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  • Lana Del Rey 2011
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Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey’s mythos runs deep. The music-blog lightning rod and human California-culture personification can’t (or won’t) even upload a video of herself singing an acoustic song in a crappy carpeted room without all of us projecting our biases upon it. This performance clip might strip down her track “Blue Jeans” to just voice and guitar, but it’s still filmed in glammed-out fake-vintage Hipstamatic style, and she still Betty Boops her way all through it. Also, when Lana Del Rey goes barefoot, it doesn’t exactly seem like a comfort-based decision, you know?

Anyway, if you already hate Lana Del Rey, you will almost certainly see this video as further evidence of the indie underground’s self-conscious slippage toward E!-network reality-show fodder, or of music blogs’ willingness to post anything featuring pretty girls, even if those pretty girls are demonstrably awful people. And if you like Lana Del Rey, you’ll note that “Blue Jeans” remains a pretty great song even with its languid strings gone, and you’ll admire Del Rey’s ability to play around with her own symbolism even in a seemingly innocuous video like this one. Reinforce your opinion below.

Let’s keep this argument going!

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Comments (59)
  1. Admittedly it’s not a bad pop song, but I would probably be less hostile about it if “Lana Del Ray” was a character in a film and this was a song off its soundtrack. Everything looks so contrived (is this really a live video or one that’s meant to look live) and like she’s dressing the part and acting while she’s singing.

    • ….Which is what I like about it. Indie rock could really use a few more characters.

      • I’m going to have to politely disagree with that statement. Music should be about music and not gimmicks or playing a role to grab attention. I don’t believe many people like myself would be so skeptical of her if she was content just being herself. Sure, musicians record under fake names but this goes well beyond that. I thought the point of indie rock was that you could be the awkward, unpopular kid in class who could overcome the odds by letting your music speak for itself?

        • I think the music does speak for itself.
          They’re good songs.

          • Like I said, they’re not bad. From what I gather, she has some really good producers working with her who have worked with the likes of McCartney, so I’m assuming they’re the ones making this sound good. It offends me that she’s being called “indie rock,” though (and I’m aware of how far that label has been stretched over the year) which would put her in the same category as someone like Joanna Newsom who didn’t pull these aesthetic stunts. The truth is that she’s signed to Island Records (see here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/TBC-Lana-Del-Rey/dp/B005QJZ5FA/) so she’s mainstream pop — which in turn makes all this commercial appeal more forgivable. But please, let’s stop saying she’s “indie rock.” I think that label has been dirtied enough over the past several years.

        • um, joanna newsom is a character too (and she’s certainly concerned with aesthetics), so are the strokes, so is the boss — david bowie had about a dozen characters. if you think bruce springsteen is just “being himself” you don’t really understand how culture operates. music is never “just music,” it’s wrapped up in a thousand other concerns (image and performativity are pretty central) and mediated through a variety of outlets. if anything, “awkward, unpopular kid” is the character most in need of being abandoned. if the “awkward, unpopular kid” archetype helps you feel better about your identity, that’s great, but don’t broadly apply it to “indie rock”.

          • None of those musicians you mentioned were ever part of the indie rock scene. They didn’t pour their blood and sweat into their shows like Black Flag, Sonic Youth and Minor Threat did while making next to nothing. Those musicians were all were all pre-packaged musicians signed to major labels right off the bat with huge amounts of cash flow to back up their theatrics and success. And what is Joanna Newsom’s character exactly? That she’s a pretty face with a peculiar voice and has a decent taste in fashion? Last time I checked, that was mostly all female indie musicians.

            Agree to disagree (but I know I’m right.)

          • haha, the whole point of the boss is that he “pours his blood and sweat” into his shows, and has been for decades, but ok, you only care about your sacred indie gods, that’s cool. i could argue with you that sonic youth has employed a variety of characters and roles and gimmicks throughout their career (fashion impresario and avant-garde curator come to mind), but your impression of what “authenticity” is won’t ever change i’m sure — more importantly, why are you here? this is a site that reports on lana del ray and joyfully embraces beyonce (as it should), stereogum might not be the ‘authentic indie community’ you so desire…

          • Michael_  |   Posted on Oct 11th, 2011 +2

            I love Springsteen and I’ve seen plenty of his concerts to know how much effort he pours into them, but he’s also charging $200 a ticket for a seat at one of his arena concerts so he better put on a good show. As for your pot shot at Sonic Youth, they spent years in the NYC underground making next to nothing on SST. They worked to get onto Geffen. That’s the difference between your version of authenticity and mine: I think musicians have to earn it through touring and proving to me why I should listen to them, and not be pre-packaged with a nice little Pitchfork BNM bow on top of it that says, “Doesn’t she look so cool? Listen to her!” She has one song and a b-side. Once she tours across the entire country and puts out a proper album, we can discuss how authentic she is. She’s done literally nothing to date.

