Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In Defense of Lana Del Rey



Dear Readers -

Now I've heard of the backlash against her. I read the New York magazine article: http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2012/01/anatomy-of-a-backlash-lana-del-rey.html (I can no longer even try with those sausage links for the moment), saw the Saturday Night Live performance and finally bought the album. And this is what Crystal says:

All of you bitches are just jealous. Maybe she is no good live? I don't know. Maybe she's just not good on national TV? I've seen plenty of amazing people on record that are pretty horrible live (see Power, Cat).

Now this records takes something from Fiona Apple and Amy Winehouse (RIP) but then she turns the pop starlet on her head, totally self-aware of her place in the history of pop tarts.

The album starts with Born to Die and you hear a whisper of a voice, a giggle even. I knew nothing of her really, so I thought oh shit. Here it comes. She says "Hi. Who Me? Why?" And then goes into this deep - dare I say - Nico-esque baritone "Fate don't fail me now." Like she knew about it already. She's the anti-Miley (and Crystal loves Miley) And by the way, we are not prone to music reviews. Or are we? If only Gorgeous were here.

She sings about drugs but not as subjects a la Winehouse; for Del Rey they are merely accessories to her hipster experience which consists of melodrama, sex (lots of sex) and being the pretty girl. The very pretty girl. The pretty hipster girl you all hated and wanted to be. Except for Crystal. She was this girl and oftentimes dated her too. Crystal hasn't dabbled in the puss puss for years but Ms. Del Rey really gets her labia in a lather!

For this very reason she is also the anti-Gaga (and Crystal never liked Gaga). Gaga says she was born this way (ugly, grotesque) but Del Rey was born to die (her beauty like so many before her will be the death of her).

The album is rife with cliche. Many lyrics feel stolen from every bad movie ever made. "Light of my life, fire of my loins"; "and I'm off to the races"; "I'm crazy baby I need you to come here and save me" and these are just from one song but immediately after that she coos in her I'm-like-Britney/Mandy/Miley-too-falsetto "I'm your little Scarlett, starlet, hanging in the garden kiss me on my open mouth." A know-it-all-Lolita. Redundant? Crystal doesn't know.

The cliches keep coming but there's something about it that doesn't offend and it's consistent with her being in on the joke. On Video Game she sounds like your older sister or her trampy friend that would taunt the young boys in school, maybe give them a hand or blow job just because she could and then walk away unscathed, unafraid of any backlash because you too were afraid of her. And all the gay boys wanted to be just like her, with that bravado, that swagger, that hair. She often times comes across as the preacher's daughter, the really bad one (but probably not so bad) like Lori Singer in Footloose.

Lana will fall prey to just being herself. She'll be called dumb because she's very pretty and slutty because she seems to be pretty confident in her interest in sex and a bad influence because she doesn't walk around hiding her sexuality a la Miley Cyrus:

I hopped off the plane at LAX
with a dream and my cardigan
welcome to the land of fame excess, (woah)
am I gonna fit in?

So hard with my girls not around me
Its definitely not a Nashville party
Cause' all I see are stilletos
I guess I never got the mem

or sanitizing it by being a weird-o non-sexual "I love you all Little Monsters!" post-Madonna being. Are there any straight men actually attracted to the Gaga persona.

Also, and thank the maker, Del Rey has no Baby You're a Firework and it's okay to be gay theme song. Please don't. Crystal is tired of straight pop tarts who - and I know you like to kiss girls, so did Madonna 25 years ago - think that by being sort of gay, sometimes after two Appletinis, you are at the forefront of some new civil rights era.

Lady Gaga - I'm going to meet with President Obama and demand justice for LGBTs because they're a weak people and can't do anything for themselves.

Ugh.

Del Rey is interested in love and fun and drama and drinking and drugs and being a bad girl and nostalgia and while she's a few years younger than Crystal (she's 25, we're 28) we're close enough in age to want and long for the same thing: dancing at the dive bar with no consequences; Pre-herpes, pre the 3 abortions we had, the full time jobs, the fear of responsibilities. One thing mattered and that was to be important in your own, insular and yes hipster world. Now her world is bigger and it's for the best.

Vivia Lana Del Rey! Viva the hipster! Viva the post-pop tart!

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