I’m about to buy Lana Del Rey’s album, which came out yesterday, mostly to spite the media, which is telling me I shouldn’t do it.
A few weeks ago, I bought the EP, and I listen to it every day. I don’t know if it’s because I have terrible taste in music, or because, by admitting that I do, I’m impervious the endless, unerring critical noise about how awful she is. But I like it, and I like her, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I’ve been waiting to read something, ANYTHING different about Lana besides the whining and half-assed critical dissections into feminist theory. And then, Sasha Frere Jones, whom I generally find to be a condescending bastard, wrote a really interesting piece about her in this week’s New Yorker.
He makes two points that I sum up exactly my thoughts about her two most contentious points—her performances and her “authenticity.”
1. Del Rey is not likely to be good onstage, but this puts her in the company of about fifty per cent of recording artists.
YES! One time, I actually saw Fiona Apple perform at a New Yorker festival talk with Sasha Frere Jones himself, and it was so awkward that I carved ‘I hate people’ in my right forearm with my fingernails. And another time, I saw Cat Power perform (she is the absolute worst example), and it was so uncomfortable that I peed in my own pants for relief. At least Lana Del Rey can make it through a song, even if that song is off-pitch and emotionally flat.
2. The debates that surround authenticity have no relationship to popular music as it’s been practiced for more than a century. Artists write material, alone or with assistance, revise it, and then present a final work created with the help of professionals who are trained for specific and relevant production tasks. This makes popular music similar to film, television, visual art, books, dance, and related areas like food and fashion.
Then he goes on to say, Lana Del Rey does not deserve your furor, because she’s exceedingly forgettable, or something more eloquent than that. Which is exactly what I said when I made Lana my Icon of The Week a few weeks back.
I’m excited to see what other people have to say. In the meantime, I know both Shark and Back of House are obsessed with it, and I can’t wait to get on my bike again this afternoon to listen to it myself.