            So why am I here? Because I have a heck of an opinion about music and I’ve every right to share it just like you are doing now. Welcome to the cult of personality, kid…

          • Michael,
            Your fixation on a band or artist being legitimate based on working the road doesn’t work at all. The bands you listed (Minor Threat, Black Flag, Sonic Youth) all chose a style of music that was far from mainstream, therefore they accepted a limited fanbase which, if committed to music as a career, dictates that lifestyle.
            Your other examples (Springsteen, Bowie) had more mass appeal and were ushered through a system designed to satisfy the expected demand based on tremendous talent.
            The reality is the talent will always rise to the top, but the success and exposure will be limited to how much mass appeal the genre has. So Black Flag is one of the most successful hardcore bands with limited appeal, and i’d say the band cares far less about that than you do.
            Del Rey wouldn’t be talked about if the songs (three, by the way, with one b-side) didn’t back up however the hell she or anyone else wants to present her. And I can qualify that by saying that because I have a heck of an opinion about music, which you may disagree with, so who is right and who isn’t.
            But i’m definitely right about the following: there are a lot of terrible bands working really hard on the road making really bad music, and I’d prefer to listed to Lana over those touring bands any day.
            The argument about touring vs. packaged is boring.

          • Michael_  |   Posted on Oct 11th, 2011 +2

            I think you’ll like my comment way down below much better. There’s so many layers to this discussion and I’m even having a hard time following it at this point. We can pick what has become the science of Lana Del Rey apart into so many directions. I find this entire topic of debate to be a bit educational, a bit aggravating, a bit funny but overall, interesting to cut open and compare to trends of the past and present, varying levels of success and other standards of the music industry (and I agree with your statements about the hardcore bands.)

          • @Paul H
            I don’t understand why it’s okay to listen to one bland artist over the other just because she is “better” than some other acts out there. I don’t want to waste my time with her when I can listen to something way more enjoyable. I will just put on some classics before I replay some of her songs. I am really trying to find something I like about her because there must be something about her music that people like that generates the hype but I haven’t found it yet. Not counting these recent singles, can someone tell me what is a really good song by her?

          • @martel04
            If you don’t want to waste your time with what you feel is her bland material that’s perfectly acceptable, and it would be foolish to try to convince you otherwise. When I forwarded or played her songs for a few others, the immediate reaction was as positive as mine, but clearly that wasn’t the case with you. There is no right or wrong here.

            The music works like a score set to what is clearly a calculated image, which is fine because the combination is complimentary. That said, I do feel the score is a success on its own.

            At 24, she may at least be proving herself to be one of the more savvy manipulators of modern internet and culture.

        • please look around. The “awkward, unpopular kid in class” is the basis of countless bands out there. It is the most overplayed role in music. So to say that Lana DelRey is bad because she falls into a character is pretty contradictory.

          • Michael_,

            “Those musicians were all were all pre-packaged musicians signed to major labels right off the bat with huge amounts of cash flow to back up their theatrics and success.”

            This statement is unfounded bullshit. For example, the Strokes sent a demo to Rough Trade (an indie label) and were managed (to this day) by someone who used to work at a NY club were they played. Nothing prepackaged about that…that just sounds like an earned success story. Henry Rollins is one of the phoniest people in music.

  2. I love Lana, I love the 50′s vibe, the post-nostalgia she exhibits, but I wouldn’t like any of it if 1. she couldn’t sing, or 2. her songs were rubbish. She can and they’re not. I just read an interview with her in GQ and she came off totally unpretentious. I don’t get the E! Net reference or how she’s a “demonstrably awful” person. She couldn’t get arrested as Lizzy, so as Lana more power to her. Tori Amos had to go to England to reinvent herself so people would pay attention. That wasn’t a hollow gimmick, and neither is this persona.

  3. Wait, our opinion has shifted from “Yeah she’s fake” to “She’s an undeniably awful person”? When did this get so aggressive? I mean, she’s a corporate appeal to hipsters, but we can still just ignore her right?

