How do you solve a problem like Del Rey?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? Prince once said, “What’s missing from pop music is danger”. Step forward Lana Del Rey, a young singer songwriter from New York City. Lana sings about heartbreak, loneliness, money, sex and notoriety all with a distinct cinematic sound. Ms. Del Rey has definitely become one of the biggest singers around at the moment.
If you are unfamiliar with Del Rey, her aesthetic can be summed up in a sentence. She is a lonely little rich girl who sings about being everything her man wants her to be. Now if this sentence leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you’re not the only one who feels this way.
Lana Del Rey has found herself a very loyal fan base. Both Born to die and Ultraviolence went straight to number one in the UK album chart and she has had sold out tours since the beginning of 2012. Last year Lana gave us Ultraviolence. Has her new album gone away from these themes of loneliness? Not at all. In fact, Ultraviolence might be her darkest work yet. With lyrics such as “Being a mistress on the side, might not appeal to fools like you” and song titles like ‘F****ed my way up to the top’, it’s clear that the demons surrounding Ms. Del Rey’s life from her previous album still haven’t been banished. However, this isn’t a problem and her tragic poetry easily lends itself to the most beautiful piece of music; the whole album feels like one big title track. With a more surf rock feel and a less cinematic sound from her previous album, Ultraviolence feels more personal and even if you don’t fully agree with what’s being sung, the record keeps us on a tyre swing that goes higher, even when we don’t want it to. It may be all too easy to join the fleet of haters and ignore Del Rey’s macabre; however, there must be something there if the fan base is so huge. It seems that Lana Del Rey has become a voice of a melancholy generation who wish to see the world with a romantic discourse, and despite critics not quite understanding this, her fanbase clearly does.
Suffice to say, she hasn’t changed her style at all, and while singing “I’ll wait for you babe, it’s all I do” she begs critics to take a swing: “You never liked the way I said it, if you don’t get it, then forget it”. This is why Lana is so popular; it is the danger, the unusual, how it shouldn’t be liked, but clearly it is. Even if the subtext is bad, the music can make it good. Songs tell stories; we don’t have to enjoy what we hear her singing about, but it doesn’t make it any less of a good story. This article was supposed to be a think piece based on why Lana Del Rey is loved and slated almost simultaneously by critics. How do you solve a problem like Del Rey? You don’t. We enjoy the problem because we still don’t understand it. Critics can be divided, but they still enjoy Lana Del Rey because she is bringing the element of danger that Prince spoke of back into pop music.