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Lana Del Rey's Internet Ambition: Smackdown

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Critics and bloggers have roasted singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey for her lack of “indie cred” and an underwhelming performance on Saturday Night Live. But her detractors can’t stop talking about her – and her album is selling well on iTunes. We debate this image-conscious Internet sensation – and learn more about her backstory with Chicago-based rock columnist Jessica Hopper and Washington Post pop music critic Chris Richards.


Jessica Hopper and Chris Richards

Comments [44]

Jim from Virginia

Jessica Hopper seems to find sexism and racism in pretty much everything. Remember how Stephin Merritt was apparently a racist for not adding enough black artists to his playlist? Can't people have an idea of what they like or don't like without underlying illicit motivations?

And really... watch her live performances, and truly try to defend her talent. It takes a lot of work to do...

Mar. 19 2012 03:47 PM
kevin from upper LS

chris richards is a soulless goonbag.

Feb. 28 2012 09:38 PM

Tom LI

If you go to 12-step groups for any length of time you will find out most addictions seem to be established by 12 or 13 - nothing implausible to me about getting sober after that many years of addiction

Feb. 28 2012 08:14 PM
tom LI

one more comment after reading the SPIN article...

Really she got sober at 18? Not buying it...sounds like another 20 something over hyping their teen life to sound more serious. (yeah I know a teen can be a true drunkard/addict....but Im not buying it after reading that apology piece.) I hear it all the time from the 20'ers around me...over-inflating their vices to sound so much more than they are...

Feb. 28 2012 06:47 PM

Please allow me to set the record straight - she does NOT have a rich dad! I met her when she was 4 years old - and guess what she was doing? SINGING!!! I don't know what brings out all this nastiness. They LOOOOOVE her in the UK. I am embarrassed for all of you haters who don't know waht the heck you are talking about!

Feb. 28 2012 06:43 PM
tom LI

I understand the notion behind "not yet fully formed"...but I see an inherent trouble with that idea. Are we really going to care about those artists who take several transformations till they reach an audience, and what sort of audience will that be?

Look at the Iconic bands, and musicians - they pretty much hit the ground running with their Sound and Form. They didnt put out a bunch of songs and albums figuring it out. Why? They were truly talented and thats where the Fully Formed Artist truly originates.

IMO. this artist is merely wanting to be one, but is not one in her heart and we see so much of these days. Wannabe's. Look to all the Talent TV shows...

Feb. 28 2012 06:38 PM
Wayne Johnson Ph.D. from Bk

Ms. Hopper mentioned that Ms.Del Ray may be the victim of sexism. What's the evidence for this? Who is dominating the performance aspect of the music industry now: Lady Ga Ga, Adele, Rihanna. This kind of reflexive feminism needs to be challenged because it comes up a lot and gets taken for granted.

Feb. 28 2012 03:28 PM
William from Manhattan

Most people obsessed with "authenticity" seems to lake any themselves. Look the posers in any hipster club. And what's authentic about Madonna, or Prince or any of the middle class Hip Hop guys from Long Island (and elsewhere) who pretend to be bad inner city gangstas. Let's go to the most "authentic" one of all, Bob Zimmerman, who, as a dedicated poser, appropriated the name of a middling poet to robe himself in that aura (indeed, he succeeded as a middling poet); a middle class Jewish guy who pretended to be the drawling Hillbilly heir to Woody Guthrie. He constantly lied about himself, then lied about lieing, always preaching to the Church of What's Happening Now. Singing talent? Bobby Zimmerman? The proud signature of Indie Rock is lack of singing talent. Nobody's attacking these artists . . . So you don't like her. How many of you have lived in a trailer park?

(I respect the late Dylan, but the youthful marketing expert is a bore.)

Feb. 28 2012 02:46 PM
John A.

Did sound pretty good: nuanced, has a range, complex.
Perhaps a case of Internet bullying?
"Born to Die" as a label for herself sounds rather emo.
Also: counter to trend? There are a lot of woman acts that use dominance and not femininity as the approach nowadays.

Feb. 28 2012 02:44 PM

i'm making a bigger point, that is beside the fact, as to whether or not she is good.

