In Defense of Lana Del Rey
Photo by Nicole Nodland
It seems from the very start of Lana Del Rey's career, the whole world was rooting for her to fail. There were articles exposing her former persona, Lizzy Grant, not to mention accusations of plastic surgery and conspiracy theories about how she'd been manufactured by record executives.
Then came her first major live performance on television -- Saturday Night Live on January 14, 2012. You could almost hear the collective snarl from critics and journalists waiting to tear her performance apart.
Unfortunately, Del Rey gave them exactly what they expected -- shaky renditions of "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans." Some called it "the worst performance in SNL history," but that title still belongs to a lip-synching Ashlee Simpson. Instead what happened on TV was an obviously nervous woman trying hard to prove her critics wrong.
But even if things didn't go her way early on, Del Rey has fired back with song after song, steadily winning a large, loyal fan base. And now, on the heels of her second album, Ultraviolence, she's about to embark on a sold-out tour.
So, why do critics and music snobs still cry out "wannabe pop tart" when speaking about Del Rey?
It could possibly boil down to sexism. Men in the music industry can change their look and sound fairly easily with little mention from media and fans. In fact, they are often celebrated for it. (See Justin Timberlake, Usher, Kanye West.) But even that's too easy an answer.
After all, Miley Cyrus was able to shed her Disney-fied persona and co-opt twerking as her own, with Middle America being none the wiser. Sure, there were cries of cultural appropriation and racism at the beginning, but now everyone just seems to say, "She's just being Miley."
No, there's just something about Del Rey that seems to rub certain people a wrong way.
See also: Britney Spears: Why It's Time to Retire