    • I was exaggerating for effect there with the “demonstrably awful person” stuff, since I’m on the pro-Lana side of this particular argument. But I do see witch-hunt tendencies on the online discussion of her, and they bother me, especially since I think the songs all stand on their own. And as for the bits about how indie is supposed to be about being yourself, two things. One: “Indie rock” has become a catchall term for what used to be called “alternative music,” which was just as useless a descriptor. It’s more a cultural term than a musical one, and the puffiest of ’90s alt-pop (Natalie Imbruglia, say) would run a decent chance of being called “indie” if they emerged today. This is the world we live in (whoa-oh-oh). Two: Nobody in music is being him- or herself, at least not entirely. There’s always a certain amount of image-projection and character-invention at work, even in like Grizzly Bear or whatever, and LDR seems pretty virtuosic at that part of the game. That + Good songs = I like her.

      • I don’t subscribe to any theory about how an artist should act. Every act should be evaluated in its context, not thrown into the context of its contemporaries. That being said, what has come from Lana Del Rey has thus far not impressed me. Whatever I say might come off as posturing, but I keep looking for an “in,” something that really offsets Lana’s songwriting, and I’m not finding much. Of course, technically the song is decent and it’s not full of a lot of the tripe you find in “Modern Rock” but it didn’t hook me. Of course, Tune-yards didn’t hook me either, and I’m not going to deny that act’s innovations. It’s really a taste argument that I wish people didn’t stretch out into an “Us v. them” construct.

      • Jeez, and here I thought the point of sites like Stereogum was to defend “indie” music from continuing to spiral downward into a meaningless, commercialized term like they did to “emo” a decade ago. It says right at the top of the site: “Indie Music News, MP3 Downloads, Music Videos, Reviews.” If you really feel that the word “indie” is synonymous with Z100 FM radio pop, though, Tom, perhaps you should share these sentiments with the higher ups and consider removing the word “Indie” up there because I apparently have been misled for quite some time now.

          • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

          • Wow, you took it there! Fuck you, buddy. Sincerely.

          • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

          • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

          • wow really, tom’s the one who isn’t showing you respect after you bring his daughter into it? nice juan dude.

          • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

          • Michael_  |   Posted on Oct 10th, 2011 -6

            Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

        • Michael, your hole has been dug.

          Don’t bring up other people’s children as examples for anything. That’s just cold and heartless.

          • Michael_  |   Posted on Oct 10th, 2011 0

            For heaven’s sakes, it was a freaking joke and the fact that Tom once referred to me as “comment section buddy, Michael_” in a post gave me the impression he read my posts enough that he could understand the sarcasm. And why is it the only time I read a comment by you, you’re attacking me? Get over theduchessofthomyorke already. Even I know how to joke about it and judging by the fact that up until this post, all my comments had been steadily enjoyed with positive rankings (I even had two of last weeks “best” comments,) I don’t think my fellow commenters feel the same as you.

            Along with Andrew DeWaard, stop being an ambulance chaser. He made his point way up above so there was no need to come down here and hypocritically make things personal because that’s exactly what he is doing at this point and so are you.

          • Michael_, I don’t mean to call you out here, but you’re the one who keeps bringing theduchess up. And you might be taking this comment board thing a little too seriously.

  4. Pretty smart to get her prepped with a Euro tour before playing Los Angeles. Her Troubadour show is now sold out. That’s a lot of fans, press, tastemakers, label reps, film/tv supervisors, and hipster celebrities with high expectations. And Wilmer Valderrama is hard to impress.

    • That’s what I don’t like about it. People are pushing this image of her being something she’s not, a musician. She’s just a voice with fake lips and it’s really not interesting at all. Sometimes the music just speaks for itself and sometimes the music is defined by certain characteristics and styles, for good or bad. The video for Video Games was enough to show me her act is forced and uninspired. I’m just bothered by the mystery surrounding her when it’s more of just a cover up. Besides all that I really feel her voice is dull and full of imitation. She’s a little girl trying to wear a woman’s dress.

  5. Um. That’s not a live performance. The vocals (and maybe the guitars) have obviously been overdubbed in post.

  6. Great rendition though.

  7. Joanna Newsom btw is in fact indie folk oh and also Patrick wolf he is a character and he is indie

  8. Uneven vocal performance on an OK song.

  9. don’t people understand that this is the way it’s always been?

    • Michael_  |   Posted on Oct 11th, 2011 -3

      I suppose its the equivalent of an image-based singer like Amy Winehouse, which is nothing novel. I give credit to her PR team and label for all of this, which again I want to mention is looking like Island Records or some subsidiary of it. They’re doing a very good job at not letting the cat out of the bag that her debut will not be released on Matador or pick your indie label of choice and I fear some are expecting it to go down that way. I say that not as an “indie labels are good and major labels are bad” way or that mainstream, major labels are incapable of releasing good music, but her shtick is in capitalizing on our culture’s hunger for the obscure and competitively “discovering” music before the rest of the world, right? Hence the mystery about her identity, the limited amounts of shows at small venues and this entire magic show.