Feb. 28 2012 02:43 PM

john from the office- gargle with some drano, for that acid reflux. i can't be expected to keep wiping my screen,every time you send that posting.

Feb. 28 2012 02:37 PM


oh...uhm... was the radio on??

Feb. 28 2012 02:36 PM

imagine the shy kid, who once upon a time, could develop in relative anonymity. in time, becoming, someone we think of as great today. perhaps,long after their death. illfg-you have no heart or soul.. it's sick, the way we deal with people. the "trolletariatte" class,rears it's ugly head yet again. in time, we are only going to get, the most mercenary thick skinned artists, because they will be the only one's who can deal with this TMZ world.

Feb. 28 2012 02:34 PM
Ben from Westchester

Here's the beauty of the Internet -- this Lana Del Rey apologist you have on the show defended her SNL performance by saying "three days later, on Letterman, she killed it!" So I quickly called up the Letterman show and listened to it.

The Letterman performance was one that would have been absolutely great -- at a college coffee house. I think what people don't like about Lana Del Ray is that she has nowhere near the talent to be on SNL or on Letterman. It just isn't music that stays with you in any way whatsoever.

To compare her singing with Amy Winehouse, who had actual talent and a voice and style that hung with you -- it just makes your whole argument sound like you are either deaf, deranged, or on the payroll.

Feb. 28 2012 02:31 PM

I don't know where people get the idea this is music for kids. She's in rotation at WFUV and WXPK. Whatever that demographic is, it ain't pre-teens.

Feb. 28 2012 02:29 PM
Dan f from Red Bank

I was astonished when I finally heard Lana Del Ray's SNL performance. Why? Because it wasn't that bad! There are plenty of recent SNL performances that were just awful, I have no idea why she's been singled out. Some kind of mob-blog mentality I guess. Too bad.

Feb. 28 2012 02:28 PM
Matthew from Rockland NY

Number 1, Chris whoever he is, obviously just doesn't like her, which is fine, but his opinion means zero to this conversation, and his asides are annoying (I can't be alone on this). New York Post, really?

Number 2, Lana's music is more of a modern and post rock style, which doesn't thrill a lot of people, as I am sure Jazz didn't thrill people when it came out, as rock and roll was controversial when it was new. Either way, she is obviously a talented person, and some of her music is not just good, its great.

Feb. 28 2012 02:28 PM
john from office


Feb. 28 2012 02:28 PM
Erica P from NJ (exilium)

Nuance?!? Did I hear Jessica Hooper correctly?

I find her to be insipid and completely without subtlety, either in performance or songwriting. It isn't even as if she's ambitious and failing at that. The bar is low and she's tripping over it.

The uproar, backlash, whatever you want to call it, is ridiculous. She's just as manufactured as Lady Gaga, who's also useless, but with more calculation, audacity and an even bigger audience.

Feb. 28 2012 02:27 PM

at best she sounds kind of like Jewel's early work. at worst she sounds like herself

Feb. 28 2012 02:27 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I actually think her music is interesting - what I've heard - but her live performance on SNL was pretty bad. She was just trying WAY too hard with all of the high and low singing and performance affectation. I don't get why SNL booked her when many other artists who have been at it longer - and could benefit from the exposure - could've put on a much better performance.

As for her name/schtick - if anyone complains about "authenticity" see Gaga, Lady.

Feb. 28 2012 02:25 PM

blah blah blah, make all the excuses for her you want. she is uninteresting and it shows.

Feb. 28 2012 02:24 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Artists change names all the time but hers seemed a bit dubious. Her having a rich and connected dad doesn't help.

Feb. 28 2012 02:23 PM

why the hell does everyone, "have to sing" . is it all about having chops and blowing the roof off. that's pretty sad. the vocal virtuoso, has it's place,but whatever happened to unique talent with a message?

Feb. 28 2012 02:22 PM
Frank from Newark

She sucks!!! John, your show is slippin, stop with this madness..she's a KID..

