Lana Del Rey: 2012's zero-talent star

Last updated 11:25 21/12/2011

Yesterday we looked at the Song of the Year - my vote was Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know. You voted the same way. Well, some of you. Others voted for Mastodon and plenty mentioned Adele - you know I once made it through a whole DVD performance by Adele - and I'm still here (a fact that seemed to make a bunch of Adele fans really sad; well, sadder).

Of course the Song of the Year is your call - it's up to you. And there were plenty of suggestions. But most disturbing to me was not the calls for Adele. She's very popular. She has the biggest-selling album of this year - it stands to reason, given the huge sales figures, that plenty of people are out there raving about Adele's songs. That's a given. I don't agree. Just as plenty of people don't agree that Gotye's tune is the song of 2011.

But the upsetting selection, mentioned more than once, was Lana Del Rey's song, Video Games.

Lana Del Rey is a creation. She was born Elizabeth Grant. She had an attempt at a pop music career under the name Lizzy Grant. It did not work.

She appears to have undergone some sort of cosmetic surgery on her lips, since. Though to call it "cosmetic" is a bit like calling a hangover a "nice reminder". There's been a hair-colour change and style-makeover to line up with the Lana portion of her name. Yes, the influence for her name is Lana Turner and then the Ford motor vehicle (Del Rey). This name will catch on; more so than Lizzy Grant.

Lana Del ReyThe name Lana Del Rey was thought up for her.

But people are loving this song Video Games - here's a live version.

What do you think?

I was bored. It feels like a song that wants to be considered alongside Bruce Springsteen's Racing in the Street. It feels like a song that doesn't even come close.

Lana Del Rey is just another created pop star; she's the indie-cool version of Katy Perry. Her appearance is about as fake. And about as appealing to some people, it seems. YouTube comments praise her "hotness" alongside praise for her songs. Her album will be released next year. This is the build-up. And yes, I realise just writing this makes me part of it.

Next year you will buy Lana Del Rey's music. You will lap it up as you've lapped up Adele. She is, in a way, next year's Adele. Well, that's the hope. And yes, why shouldn't it be the hope, right? Adele was the biggest-selling artist of the year so to snag that title is surely a goal any (well, many) aspiring musicians and pop stars might want to have. Sure.

But where I can see the hook for Adele's story - she's natural, real, down to earth or. simply put, not skinny; she lays her heart on the line, man! - I can't see the story for Lana Del Rey.

She is the bored daughter of a millionaire; Daddy probably paid for new lips to give her a new look. He probably paid for a better producer to try to give her a better sound.

I was going to provide a link to an older performance of Lizzy Grant singing - but in between discovering it and writing this the clip has been removed - presumably by Ms Del Rey's people. You were to revel in its underwhelming mix of poor singing, distinct lack of charisma and a blandly unoriginal, unexciting, unmoving song.

Oh well, I'll just post another Lana Del Rey song. This one is called Born To Die. (In preparing this post I've sat through the song twice and still can't be sure it's not actually just Video Games under another name.)

I haven't been this appalled in the taste of others since a handful of people told me how great that goon James Blake was.

Apparently Lana Del Rey has an incredible voice and is sexy and beautiful and has powerful songs. I'm not seeing or hearing any of that.

My afternoon watching Lana Del Rey clips, trying to decipher a way in; trying to see why someone might like this - beyond the obvious: poor taste - was a waste. And it sent me (all but screaming) back to this clip of Nicole Atkins.

That is an example of a class act. That is a modern-day torch singer. Lana Del Rey is a Grotesque that Elizabeth Grant has had created for her; a garish amalgam of half-ideas whose aim is to be snapped up by Adele fans and Florence + The Machine fans. It would almost be a redeeming feature if in fact under the new hairstyle there was a zip. A peel-off costume that the old Lizzy Grant steps in and out of just to try to make a buck - yes, that would be more appealing than the surgery and name change and phoned-in (or I guess texted-in) vapidity.

So, consider this my Christmas gift to you. I've either just warned you off the biggest mistake you could have made, music-wise, in 2012. Or I've given you an early heads-up for an artist you'll be keen to make your new favourite; someone you weren't aware of before reading this even? Perhaps.

But I have to call bulls**t on this; I am calling artistic fraud - tantamount to charlatanism. There's nothing to see - or hear - here. You should move on. Lana Del Rey is nothing. She will shortly be touted as everything.

Go buy a Nicole Atkins CD instead. Or go back to Anita O'Day. Buy anything - but don't buy this. This isn't music. This doesn't mean anything. This is a concoction. They're trying to push a tagline that she's the "gangsta Nancy Sinatra". You are being insulted by being pitched such tripe. You are insulting yourself further by buying into it. And as one wag said already, surely Nancy Sinatra was the "gangsta Nancy Sinatra" given her dad's buddies.

