Whoa, boy… Admittedly, I only recently got around to checking out Lana’s viral sensation Video Games, but I’ve been digging it thus far. I wouldn’t say I’m running out to stan her or anything, but I am intrigued by her, and interested in hearing other tunes. That aside, count me among the many who heard she was performing on Saturday Night Live without first releasing a record and were taken aback. At best, she is hipster-famous, Tumblr-famous, and a current indie “It Girl”; that said, there’s no established fame to justify the move.
Then again, I think the world would be better if SNL stopped chasing popular music artists and sought out talent needing the exposure more often, so hey! Have Lana Del Rey on the show.
The trouble with performing on SNL though is that it will make or break your career if you aren’t established. Given that Lana’s album Born To Die isn’t even out yet, this is a risky venture to accept if you’re not absolutely ready. Plenty of amazing artists seem to sound kinda meh on the show, as compared to typical live performances; I blame SNL’s sound system and acoustics, because how else would the disgustingly talented Florence Welch sound a little off?
So, Lana happened… and well, the intarwebs exploded. Twitter became a mass of “WTF is this awful, boring hot mess doing on stage?” and “OMFG STFU how dare you insult our goddess Lana?” and “Um, Lana… I love you, but…” See for yourself, dearies (if these disappear, search YT or, if American, Hulu):
Now, admittedly, I’ve never heard the studio cut of Blue Jeans, but I have heard Video Games and um… yeah. Not a great performance. The timing seems off, as if she hasn’t rehearsed and is starting too early or late in places. Her voice also seems to wander away from the proper notes several times. And Blue Jeans? Kind of atrocious, and doesn’t make me want to search out anything else by Del Rey.
But I did, just to see if she’s always lousy live… And found these:
Better… moments of meh, but average overall. Enjoyable in comparison.
Holy crap, Lana has stage presence? Where the hell did it go last night? And although I’m not keen on certain moments in this either, it’s a far more polished performance than SNL. If she’d sounded like this last night, I’d be much more interested in checking out Born To Die.
So, what happened?
Nerves? Pressure? The realization that this was no longer some fun enterprise funded by Dad where she could just write songs and sing in a studio? Illness? All of the above?
I’m inclined to think that, as grateful as Lana Del Rey claims to be for her opportunities, she never wanted to be mainstream. No desire, no passion for it. She just wants to tinker around, play tiny clubs now and again, and relax. Take this quote from a recent interview, which is only fueling the backlash over SNL:
What bothers you about the criticism?
I’m just not interested. Music is secondary to me. I wish I could go back to normal. I’m a really quiet person. I always have been. It’s hard when you see a lot of things written about you. It’s not what I had in mind.
For someone who’s having the world bow down to her before her album drops, that’s a pretty blase attitude about your current career path… She’s also made comments about how she’d prefer to quietly make music and not have people listening to it and critiquing it publicly. None of this suggests someone who even wanted to be on SNL, let alone deserves to be. Her constant use of “I’m gonna kill myself” and similar expressions in interviews also grates on me, because it sounds melodramatic for the sake of it.
Will Born To Die be any good? Maybe; thus far, it sounds like Lana’s trying too hard to be Adele on an electronica remix, and frankly, I’ve yet to be truly impressed by Adele (her voice is decent, but not my cup of tea; every song is the same whiny love gone wrong shtick to my ears). But how many people will bother to check her out now?
Maybe that’s how Lana planned it…