Putting Things In Perspective: A Look at Lana Del Rey
by Charissa Lock @charissalock
There are some things in this world that are either strongly hated or loved, with no in between. Dry, British humor is one of them – watching Monty Python will leave you either in hysterics or tears of misery. George W. Bush is another one that comes to mind (no further explanation necessary). Recently, there has been someone new added to this list for all the world to make their own personal judgments. Her name is Lana Del Rey (aka Lizzy Grant aka Elizabeth Grant) and if you know who she is, you’re either seething in hatred about to list all the reasons why you hate her soul or you’re getting ready to spout back defensive proclamations.
People are surer of their feelings about Lana Del Rey than they are about God. The reason might be a philosophical predicament due to so many things in life being out of our control (the government, environment, etc.) that when something, or someone, comes along that you can make a definite verdict, you instantly have strong feelings. Or, just random workings of the world, either way it’s important to know you are not alone.
A lot of the commotion about this Lana Del Ray character stems from the fact she went from being held in high regard by indie music fans and when they discovered she was aiming for the mainstream pop world, they lost interest. Before defending their reason for doing so, I do want to add that after listening to “Off To The Races” (final track off her EP) I would never think “indie” I think Britney Spears meets Ke$ha in a sleazy LA nightclub. However, I do understand why the move from indie to mainstream is a real downer. As an indie artist there’s an acceptance of her voice being different and edgy and there’s more freedom and possibility for her to grow into something. However, now that we know her intent is mainstream pop, she will be more likely to settle in this weird style that she has created with less motivation for growth. Because face it, who wants to work on growth when the preorders for her album on Amazon make Born To Die number #37 before even being released.
The most unbiased I can be will still contain amounts of skepticism and negativity and if you’re a Lana fan, then all I ask is for you to just hear me out. I appreciate that in some instances she has went with her retro Petula Clark/Lulu feel to her voice by portraying this style in both her Born To Die album cover and “Video Games” music video. However, her voice only holds on to that style about 60% of the tracks off of the full-length album and 30% for the continuation through each of those songs. I become more frustrated with trying to figure out what she is trying to produce in her songs, what voice she is wanting to find, what mood we should be in while listening, and if were supposed to be seduced, impressed, or wanting to “run away from the cops in our black bikini tops yelling ‘Get us while we’re hot,” (“This is What Makes Us Girls”). Okay, so most likely not the latter, though she does state that “this is what makes us girls,” (I’ve never had any desire to do the above). In every track, I feel this deep sense of confusion over how she wants the audience to be affected and this bothers me. I’m sure she’s trying to mix it up and combine retro vocals with 21st century pop music and speak-singing, which might be her “thing,” but as mere humans, we need to define things and the lack of definition causes an unsettling feeling. That is how this album leaves me, unsettled.
Of course, I have a severe dislike towards female pop artists like Ke$ha and I keep comparing songs and/or portions of songs off of Born To Die to “singers” like her. Especially the lyrics, which are supposed to be “dark and moody” (article I recently read), but just seem more lame and cliché of our sad 21st century pop lyrics, “Kiss me in the D-A-R-K tonight. Do it my way,” (“Lolita”) and, “Money is the reason we exist, everybody knows it’s a fact (kiss, kiss)” (“National Anthem”). I now feel like I have to wash out my brain with Max Bemis ideologies.
People may be excited because she’s not rapping, and she can sing and not just talk. For female pop artists these days, we know this is hard to come by. However, I think those in favor are just far too amped and excited without actually listening to important factors like lyrics, and vocals. I also think because she does have that retro, deep voice and (sometimes) is portraying herself as a glamorous 1960s female artist, they are proud that they like someone who isn’t Nicki Minaj.
Since the release on Tuesday (January 31st), I don’t think Born To Die is up to the standards people were expecting due to her musical identity crisis. I hope that Lana Del Rey finds herself a specific identity and can really focus and flourish with it. I may not necessarily enjoy where she may go, but I desperately want her to find herself.
I now must listen to “Admit It!”