But you will buy this. You will buy Lana Del Rey and it will be your summer album of 2012. And you'll be in on the ground-level before she really becomes huge and is everywhere. I'm trying to save you that disgrace - and many others. This is not music that is worth it. That Video Games song is nothing to get excited about. It is in fact nothing - or certainly very close to it. There's no melody and no heart and no soul in her voice or her songs.

Postscript: Click here to read a recent Pitchfork report of a live Lana Del Rey gig. The attitude she gives off - a mix of complacency and arrogance - will be included in the rewritten version of her marketing hype when the album is released. It will be (another) part of her gimmick.

Postscript II: We have music-making bored daughters of millionaires in New Zealand too. We pay for their music videos shot in Cuba.

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136 comments
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Jonny   #1   11:30 am Dec 21 2011

Pt 1/2. This is the thing, man. I heard 'Video Games' with no context. It was on the radio. I had no idea who the singer was, what her 'story' was, or even what era the song was from. I certainly didn't know I was supposed to feel bad, or at least conflicted, about having an honest reaction to it. I did not know there had been Vampire Weekend-levels of hipster handwringing over this artist. I did not know that this singer was an artificial Frankenstein's popster of the type I've been known to rail against. And she is. A backward-looking, mix-one-part-Marlene-Dietrich-with-two-parts-Nancy-Sinatra construct. She can seem ill-at-ease with it as well. Oh, and she's an awkward performer with what appears to be a limited range. Big deal.

She's invented a personae, given herself a stage name, adopted a singing style and chased a buck. If you object to Lana Del Rey using these tactics on principle, then throw away your Dylan (Robert Zimmerman), Guns N' Roses (feat. Saul Hudson and Bill Bailey) and Wu-Tang (...oh you get the idea) records. I see little substantive difference between the marketing of Lana Del Rey and anyone else. (I didn't say NONE, Internet, I said little.) Maybe she's been pushed and prodded more than those specific guys, but so was Marianne Faithfull (real name!) etc. etc. etc. Man, this is going to get so boring by the time her album comes out.

Lucas04   #2   11:31 am Dec 21 2011

I guess that's the thing with 'art', which music is a part of. Something one person finds amazing can make others want to vomit, or fall asleep.

Most of the music I really love is either a track from a popular band that ended up on their album, but never made it as a single - or is simply from a band/artist hardly anyone has heard from!

Jonny   #3   11:31 am Dec 21 2011

PT 2/2 Anyway, calling her out for having a cohesive marketing strategy behind her is not an act of iconoclasm. It's an obvious and obsolete observation, but if it gives you the thrill of thinking you've spotted that the emperor is naked... well bully for you, but we grown-ups are over all that.

What about about the music? Well, 'Video Games' and 'Born To Die' are, to my ears, little melodramatic wonders. I love the way the strings are treated. I love the way her voice flattens on lower notes. I love the changes and melodies that I'm told are 'simple' and 'nothing amazing'. I love the rhyme of 'sundress/ undressed' in 'Video Games' (and the whole pitch and roll of that line). I love how 'Born To Die' starts with 'Feet don't fail me now', a phrase I associate with Donald Duck comics for some reason, and which sparks a miniature synaptic firestorm of poignancy, nostalgia, innocence, fun... Something about those songs simply resonates with me. They hit certain neural buttons for me the way doo-wop, old Disney cartoon scores and certain Townes Van Zandt verses do.

I listened to 'Video Games' about a dozen times after that first hearing, and I'm still listening to it. Why would I let the wider world's rather predictable obsession with her looks and its adolescent griping about 'authenticity' get in the way of me enjoying some good music? You can all keep your by-the-numbers righteous indignation. With music this good, I've got no trouble drowning it out.

Chris Philpott   #4   11:32 am Dec 21 2011

I'm Chris Philpott, and I endorse this blog post.

Lana Del Rey's "Video Games" is what would happen if someone tried to intentionally write a song for the inevitable musical montage on a season finale of Grey's Anatomy.

Dan T   #5   11:32 am Dec 21 2011

This is, of course, how many of us feel about Kimbra.

Taken from gospel acoustic sing-songs to sexed-up over-hyped contrivance.

Si   #6   11:33 am Dec 21 2011

Never heard of her.

Bobbyfranc   #7   11:39 am Dec 21 2011

Your such a bubble burster Simon.

chancies   #8   11:47 am Dec 21 2011

totally agree - both her and her music are incredibly boring and bland.

m.s.p   #9   11:48 am Dec 21 2011

Just listened to it. Hadn't heard her before. I dunno...I quite liked it. Sexy voice. It sounds like something off Ryan Adams' 'Gold' album. I certainly wouldn't punch anyone if they put it on..

glen   #10   11:50 am Dec 21 2011

after reading your blog on the best song, i went on the hunt to see who this Lana Del Ray was. I share your sentiments. it was a bit like a looping drawl. no spark, no hook. a loss of four valuable minutes. she will disappear as quickly as the winner of american x factor idol


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