Lana Del Rey and The Overworked Hype Machine

Until Saturday night I had never heard Lana Del Rey sing. But that doesn’t mean I hadn’t heard of her.

As a loyal reader of the gossip blog Oh No They Didn’t, I was very familiar with Del Rey’s glorious hair cape (don’t despair girls. You can buy it) and full lipped pout (that too). I don’t listen to the radio often anymore (not in a “I’m above it” kinda way but more in a “I have no desire to hear Katy-Rihanna-Nicki-LMFAO on repeat all day long and the local alt rock station got shut down” way) but I thought surely she must be getting played constantly to merit the sort of  “stan” devotion I witnessed in the comments on posts about her. Plus, who makes their debut on SNL?

Well…about that…

We all know the story by now. Lana got up there and tanked. Hard. There is no way to sugar coat it. She lacked stage presence, seemed scared to death, didn’t appear to have ever touched a note, let alone held one and so on. She was one Ashlee Simpson hoe down away from the worst SNL appearance in recent history.

Actually, scratch that. I don’t know anyone who was deluded into buying Ashlee as a great talent. And plenty of people were buying the hype about Lana. Hype is a hell of a drug.

Within moments of the end of her performance (or during it if you were like me and were watching from your couch with laptop at the ready) suddenly everyone had an opinion.

Stans: She was nervous! Everyone sucks on SNL! Its her first performance! She sounds great on her album!

Haters: Told you she couldn’t sing. This is what daddy’s money paid for. She sucks. Where is Adele?

The rest of us: Wait…this wasn’t a continuation of the “You Can Do Anything!” skit? Oh.

Things didn’t change much with her second performance. People who thought she was terrible the first time weren’t going to suddenly declare her the second coming. Her fans were not going to ditch her. And the rest of the world was still wondering how this girl got on SNL in the first place.

The thing that perplexes me the most about the aftermath of this performance is the excuses being made. Excuses that tend to lend credence to the idea that she had no business being on the show in the first place. As I understand it, being a host or musical guest on SNL is a signal to the world that you have “made it” (recent musical guests: Kelly Clarkson, Michael Buble, Coldplay, Maroon 5). At the very least, you don’t make it on SNL without being a proven performer. If Tom Petty, who has performed on SNL 8 times, has an off night (author’s note: this is impossible) would anyone really care? No. Why? Because we have a history with him. We know his talent. We’ve all had that magical moment of driving on a Saturday afternoon and coming across “Free Fallin'” while flipping radio stations. We don’t have such memories with with Lana Del Rey. We have no reason to cut her slack. We’re still waiting to see the receipts. A 2 song EP and a Youtube account cannot speak more for you than a live performance.

She hasn’t proven anything to anyone. And she must. It doesn’t matter how many magazines she covers, or how many girls want to emulate her pout. Until that girl can stand on stage and give the audience something they can feel, then she’s just another pretty face with a good publicist (and allegedly a daddy with deep pockets). I can’t say that the criticism she has received is unwarranted because…well thats the nature of the game. If you don’t want to be criticized then restrict your public performances to drunken private room karaoke like I do. You DON’T accept a performing slot on a high profile major network tv program.

Singers sing. In public. End of story. Arguments about autotune and lip-syncing don’t apply here. There is nothing about her to not “get” (another popular argument). Lana Del Rey is not wearing a “I’m so hot don’t worry if I can’t sing” outfit (See; The Pussycat Dolls), backed by tight bodied backup dancers, without a live musician to be found. Her image (because thats all we have to go on) is trying to give me PJ Harvey or Fiona Apple. What she’s actually serving up is…well…*does a hoe down*.

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