The Controversial Cult of Lana Del Rey
Have you heard of Lana Del Rey yet?
She's been called (or calls herself) "the gangsta Nancy Sinatra." That's a pretty apt description- she sounds like the long lost daughter of Sinatra's whose voice has earned its huskiness from smoking joints the past several years, while drinking (diet) mountain dew with her boyfriend of choice, who (I'm assuming) looks like a twin of Corey Hart, tattoos and piercings and all. (This is based on the boys she's groping in her videos. The girl has a type, I suppose.)
And she looks very much the bad girl part, which she is supposed to play. There's no doubt that Lana is gorgeous. Lana Del Rey appears just as sad and as romantic as her songs make her seem. Dirty blonde hair, almost cheap (but not quite) make-up, torn clothes that appeal to some post-Americana aesthetic...
And yet, there are those that walk among us that would insist LANA IS A FAKE.
At first, that sort of accusation of the meteorically-rising "sadcore" semi-indie (and I hate myself for typing that) smells strongly of jealousy. After all, who wouldn't want a swing at a pretty girl who is bringing in all kind of success?
Though in reality, these barbed criticisms have ground in fact. Lana Del Rey really made her emergence as "Lizzie Grant," which is her given name. Lana Del Rey is the creation (she's admitted) of the team behind her, a combination of movie star Lana Turner and the car the Ford Del Rey. Two vintage pieces of classic Americana and voila, given some "indie" sensibility, and you have what should be a bona fide star.
What should be. What works in blueprints and record company office memos. These critics are voicing the idea that Lana Del Rey is really just a figment of our nostalgia-hungry imaginations, provided by perceptive record executives out to save a dying industry. Thus, they say not to trust her and that all evidence (i.e. her father being a multimillionaire, the high unlikelihood she ever lived in a trailer park) leads to her being a big old phony. When this stands in STARK contrast to her image -- a totally real home girl sort who hails from a sexed out trailer park.
And in an age when we can barely trust our government or the media or our own neighbors, I totally understand where this Lana Del Rey paranoia stems from. I respect it and I even buy into it, to a certain degree.
However, keep in mind that Elvis was an invention. That, to some extent, Bob Dylan was an invention (though of his own being). Do we expect our artists to be totally honest with us? I think we do, having been spoiled by several high profile celebrities that go by the modus operandi of wearing their bleeding hearts on their sleeves. But, how many artists and entertainers, through the course of history, have not indulged in developing a persona? Dean Martin, after all, drank apple juice (instead of alcohol) when performing and let his audience think otherwise.
So even if the Lana Del Rey controversy is a legit argument, which it seems to be, does it really matter? For some, yes. As for me, I can listen to her and consider my longings for pining in dive-y small town bars, smoking low grade cigarettes and finding the right American flag shirts at my local Wal-Mart.
p.s. more reason to envy Del Rey! she just got a modelling contract.
edit: Ray/Rey SORRY