For my very first Her Campus post last spring, I shared my thoughts on YouTube sensation of the time, Rebecca Black. And like the other 99% of opinions circling Black, my thoughts weren’t very nice. I bring this up because a new YouTube sensation is upon us these days and like Black, everyone seems to have an opinion on her.
The woman in question is Lana del Rey (born Lizzie Grant). In recent months, del Rey has dropped a few singles and videos garnering a massive amount of attention from web users. Yet this attention comes in many forms. First is the music itself. Stereogum chose these words to describe del Rey’s first single “Video Games.”
“Video Games,” her forthcoming single, is the sort of languidly sexy orchestral pop that we haven’t heard enough of since Fiona Apple’s been away”
This is a pretty accurate description but I really hate trying to describe how music sounds. You always sound like a kind of a douche. So you should just take a listen for yourself. Below are del Rey’s first two videos, “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” respectively.
As you can see, del Rey is all about the '50s/'60s nostalgia, the American Dream (what does that mean again?), bad boys and stock footage. Here’s what I have to say. I love it. The music I mean. It’s catchy, it’s interesting, the arrangements are there and of course, del Rey’s voice is beautiful. If I had to choose one descriptor for del Rey’s music it would be yearning. And the videos (both of which del Rey created herself) only help portray this yearning for the past, for love lost, for companionship. Music is about feeling and I can honestly say that I feel some of this yearning when I listen to her music.
But of course, with popularity becomes backlash. And in the age of the Internet, someone (usually a lot of people) are down to talk to sh*t. Which brings me to del Rey’s appearance, one of the other things she’s received a lot of press for.
Yup, that’s her. I’d suggest you take time to peruse some more pictures of del Rey paying close attention to her lips (you can’t really miss them). Done that? OK yeah they’re huge. But she claims that they’re real, stating:
“I haven’t had anything done at all. Anyone who’s known me will tell you that. I’m sorry, but I was living in a trailer park for a few years. I didn’t even have enough money to buy Cocoa Puffs. It’s not like I crawled out from under the bridge and got surgery. I’m quite pouty. [Laughs.] I’m a pouty person. That’s just how I look when I sing.” –From Complex
Hmm. OK. Still not really sure about that one. But hey, like I said I’m Team Lana and if she says they’re real, they’re real. But besides the lips, she’s obviously a very attractive person and this is a man’s world. I don’t think I need to say much else about the backlash that can come from looking like she does. But onto the last point. Her past.
Before Lana del Rey there was Lizzie Grant, a struggling musician who released an album back in 2010 on a tiny label that failed to reach success and was dropped. I believe the album is now back on iTunes but haven’t given it a listen. Instead, del Rey wants us to focus on her new music and claims that even though managers and lawyers helped her choose the name Lana del Rey, she is still the same person and not a product of the evil machine that is the music industry. This admission of course raised a lot of red flags. If her name is fake, then what else is? The music? The image? But del Rey has confirmed in several interviews that she writes the songs and makes the videos. That’s good enough for me.
So what does all this mean? Are we still allowed to like music from artists who have remodeled themselves after commercial failure? Obviously. There’s a plethora of them out there. Think of David Bowie when he reemerged during the glam rock era. Would del Rey receive as much bad press if she were a man? Probably not, but I don’t really want to get into the gender politics of it all (wait, should I? This is Her Campus, after all). I guess all I want to say is that I enjoy the music, the image, the videos and frankly, I just don't care about the rest of it. Because at the end of the day the music is really all that matters.