Good for you, Lana Del Rey


Tamar McCollom, Opinion Editor

Introducing Tamar McCollom, one of Mirador’s new monthly columnists! Her articles are posted on the first Tuesday of every month.

Rarely does an artist with only one album to her name already have such a long and storied history. Lana Del Rey came on the scene as a self-produced internet star from humble trailer park beginnings. Blogs rejoiced in her vintage-inspired aesthetic and her legitimately excellent breakout track “Video Games.”

But alas, the only thing that blogs love more than creating a star is eating their own, and it was discovered that dear little Lana was signed to the major label, Interscope, and that she was not actually Lana Del Rey, but Lizzy Grant, the wealthy daughter of a real-estate investor.  Backlash to Lana ensued, which was quickly followed by backlash to the backlash (Think: “Leave Britney Alone!”). And somewhere in there, an ongoing debate over whether her lips were real took over the internet.

All of that was supposed to change when Lana took the stage on Saturday Night Live. However, the big night came, and there she was, warbling away completely off-key and swaying awkwardly as if she were the semi-incapacitated sister in Sixteen Candles. 

Oh, it was cringe-worthy indeed—perhaps only slightly below Ashlee Simpson’s infamous lip-synching debacle on the same show roughly seven years ago. And all of Lana’s critics had no reservations pointing out just how terrible she was.

But in some ways, Lana’s television catastrophe was oddly adorable. Rarely, does one ever see someone so visibly nervous on live television. Lana was basically that adorable kid at the talent show that was raring to go until they finally get up there, mumble a few words, and promptly freeze. Of course, when that happens to eight-year-olds, their moms promptly scoop them up and recite the usual “You were great. I’m still proud of you. Good for you for getting up onto that stage. ”

Born to Die, Lana’s new album, which debuted this last Monday, plays out in much the same fashion.  Lana is your average pop star working abnormally hard to be anything but average.

There’s a degree of visible calculated effort in every outfit, every sultry drawl, and every shrill falsetto. Most pop stars attempt to appear as a seamless, perfectly polished product.  But with Lana, you can see every gear turning, which while likely not the intended result, is an oddly endearing side effect.

Lana Del Rey knows what she wants to be doing; she just has no idea how to do it correctly. Half her songs are crass and insipid or overly-stylized mush. She tends to lose her own plot, and she definitely isn’t at all like the Nancy Sinatra she aspires to be.

However, in all fairness, at times Lana is dead on. There is a reason why there was so much hype in the first place. “Video Games” is still an exceptionally accurate depiction of modern ennui. “Born to Die and “Blue Jeans” are great pop songs that embody the aesthetic that she was aiming for.

But try as she might, Lana just comes up that wee bit short. She has enormously high ambitions and just enough talent and originality to conceive of realizing them, but she just can’t manage to pull it off.  She’s that red lipstick that you wear, but aren’t entirely sure is the right shade. Or that pair of gorgeous platform wedges that, yes, admittedly fit, but you can’t quite walk properly in.

Lana Del Rey is about to walk into a brave new world of scrutiny, but at least she gets an A+ for effort. Good for you, Lana. Good for you.