Where should I even begin when it comes to discussing Lana Del Rey at this point?
You could start from the beginning and talk about the album she released under her real name, “A.K.A. Lizzy Grant,” which was declared dead on arrival and scrubbed from the Internet. Or you could go back to the blog-hyped release of her “hit” single, “Video Games,” which really started the Lana Del Rey wars of 2011. Or you could go only as far back as mid-January to her now infamously sub-par “Saturday Night Live” debut that journalist Brian Williams even called “one of the worst outings in ‘SNL’ history.”
But chances are if you’re reading this and you’ve ever used the Internet before, you’ve already heard about those things. However, I’d also say the odds are relatively high that you’ve never actually heard any of her songs.
This is perhaps one of the reasons why everyone is so up in arms about Del Rey — she’s seemingly becoming a sensation overnight, without proving herself to the tastemakers and authenticity-validators who demand their approval before welcoming an interloper as one of their own.
Del Rey has been struggling to break into the music industry with a variety of musical projects since at least 2008. She finally got her break this summer when she released “Video Games,” the first single from “Born To Die” on the Internet, and saw it make the indie music blog rounds. “Blue Jeans,” the other half of the single, garnered nearly equal amounts of praise from the same blogs.
Each song was accompanied with a self-made video that basically rolled up everything currently popular in indie pop: heaping amounts of nostalgia, grainy film footage of scenes from the ’60s, DIY aesthetics and more. Therefore, their intended audiences ate up her videos.
The Del Rey wars over her authenticity and motives were already raging by the time the slick, high-budget video for the album’s title track, “Born To Die,” was released. However, so far Del Rey was (by most counts) three-for-three in terms of generally likeable songs. Once she turned in her poor performance on “SNL” prior to her album’s release, many were finally convinced she was a talentless product of the industry music machine.
Her detractors are partly right. I do not mean to say that “Born To Die” is a great album. It’s not. In fact, parts of it are terrible. “National Anthem” features some of the worst songwriting of the whole album, while also serving as the record’s most outright laughable track. Lyrics include, “Money is the reason we exist; everybody knows it; It’s a fact, kiss kiss. Money is the anthem of success, so put on mascara and your party dress.”