      Look, I love “Since U Been Gone” as much as the next person, an incredible song which was the product of a reality show contestant being molded into a distinct “just-like-you suburban white girl who was able to see her dreams come true” image. That’s Lana Del Rey, except the girl wears indie clothes (whatever that even means nowadays.) Nothing wrong with it, but just give it to me straight instead of all this cat and mouse game with fake live performances and so on. Tell me she wants to achieve the same level of mainstream success as Adele, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, because I’d much rather hear “Video Games” on the radio than LMFAO or what have you, but please don’t try to market her to me like I am a completely naive, idiot music consumer.

  10. Is this that chick that married the old dude from Green Mile?

  11. I wish blogs would stop churning the fire and stirring up controversy for controversy’s sake. If you like the song/video, great. Post it. Let us enjoy it, too. I don’t really see the point in posting a video and essentially saying HEY LET’S ARGUE ABOUT THIS VIDEO BECAUSE WE SAID TO. HERE ARE THE TWO OPINIONS YOU CAN HAVE. GO.

  12. Michael_  |   Posted on Oct 11th, 2011 +3

    Here’s a more realistic live performance she just did for Later… With Jools Holland:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IOP2Yd_jpYQ#!

    She doesn’t sound all that bad so I’ll let bygones be bygones and let her do her thing. She’s a pretty-faced pop singer with a good support system.

    • Dude…do yourself a favor and get away from your computer for a while. Go outside and smell the fresh air…then visit the nearest hot dog street vendor and dunk your annoying face into the weiner bath.

  13. Oh My! All these boys fighting about me!

  14. Has anyone else noticed that the way she sings “I will love you until the end of time” sounds just like it came from a Chris Isaak song?

  15. People criticizing musicians for being too ‘aesthetic’ or ‘image-based’ should really get the fuck out of here.

  16. No, not really. I see a point to all this.

    If ‘Lana’ was a 300 pound dog with a moustache, no one would give a f@#$ and we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place. Music ‘purists’ judge the music’s merit on what you can do as a MUSICIAN, not whether you can pout your DSL’s against a wall while wearing some bullsh!t vintage/hipster apparel.

    It should always be MUSIC 1st, Image/Persona/Marketing/Other 2nd. Saying ‘well it’s always been done this way’ doesn’t make it right.

    It simply sounds like Michael is disappointed that Stereogum would choose to carry a torch for an artist in this “category.”

    Might as well start pimping Beiber on SG.

    • if Beyonce did this exact same thing, yall all would be fapping
      biased and ignorant article,
      biased and ignorant comments,
      and the song is.. eh
      theres so much mediocrity going on here, its almost painful to witness

  17. There’s really no reason to hate her.

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  19. There’s nothing Indie Rock about her. There’s also nothing wrong with that. I think Lana is just being herself (okay, despite the name). Her style and appearance is just part of an overall package. I don’t think she’s too concerned with credibility and being part of any scene. No, not “Indie” at all. She is however too different, too oddball to be considered truly mainstream. Yes, we are all paying attention because she is gorgeous and dresses very stylishly. But I heard something quite magical in Video Games, and to a lesser extent I hear it here too. The arguments against here are valid while we wait for her to release further material. Once she actually puts out a full-length than we can really asses her talents as an artist and creator. For now, she provides a welcome distraction from life’s daily doldrums. She does it without being crass or reliant upon sex and that’s not always easy for a female singer. Maybe that’s all she truly wants to do is entertain people. And what is wrong with that? I say that as long as she’s true to her unique (albeit unoriginal) aesthetic, that’s fine with me. Hopefully she will grow as writer and performer with time.

  20. Love this performance. Did a little remix of it… sort of an alternative studio band take on the whole thing. Is here : soundcloud.com/jeremyblake/lana-del-rey-blue-jeans-remix

    I think she has serious vibe, and for right now, I’m ok with that. It’s nice to hear her strip her stuff down to bare elements for performances. Great stuff!

  21. If you can close your eyes and still hear a great song, then this is for you. If not, move on.

  22. ‘It’s better than I ever even knew
    They say that the world was built for two
    Only worth living if somebody is loving you’

    http://www.videogameslyrics.com

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