Blog Post

Internet chanteuse Lana Del Rey: Pros & Cons

The internet-era chanteuse Lana Del Rey is the subject of much speculation, consternation and affection. Anyone who cares about the odd little independent music subculture I exist inas odd, I'd venture, as the academic subculture—is a twitter about her. 

Is she "real"? Is she "fake"? What do those words even mean anymore? How can something be authentic in a world of copy/paste; "I posted it on my blog"; and comment trolls who turn any notions of "sincerity" and "meaning" into concepts with as much weight as the term "compassion" has to a genocidal maniac?

What follows is my evaluation following her recent performance on Jools Holland's popular and buzzmaking British television show. For many performers an appearance on the program is the kick off to the short buzzy part of long career in semi-popular music. Artists perform on it live, both in front of a studio audience and abutted by sets before and/or after by several other au curant artists—a scary concept, indeed, for any internet phenomn whose music may sound tinnier and less forceful in the real world than in the "fix it in the mix" world of computer recordings.

PRO: Last night's live debut on Jools Holland was not a trainwreck.

CON: The music that hasn't gone super viral yet kind of sucks. So her major career risk may not be trainwreckage. It may be abortion.

PRO: She* Tweeted this on October 7th: "Just as Debussy had to leave the sea to be inspired by its beauty for his melodies- I too must leave you so that the songs remain sweet"

CON: On a deep level, I am 100% certain her whole act is fake and contrived.

PRO: Sometimes fake & contrived is exactly what the culture calls for.

CON: Those lips! It's like her handler svengali conflated old school Phil Spector and new school Phil Spector as if they were the same person.

PRO: From a postmodern perspective, what's wrong with conflating old school and new school Phil Spector as a way of evolving pop music into a new future.

PRO: The actual video for "Video Games" is even better.

The Pros have it! For now...

* = By "She" I am referring to a yet-unknown handler svengali.

Alec Hanley Bemis's picture

Alec Hanley Bemis lives in Brooklyn, NY but spends a lot of time in California. He obtained his B.A. in History from Yale University. His writing has appeared in LA Weekly, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Spin,, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. In 2001, he co-founded Brassland, a record label that documents the work of a growing community of musicians, including The National and Nico Muhly. Currently he continues to run Brassland, consults for the UK-based music company All Tomorrow's Parties, co-manages The Dirty Projectors, and acts as general manager at Cantaloupe Music. In the past, he has taught in New York University's graduate journalism program, produced projects for the new media-design firm, Funny Garbage, and written for Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve.