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  • Lana Del Rey Plays Letterman 2/2/12
Lana Del Rey & David Letterman

It’s been a compelling week of television on CBS’s Late Show. On Tuesday, K-Pop’s Girls’ Generation made their American TV debut to the delight of all of us, and especially guest Bill Murray. Wednesday marked David Letterman’s 30th year in late night, over which Howard Stern got all nostalgic, telling the host, “Back then, the fact that you asked me to be on a national television show was mind-blowing.” And Thursday saw Lana Del Rey — perhaps you’ve heard of her — improve upon her much critiqued SNL bow with a reprise of “Video Games” backed by piano and string quartet. Letterman was charmed (asking if Lana would return tomorrow … and Monday). You can judge the performance below, and we’ve got some photos of her outside the Ed Sullivan Theater above.

Born To Die is out now on Interscope.

Comments (75)
  1. Still no stage presence, but her voice sounded better here. I don’t know how to italicize words on here, but ‘better’ would be in italics because it sill is pretty shaky.

  2. Much better.

  3. My god. She looks just like Julia Robert’s character in Steel Magnolias. Still atrocious.

    • “Still atrocious”

      Lizzy Del Ray has had a rocky and questionable debut… but super negative comments I’m hearing on this appearance? …trashing her has officially jumped the shark.

      Let’s try to stay objective here, this wasn’t bad at all.

      • ummmmm you shouldnt be on LETTERMAN for not bad at all! This girl should not be on tv.

        • It’s not the music, the music is fine.

          It’s just becoming obvious that if she had a cool backstory, like “I was a homeless addict from a broken home” people would be all about her. I think the rich kid thing surfaces how much of music is an act, and people dont want to hear it.. and that goes for indie bands too.. everything is manufactured, by managers or by the individuals themselves. Del Ray has become a poster for it because she didn’t just appear to the public as a pop star, she kind of awkwardly came in half baked. The grass roots/youtube approach gave people a behind the scenes look at a rise to fame, and the creation of a self image, and it was too “unromantic” to see and shattered the cult of personality.

          Bottom line is, this song as worth of Letterman as most other acts. As a songwriter I’m impressed if she did in-fact write it. Whether it’s Elliott Smith, Radiohead or Katy Perry- a good song comes from the pen of an artist at some point and this shines through all the moneymen, fake lips and production.

  4. Well, at least he liked it. Is he usually that supportive of the guest artists?
    Also, ouch @ 4:05.

  5. Something really strange has happened: suddenly, I want her to do really well. Also, it was nice to see her laugh when Dave asked her to come back tomorrow night. Finally got her to drop her guard, which is what I think her problem is.

    • It is certainly nice to see her relax. Her being guarded is entirely justified though. If I was an artist who had millions of people saying how fake, ugly, and untalented I was after hearing a few songs of my songs, I’d probably be a little guarded.

      Putting out music is a vulnerability. Most musicians expect some backlash and seem to handle it without many issues. But the hype around her is overwhelming almost to the point of absurdity. Her being guarded almost makes her more relatable, which is a plus for me.

      • Normally “songs of my songs” would be called “cover songs.” In this case, it means “songs.”

      • very, very well said. i think it’s important (BEFORE these people leave their subjective, nasty comments…), that this is a person, just like anyone of us. meaning that if we put ourselves in her shoes, we would probably be doing the same thing: having our guard up and most likely, being incredibly nervous when put in the public eye. unless, of course, you don’t have a heart and can just act however you want without the worry of what other people would think, in which case, you are much less genuine than lizzy

    • Lana Del Rey’s next album is going to be in a year, maybe a year and a half, and will be critically acclaimed. I say this not because of her talent (I like her voice, not so much her song-writing), but because now that everyone has gotten their kicks ripping her down after she became a product of the hype, she will become slightly less in the spotlight, people will calm down and realize they overreacted, and then when the next album drops, they will seek to make up for their vicious criticisms by over-praising anything that’s better about the new album, no matter how marginal. I’m pretty neutral towards her, but I can’t shake the feeling that this is just how these things work.

  6. Just realized, does anyone else hear a rough edit at 2:08? Something sounds off about it

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  8. Amazing performance. Hope tomorrow she’s doing a cover of ‘Super Bass’.

  9. Wanna see her at SXSW!!!

  10. It might be better, or I might be drunk at 3 in the morning. I can’t tell.

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  13. is it just me or does it seem like she doesn’t really know the words to her own songs? her performances have an awkward “trying to keep up with the music” quality about them.

  14. Really nice. A better go at it here than on SNL. Props.

  15. This was a decent performance, I was kinda rooting for her, but I still don’t get the persona. Having a persona is fine, being a singer who’s actually more of an actress is fine too, but she needs to figure out what the persona actually is and stick with it. For now, the contradictory messages and the flimsiness of the album make her sound unprepared. And having such a big media machine push an unprepared girl in this way makes me uncomfortable. I kinda feel bad for her.

    And really, Stereogum, are you Gawker now? Paparazzi pictures? It’s like this girl is finally allowing you to scratch the trashy itch that’s been bothering you for months.

  16. Goddammit David Letterman is sooo cooool.

  17. so much better than SNL–but does anyone else think that having an actual stand for her mic would help her awkwardness? atleast it’s not the cordless mic–that was just disastress. the cord gave her something to grab onto besides her self…

    • Exactly. The poor girl is much more digestible live when she’s not wandering around, shoved into some gown.
      Putting her in something youthful and Layne Staley-ing her movement makes a big difference.

  18. Is it me, or do the lyrics to LDR’s songs seem a little bit tongue in cheek? I mean, I like her music, I admit it, but sometimes I can’t take her songs seriously because I think she is making fun of people, namely all of the people who are involved romantically with each other. It’s kinda funny.

    • That’s actually the reason why I like some of her songs. The possibility. Granted, the lyrics could more or less be the way that they are with all the cliches because she’s either a bad songwriter or she’s just lazy. But it can also be because she’s trying to be sarcastic considering the fact that she (or whoever the song writer is) is capable of writing something like “whistling my name.” That’s actually a decent idea to portray how a whistle or a similar act can be synonymous to a person’s identity.

      Of course, these are all possibilities. That said, the mere fact that there is that mystery gives it the weight. But that’s just my opinion.

  19. I started taking mental note of all the moments of pitch variations and awkward transitions; then I realized, I had reached around 50 at the end of SNL (Video Games), but only 15 here. Much improved? I think so.

  20. Pretty good actually

  21. Much better performance than SNL, happy to see it. However Dave’s swooning seemed a little over the top. Like somebody give him the cash-handshake “She’s had it rough Dave, we could REALLY use someone like you RAVING over her. *wink*wink*”

  22. I still don’t understand why she doesn’t sing with a mic stand. Put her in front of a vintage looking mic and make her stand there. THEN teach her to emote. And always put a bunch of reverb on her vocals.

    • …then shower her with roses, then bring back the Born to Die tigers to sit beside her, then bring back the tattooed boyfriend and have him do the cut-my-throat thing, then bring in Paz de La Huerta to flash her again, then RELEASE THE DOVES!

  23. She needs to STOP deviating from the original melody. She doesn’t have the chops to improvise within the keys and make it sound good.

  24. better performance, but still does nothing for me.

  25. I think this is better because in the SNL performance, she tried to add too much volume on her voice while using her lower register thereby losing control. In this performance, she went easy on the volume.

  26. photoshop, you know what to do


  27. this is the least bad the song has ever sounded. it’s still about 2 minutes too long but okay fine.

  28. Seems boring to me

  29. her lips literally get in the way of her performance. jesus.

  30. Dave clearly has the hots for her and her scary Elvira nails. That said, glad to see she’s getting better live. I’ve been stan-ing this bitch so hard; it’d be a disappointment to watch her not live up to the hype. So far #1 in 11 countries is pretty decent.


  31. So is Lana Del Rey now cool, or not cool ?

    • Daddy I want to be a pop star!
      Dad: Okay baby, I’m a millionaire. I’ll make it happen.
      *hard working musicians write all of her music, arrange it, and overproduce it*
      A year later you have what is known as Lana Del Rey!

      Is she talented? Nope.
      Can she sing? Not really.
      Should she have hired someone to write lyrics for her? Most definitely! (That way we don’t have to hear her rhyme “Sundress and dress” together.)
      Does even bad press sell records? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
      Is Lana Del Rey cool? It depends on what your definition of is, is.

      • is she gonna go away, NOPE, not even close, get used to it whiney hater haha. and i’m pretty sure what ever ‘hard working musicians’ are working with her are being paid for their grueling hours of hard hard manual labor haha. you know how bad the music biz is right now? i can promise you if you get to work on a LDR album, consider yourself mothafuckin lucky, it’s an easy payday in a land of friggin 3 cents on a iTunes download world brohski. anyway, enjoy the tidal wave of hype that is only gonna get 100x stronger:) (and thank your lucky stars she’s at last not ugly as fuck like Gaga)

  32. She reminds me a bit of Nico. Model looks, flat yet dramatic. Gorgeous. Love her.

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