The new singer Lana Del Rey is the most controversial person in indie music since Jim Morrison. She blasted onto the Internet in 2011 with a song and video entitled “Video Games.” Then she started playing small shows in Europe. Then she released another music video. Then someone on the Internet insulted her. Then she played Saturday Night Live and the music blogosphere exploded with a fury not seen since either the Challenger or the “Leave Britney Alone” video. Should everyone leave Lana Del Ray alone or instead go to her concerts and download her hits from iTunes? Glenn, who both dated LDR in the mid 00’s, and Jake, who has a controlling interest in her on the “Hollywood Stock Exchange,” debate the future of music’s “next big thing.”
Glenn: Simply stated: leave LDR alone. Since the beginning of the year when I discovered Lana Del Rey I have watched “Video Games” at least 300 times. It confused me, aroused me, frustrated me, haunted me, and ultimately satisfied me. And that was just the first time I watched it! All the subsequent times I felt numb, but in a good way - like leaving your genitals on a block of ice for 10 hours. She also has a song about Blue Jeans with lyrics like “I will love you until the end of time” and “Check out these new blue jeans, from Levi, on sale at Urban Outfitters this month.” Young female vocalists stuck in the ether and forced to make YouTube cover videos had no one to look up to until LDR showed up. Now we all have a role model.
Jake: Lana Del Rey is a major label artist with a carefully cultivated image and plastic surgery lips. Her music is hipster-baiting pap. Glenn is the exact market for this type of extra vanilla music. There is nothing daring, exciting or interesting about the song “Video Games.” She is a modern day female Chris Isaak and she is singing adult contemporary music to hipsters too stupid to realize it. In a way, Lizzie Grant is the Papa Shango of music. She did some voodoo and all of a sudden the public is throwing up and bleeding green ink from their scalp in acclamation. Now she is Lana Del Rey, after going through a careful image change, much like Papa Shango transforming into the popular Godfather character. Lana Del Rey is your pimp and she is turning you all out and making you ride on a ho train, whatever that is.
Glenn: Chris Isaak’s video for “Wicked Games” was voted one of the sexiest music videos of all time by a television channel recently. Presumably the voters in that poll had never watched the film Salò/120 Days of Sodom and thus have very traditional, healthy views of human sexuality. Is it a coincidence that “Wicked Games” and “Video Games” share the word “games,” like the games you are playing with our readers right now? Trying to compare Lana Del Rey to Papa Shango is like comparing Chris Isaak to Chris Kattan or comparing OYIT’s Bub to Marshall Applewhite. Of course she’s carefully cultivating her image - we all do! Why do you think I updated my Facebook profile picture to a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay? I wanted people to know that I am a Muslim, and that I oppose indefinite, trial-less detention of human beings. Why did you recently change your Facebook profile picture to you wearing heavy eyeliner? You love Bauhus. That’s your image. You can have it, but let LDR have hers too.
Jake: Lana Del Rey can have her image! I am not trying to image block her. If you want to listen to the type of music that is about image first and the actual music second, then go ahead. If you want to listen to the shit that a major label record company shovels into our ears instead of a group or artist that makes music because it is a creative outlet, great. You can catalog Lana Del Rey’s MP3s in the same folder as Lady Gaga’s. Papa Shango is a pretty apt comparison. Like Charles Wright (the actor portraying the wrestler Papa Shango, Kama Mustafa and The Godfather) did to Undertaker’s urn, Lana Del Rey will probably melt down her gold records and remold them into a golden necklace to taunt her fans for supporting her. She has about as much respect for her fan base as Kama did for the ashes in that urn. And maybe, much like Undertaker did with the urn, we can regain control of the necklace and reform it into its original form, but the power is never the same. Lana Del Rey can have her image, her pseudonym, her gold record necklace and the tears of her disappointed fans after a flop performance on “Saturday Night Live.”
Glenn: A flop performance? Hardly. I can name three SNL musical performances in recent memory that were all more offensive: Sinead O’Connor ripping up the picture of the Pope in our dimension and in two others. Yes, this counts as three separate performances because in one of the dimensions she rips up a picture of Mark McGwire too. The only thing Lana Del Rey shredded were her own vocal chords after a passionate rendition of Blue Jeans. Maybe my opponent cannot relate to songs about video games or blue jeans, two loves of the proletariat. No matter how much you want to tar her and feather her like the Gobbledy Gooker, the point remains that she is trying her best to create art based on her failed relationships - the musical equivalent of what I do on this blog every month. As Mark Ruffalo’s character says in The Kids Are Alright: “It's hard enough to open your heart in this world. Don't make it harder. “ Let’s celebrate her beautiful voice instead of trying to crucify her, like I think Undertaker once tried to do Stephanie McMahon.
Jake: Lana Del Rey is no Stephanie McMahon! The one thing they do have in common is plastic surgery. Lana Del Rey, to put it as simply and crudely as I can, has dick sucking lips and she does suck indeed. Maybe it is not dicks that she sucks, but it is the figurative dick of Interscope records. They ask her to jump and she says “how high?” and they ask her to sing about video games and blue jeans and she says “how sexy?” Then she coos these stupid songs like a phone sex operator and the Glenn’s of the world go out and purchase the video games that Lana sings about and the jeans that are featured in the liner notes of her albums. If that does not make your want to uproariously vomit, then you have the stomach of an Olympian. If you enjoy listening to Lana Del Rey, then turn your satellite radio to an adult contemporary station, put on your blue jeans and boot up your copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III. It is what Lana would want you to do.