Debate: Lana Del Rey

By Glenn and Jake

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.     

8 comments:

  1. John Candy's GhostJanuary 18, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    can't wait until she dies and I can hang out with her!

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  2. I welcome all comparisons of me to Marshall Applewhite. He will always be the smarter dressed, no matter how coordinated I think my outfits are. This was great and one of the most sincere 'debates' posted on OYIT. Jake's misgivings are completely founded - she is an industry Mogwai that we all fed after midnight the way they planned. Now she's our bulbous-lipped Gremlin and we have to suffer the sequels. But Glenn's characterization of her music is spot on - it is sickeningly-sweet pop masked with a NIN synth background to add 'weight'. And Jake's Chris Isaak comparison is the most prescient I have read to date. But the fact is that I was moved by Chris Isaak when I was ten and I am moved by LDR now. Or at least by her 'Video Games' song/video. When I watched it I was first struck by the vapidity of her persona and of the lyrics. But I was compelled to listen again. Then the next time I was drawn in by the foreboding background chords. The juxtaposition of the two at first was lost on me, but after having to listen to it again and again the meaning struck me - LDR is of a generation that we don't belong to. Chris Isaak's melancholy took place on an island close to paradise. He may have lost the girl, but he could still live a beautiful life where Reagan ends the Cold War and Clinton balances the budget, and he gets to watch the island sunset every night. LDR came of age when thousands of Americans were murdered for being American, where wars happened around the world all the time, sometimes without any real justification, and any reverence of Hollywood as a cultural cornerstone had completely, justifiably, eroded. LDR's generation doesn't experience young love, or video games, the way that we did. Their pervasive sense of dread is founded in empirical fact, like ours now is. We grew up in a time period that saw a much darker side of humanity - Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq the first time. But that was all sanitized by the time it got to us, and didn't affect us on a personal level until much later. LDR and her like came of age when people they knew or know people who were friends of people they knew died on 9-11 or died in Iraq or Afghanistan, or killed people in those places. That sort of thing to some extent changes how people can experience the innocent pleasures of falling in love and playing video games. It colors most things, I assume. LDR captures that perfectly in 'Video Games' and admittedly runs it into the ground in 'Blue Jeans'. Great debate!!!!

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  3. To be fair on two points that you made Bub: 1)I actually do like Chris Isaak and 2)Lana Del Rey is actually 25, so she isn't that much younger than we are. Plus, as we all should know after over two years of "Glenn and Jake do Debates," my points are always exaggerated. I genuinely do not like Lana Del Rey and I absolutely hate breaking her name down to initials. Really, in theory, Lana Del Rey is exactly the type of music I do like, but something about her just falls flat to me. I listen to a lot of female singers (Marissa Nadler, St. Vincenet, Jessica Lea Mayfield, and even Feist) and Lana Del Rey seemingly fits right beside them. I think what I really dislike about her and the song "Video Games" is that it just isn't fun to me.

    Thanks for the great comment, Bub!

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  4. :( I didn't think I was putting down your critique Jake. I certainly didn't mean to. I thought it was correct, and more importantly, great! Also LDR which I abbreviate for convenience even though it takes many more keystrokes to explain that than to just write out her name, being four years younger isn't that much younger, but is a whole generation apart from us. That is what is hard for us 'millenials' to grasp. When 9-11 happened we were out of high school. When we invaded Iraq she was taking American Government in high school. I feel like that is a huge difference in experience of the world. It certainly would have been for me. Put it this way - for LDR, RATM is something she might discover while experimenting in college instead hearing in sixth grade and inspiring her to emulate Che Guevara from that point on.

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  5. I didn't think you were putting down my critique. Debates always put me on the defensive, I guess. I mean, really, half of my points were about pro-wrestling. But yeah, Lana Del Rey would have been a freshman when we were seniors, which means it would have been social suicide for any of us to date her.

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  6. I have been reading about her on Hipster Runoff for months without REALLY knowing who she is, then someone's sister posted a video for Video Games on FB, I watched it and I was sold. Not on her, but on the idea of her and the fight about her. Her SNL appearance and general rise has done for HRO what the Iraq war did for Daily Kos, what Steve Austin did for professional wrestling, what Charlie Chaplin did for movies, etc. If you asked me if I "liked" her I honestly could not answer. All I can say is that one day at work I watched her videos 20 times and usually will watch something by her daily, but I enjoy the hatred of her almost as much as I enjoy my own hatred of Croatians.

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