Feb. 28 2012 02:22 PM
Jeff from Chinatown from Lower Manhattan

It seems to me that each song in "Born to Die" is like a mini short story...or a chapter in a novel. She's writing songs about characters who are not necessarily her. Why are people are so upset about her 'autheticity?' If she was an author would we criticize her for not being like her characters? If she was an actress would we criticize her for playing characters who may or may not be like her. Whoever Lizzy Grant is in real life it seems to me that she's just putting her art out there in an authentic way. I like the way her music sounds retro (like 1960's movie soundtracks) and mocdern at the same time.

Feb. 28 2012 02:21 PM
Rosey from Norwalk, CT

Cat Power knock-off??

Feb. 28 2012 02:21 PM
bib from manhattan

is this a show for pre-teens? what is this music? nobody in the npr demographic is likely to know what this is unless they have young children with poor musical taste. it's awful and a huge waste of time. ew.

Feb. 28 2012 02:18 PM
Chriss from Montclair, NJ

I won't go as far as Bill from NYC, but I've been humming "Videogames" for months... And she directed the video for it (they say).

God Bless young girls.

For some though, I guess long-haired boys, playing 3 chords and singing out of tune is more "authentic."

Feb. 28 2012 02:16 PM

Her music doesn't do anything for me, but the "Saturday Night Live" response is very interesting to me. Her appearance was kind of bookended by Florence & The Machine and Sleigh Bells on SNL; I thought Florence's performance was even more off-pitch than Lana, and Alexis Krauss' voice was weak and lost in the Sleigh Bells' din. I thought all 3 were horrible, frankly. Why Lana gets all the heat & the other 2 escape it is beyond me.

Feb. 28 2012 02:16 PM
Ellen from Brooklyn

Really, you have to do a show on this? Hasn't everything been said about her a million times already? She's like one of the Kardashians now. I just don't want to hear about her anymore one way or the other. Please keep this segment short.

Feb. 28 2012 02:13 PM
Rosey from norwalk, ct

The bottom line for me is that her performance on SNL was Boring!I found it very unappealing.

Feb. 28 2012 02:12 PM
K from Mamaroneck

I think she has a good voice. And I don't care that she used Youtube to launch her career. Good for her. But romantic lyrics? Pfft. I feel like I used to read lyrics like this in my classmates poetry assignments. When I was 11.

Also, curse you, WNYC for playing that clip over and over again and planting this terrible ear worm of a song in my head!

Feb. 28 2012 02:12 PM
Willie Wolf from Greenpoing

I've been trying to figure why everybody's talking about her. Ignore her, and she'll go away.

Feb. 28 2012 02:10 PM
Mike E. Flood from Rockaway

The same old Ish when Joss Stone was being pushed it made me sick.
The same thing when the machine gets behind a artist it can be sickening.

Feb. 28 2012 02:10 PM

young girls have no taste.

Feb. 28 2012 02:10 PM

if you cant pull it off live then you are just fluff.

Feb. 28 2012 02:09 PM


Feb. 28 2012 02:08 PM
Francisco from LA

What up with that? What up with that?

Not enough bang if she's going the "shock and awe" route. She could contact Madonna's peeps.

Feb. 28 2012 02:06 PM
Jennifer from Brooklyn NY

PS - As far as i could tell she can't sing

Feb. 28 2012 02:06 PM
Jennifer from Brooklyn NY

Neither interesting nor fluff. Just a not very talented girl thrust into the spotlight thanks to the sensation that a digital presence can create. Not that that's always a bad thing.
She is completely undeveloped as an artist. And does not yet if ever deserve our attention
Saturday night live was embarrassing

Feb. 28 2012 02:05 PM
Brett from wburg

Seth Myers should dedicate a "Really" segment Del Ray's appearence. "This is type of act that books SNL in 2012? Really???"

Feb. 28 2012 01:16 PM

just saw SNL video: i like it,it's different. i agree with the first comment.

Feb. 28 2012 12:44 PM
Bill from NYC

Although her performance on SNL was awkward and disappointing (looked to me like some stage fright combined with not being a live performance oriented musician), her music is dark, interesting, and brilliantly written. Because her music is not sugary pop and never clocks in at a radio-friendly 2.5 minutes, she doesn't resonate with mainstream listeners. I find Del Ray's music rich, layered, and beautiful. It reminds me of Mazzy Star meets David Lynch soundtrack.

Feb. 28 2012 11:08 AM

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