfair.

Not everyone needs to, nor can, be Patti Smith. If we remind ourselves that Del Rey’s music is indeed pop music — and not an indie product that came to fruition sans the support of producers — it will be harder to be offended by it. Especially with lips like that. TC mark

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    i thought ‘oh, patti lupone’ but no, i jumped the gun

  • guest

    people who criticise “contrived music product” spend to much time reading the wrong things. 

  • Anonymous

    She’s like a hotdog – it tastes really good but you don’t necessarily want to know how it was made. Regardless, I still enjoy hotdogs and I still enjoy Lana Del Rey.

  • Brainpowers

    where has ldr been receiving harsh crit. exactly?  hro? i don’t think that ‘counts’.

    • Dolly Hammers

      hipster runoff.
      which is, like, totally a legitimate news source with lots of ethical journalists and biting cultural criticism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iamahmad Ahmad Radheyyan

    Her music is gorgeous, I think that’s all that needs to be said about her. Listen to a live version of “Videogames” without feeling your heart stir. Or just make snide comments about her lips. Whatever.

    • Anonymous

      People today get butt hurt if someone comes onto the scene that doesn’t shake their a$$ in front of the camera lens and gets publicity about the way they dress, like Lady GaGa or Beyonce.

      Del Rey has talent. Natural, singing and writing talent. Screw the media for trying to pull her down. Its just not right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathon-Ferrari/100001319787228 Jonathon Ferrari

    Indie artists with ink scratched into their skin or gauge earings have some balls to criticise another for any other form of beuaty inhancement.

  • http://timlivingston123.wordpress.com/ tim livingston

    Is Lana Del Ray popular?  Does she have any tracks in the Billboard Hot 100?

  • Anonymous

    its all well, but the name changing disturbs me. I always thought she was this confused exotic beauty with fuckloads of passion, that was, before i found out she changed her name. now she is just another lizzy.

    but goddamn, those lips. thats the new jay-z level we’re talking about there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/henrycrouch Henry Crouch

    Amen to the last paragraph. I adore Patti Smith’s brilliant lyrics, ferocity and groove-inducing rhythms… but I would be so exhausted if everyone sounded like her.

  • Rebecca Aranda

    Cool overuse of adverbs dude

    Funny use of adjectives too

  • macgyver51

    Or I could quit trying to be cool and just enjoy Regina Spektor and Gillian Welch.

  • Megan

    But you liked the way that MIA sounded. Did you stop thinking she sounded cool/good/danceable/whatever after you decided she wasn’t, like, Bernadette Devlin or something? Or did you just stop idolizing her? 

    • Etezapsidis

      i realized it was unfair on my part to have the expectations i used to have from pop artists. 

      MIA did very much enter the scene as a ‘rebel,’ unlike LDR. if you read the hirschberg profile, you know what i mean.

  • Juliejc5

    4 years ago–2007–was MIA’s Kala era. Arular was released in 2005. Thanks!

  • Jake

    Some good observations here and I think the debate over the issue should prove interesting. I feel almost as if the requisite intellect and purity of artists/musicians parallels the best-friend/drinking buddy requirement of our politicians – people seem to have confused compartments for these areas. 

    Personally, I think Video Games is haunting and the music video cool and interesting. Is it original – no, is she original – no, is she genuine – err…I don’t think we should care. For ‘good sounding’ look at LDR; for genuine look to your boyfriend/girlfriend. 

    Cool piece, thanks for your thoughts Elias!

  • http://kylelamar.com/ Kyle LaMar

    Haters gonna hate, makers gonna make.

  • Cake

    ameliorate

  • Lana Del fake

    Well I know a friend that actually met Lana Del Ray before she was famous and she said that she had a very rich boyfriend, who was a rich business man, and that she dressed very differently i.e she wore gucci and was going for the WAG look. Apparently she was outrageously weird but was not the alternative kind of look she is now, so they changed her look, but they said to my friend that she was going to be huge the year after and here she is. Also apparently her lips are done.

    • Anonymous

      “Apparently” we all believe every he said she said story we read on the internet.

    • Anonymous

      “A friend of a friend’s uncle’s mother told me that…”

      Yeah, we’ve all heard this one before, folks.

      • Jlevit

        But it’s a proven fact that her father is a millionaire and that she’s just a rich daddy’s-girl star-wannaba-industry-product.

      • Anonymous

        If your parents were mega rich, you would be stupid not to ask them for a helping hand, tool.

  • http://twitter.com/_nickk Nick Morrow

    lana del rey isn’t indie; she has said it herself. the only reason people have become fixated on “organic beauty” when it comes to LDR is because she was “discovered” by “indie” blogs who strive for grassroots fuck-the-industry artists rather than more consumable music. she was given relative rise by these bloggers because of her “video games” video which, by the way, she fully made herself (along with the whole writing her own music thing). sure, she’s produced to a certain extent, but she spent (in her words) 8 years being ignored by the music industry, so who are we to take away her shining moment by saying she isn’t organic? yeah, fuck the industry, but only because it’s become something that backlashes against anyone who doesn’t say “fuck the industry.”

    p.s. i love lana.

    • Katja

      and why should a person with a brain believe “in her words”??

  • http://twitter.com/spencercniemetz Spencer Niemetz

    Told myself if I didn’t see a Lana Del Rey article by the end of December, I’d write one myself. Thnx bby cause i had homework + yours is better than mine would have been

  • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com/ Aja

    I like the look she’s going for but her music really does nothing for me unless it’s remixed by Odd Future. 

  • cheese

    this is mediocre, high school level writing. oh, and wait. did you miss the slew of LDR think-pieces, which have inundated the blogosphere, ad nauseaum for the past few months? excellent, original thinking, to be sure. way to break new ground! 

  • Brc2910

    I must confess I envied her lips hahaha, but this is a short-term jealousy of course. I love you Elias mou so so much! I know that I will be reading many many more articles from you in 2012. happy new year!

  • Acadia_norfolk

    She is simply what money can buy. If your family is mega rich, they can buy you stardom. She didn’t create her videos, her voice, her name, her brand…

    The thing is, all the money and resources and prop-ups can’t carry you on stage. Apparently. 

    • Cavin Graves

      Actually she did create quite a lot of her own music videos if you look at her interviews and her youtube channel you will see that.

  • http://twitter.com/GeistFright Geist Fright

    I think that when M.I.A. was saying that GaGa sounded like her more than she did, she was actually referring to the song ‘Chillin’. In this song, GaGa melodically references ‘Paper Planes’ and I guess that’s when M.I.A. thought that GaGa was a ‘good mimic.’ 

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