I used to pride myself on my broad, in-depth knowledge of pop culture. You play any song, and I could name the artist, title, album, and approximate release date. I’ll name that tune in two notes, George.
In the last couple of years, though, it’s become painfully clear to me just how out of touch I’ve fallen. Part of the problem (for me) is that people just don’t get music the same way anymore. I acquired much of my musical knowledge from watching epic countdowns on VH1, MTV, MuchMusic and Fuse back in the day. Shows like Alternative Nation and 120 Minutes helped to keep me clued in, and PopUp Video and Behind the Music gave me all of the behind-the-scene details I needed.
My friends exchanged mix tapes and cds. Do people do that anymore? Or do they just link to playlists on Spotify and Rdio?
Despite being relatively clueless about the current state of pop music, there have been a few acts I haven’t been able to escape:
- Justin Bieber
- Nikki Minaj
- Mumford and Sons
- Florence and the Machine
And then the name that’s been just about everywhere lately: Lana Del Rey. What struck me as particularly odd about Lana Del Rey, however, is that I wasn’t ever hearing her music. And no one was talking about her music. It was always about how much everyone hates Lana Del Rey.
After about two weeks of hearing one story after another about how “controversial” Lana is, and how “everyone” despises her, I couldn’t help but wonder, what the hell did this girl do? So I did what any curious person with internet access would do: I googled “Why does everyone hate Lana Del Rey?”
This article from Good Culture does an alright job of breaking the issue down. It isn’t “everyone” who hates Lana Del Rey. It’s indie music that can’t stand her. And apparently, indie music hates her because she’s “inauthentic”.
Ohhh man. Just reading that sentence sent me into a fit of laughter. “Inauthentic”. “Indie music”. Hahahahahahaha. But wait. It gets better. The Good Culture piece links to this gem on Hipster Runoff (“Hipster Runoff”??! Hahahahaha. Seriously?). Now, even if I were to look beyond the author’s apparent opposition to vowel usage (“LANA DEL REY: EXPOSED. B4 she was alt, she was a failed mnstrm artist without fake lips”), this piece would kill me. All at once, the author asserts:
In a world where Best Coast is celebrated for being ‘pro-women’ and ‘empowering’, Lana Del Rey is a massive step back for the anti-cyberbullying feminist movement within indie rock. Her career works against the indie ideals that if you are ‘talented enough’, u can make it. She repackaged herself as a brunette with collagen filled lips packaged as a lofi diy broad.
Lana Del Rey will be the most divisive indie artist in years, and she will put the blogosphere thru many of our biggest challenges. Who will choose to ‘cover’ her? What blogs will be ‘simple’ enough to hype her manufactured indie pop sugar? Who will ‘pan’ LanaBB? Who will be a coward and say “It doesn’t matter where she comes from and what she looks like. She makes good music, and that’s all that matters”?
And the author says this without the slightest hint of irony. So, lemme get this straight. Lana Del Rey is a horrible, shallow human being because she changed her appearance and was “rebranded” in order to be successful…so we should punish her by focusing on her appearance, regardless of whether she makes good music or not?
You know, it was funny the first time I read it, but now I just have a headache. I get that Lana Del Rey has had given some questionable performances. She’s been lambasted for her lukewarm performances on SNL last month:
It’s not like anyone else has given an atrocious performance on SNL, though, right?
For comparison, here’s a song recorded by Lizzy Grant (pre-makeover):
Unfortunately, Del Rey represents a delicate balance in pop culture that is absolutely necessary, especially to those who need something to blog about. She’s not Top 40 and yet not Pitchfork-approved either, which, instead of developing a crossover appeal from hipsters and non-hipsters alike, has translated instead to intense bickering between, basically, people who have too much time on their hands and people who have way too much time on their hands (a/k/a “Internet trolls”).
Personally, I’m liking her sound, regardless of her haircolor or how big her lips are. I think it’s idiotic at best to hold an artist accountable for any potential shallowness of the listeners. After all, it isn’t Lana’s sound that has changed. If people weren’t interested in her music before, because she didn’t look “indie” enough, but now they’re all about her because she’s “hot”, that’s on them, not her. Apparently “authenticity” has nothing to do with the music. :sigh: So what do you guys think? Is Lana Del Rey the most divisive artist to hit the airwaves in quite some time? Or is it these indie bloggers who are being divisive? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.
Edit: If you’re looking to criticize Lana Del Rey, this is the way it’s done.