“Begged, borrowed, and cried… god knows I tried.” Fame may be fleeting, and riches for sure don't buy you a sliver of happiness. While it may offer you power, it also gives you the impression that you are never good enough. There is an adage that states the news of today will fill the trash cans of tomorrow. Hot Girl summer has come to an end, and with the arrival of October comes Melancholic Girl Autumn. And who better to embody this sensation than Lana Del Rey? (Ultraviolence sold separately)
The music of Elizabeth Grant's alter ego Lana Del Rey has long been at the top of the list for any "Sad Girl Starter Pack." Lana Del Rey used to be a mystery to her admirers, illustrating lost loves, cigarette buds, drugs, and long nails. Stuck in 1950-60’s America with an odd affinity for singing about older guys, she was born and raised in New York till she ditched her dark brunette locks for the California blonde highlights.
Lana Del Rey: Everybody knows I'm the best, I'm crazy
Lana's career existed prior to her religiously celebrated album "Born To Die." Del Rey published her inaugural EP "Kill Kill" with 5 Points Records in 2007 under the moniker Lizzy Grant, a tribute to her real name, Elizabeth Wooldridge Grant. In 2010, she released her self-titled album "Lana Del Rey," which received very little attention and was eventually abandoned by her record label.
But keeping that aside for a second, Grant has demonstrated again and again and again that the title of the sad queen of pop which she's methodically and meticulously built over time around the person/mask of Lana Del Rey belongs to her. Her iconic image and artistic talent are one that's associated with the phrase “It's complicated".
The now 38-year-old singer/songwriter was exposed to everything that is wrong with the world of entertainment from the start, from nasty, misogynistic criticism to comments doubting her sincerity and musicianship as a whole Lana Del Rey has always been, and likely always will be, The controversial heroine of modern pop.
Grant comes from a well-to-do family and at first appeared to be one of thousands of indie artists attempting to make it in New York's clubs and bars, pouring their heart and souls into the music they make, all in the hopes of being seen by the world. After all, this is how everyone from Billy Joel to Yeah Yeah Yeahs got their start. But Lizzy Grant never achieved fame. Her one and only album vanished almost completely, as stated before. Lana Del Rey, on the other hand, rose to prominence. call it luck, call it something else.
Yes, Lana and Lizzy are the same people. This two-sides-of-the-same-coin thing has become one of the most polarizing characters in Music History. Some fans still believe they are the victims of a massive deception scam. When video games initially became popular, Lana was an underground sensation hailed for her genuine feel. Del Rey's incredible voice whistled over the mournful tune of blurry outtakes of home videos and Hollywood locations.
Some skeptics wondered if, rather than being a natural one-in-a-million hit or miss, Grant's transition into Lana Del Rey had been carefully orchestrated from the start. Her managers picked her moniker, which comes from film actress Lana Turner. Further adding fuel to the already raging fire was that as opposed to being an outsider seeking acceptance, Lizzy is the daughter of an extremely wealthy father who has supported her throughout her career. Individuals were dubious of how Grant's failing record, as well as all of her social media platforms, appeared to have been removed from the internet shortly before Del Rey's appearance. There has been much discussion over when Del Rey first signed with her label and how much effect their clever marketers may have had on her initial success.
Genuine relatability and especially authenticity are already extremely difficult to acquire. "The concept of authenticity is elusive." "It's a complete illusion in many ways," said Professor Robert Thompson, a pop culture expert at Syracuse University. Others perceive sexism towards a female artist prepared to utilize forward means to market her music as a more straightforward reason for the uproar Lana Del Rey had provoked. Some of it has a mean-girls vibe to it and of course, it is indeed a "Cruel World"
"To be clear, all the detractors saying she's some made-up-by-the-machine pop star are full of shit," said Tony Simon, a producer who worked with Del Rey in 2009. While it is hard to keep the business's hands out of the pop when developing a pop star, the roots of where this all originates from are firmly inside Lizzy Grant." In Lana's own words, she "never had a persona. Never needed one. "
I'm not implying that Lana is flawless or that each critique of her needs to be positive; I understand that tastes in music vary widely, and she's not for everyone. But criticizing a woman for being too self-aware and at ease with her own skin is perplexing and goes against everything we adore about her. Criticize her singing and music production, and seriously go ahead and argue if her music belongs on the charts. Don't dispute her authenticity, though.
Like the stars miss the sun in the morning sky
It wasn't until the dawn of the internet that musicians like Lana broke through and propelled sadness to the top of the charts. People want to connect with one another, and they desire a range of emotions in their music, including sadness (summertime sadness, aha). Although everyone experiences sorrow, despair, and melancholy (we don't listen to summertime sadness in summer), as humans we are terrible at dealing with it. It's hardly surprising that individuals like us have formed almost a one-sided relationship with Lana because there is now more music available that celebrates misery, to which people can empathize and find solace (sorry).
As seen by the careers of artists like The Smiths (is it The Smiths, I love the Smiths! ), sadness has undoubtedly been one of pop music's motivating impulses since the dawn of time. However, Del Rey has transformed this traditional pop melodrama into a type of movement by using it to convey a very 21st-century grief. There has never been greater room in popular music and elsewhere for sorrow.
There has never been greater room in mainstream music and elsewhere for grief and pain and loss and I miss her (sorry). A decade ago, the indie scene was dominated by chirpy male bands, but today Mitski is on the rise. Other artists catering to our need for someone to cry to, like Frank Ocean, Joji, Alex Turner, Juice World, Lil Peep (I can go on all day), etc have also been dominating the scene. Thus Lana carrying the crown for all sad girls and their starter pack is an achievement to behold.
However, it is fundamentally unacceptable for women in music to express sadness, right? While some see MGK's songs as "good" (seriously though please stop listening to MGK) and Hozier's "sad but lustful" approach is widely appreciated, Lana Del Rey is criticized for being engrossed with her image and "aw how awful" when she sings about being miserable.
I am a major admirer of male artists like Frank Ocean as well and I might go ahead and even say on a whim that artists like Hozier and Frank Ocean and their more soulful and melancholic sounds are equivalent to Lana's music. As a fan, I am allowed to critique their sounds but not hate them for being themselves, that's just wrong.
Like those who came before her, what has made Lana Del Rey stand out from the crowd is her particular style. Her admirers like her because she's in a state of perpetual melancholy; she has given us an accompaniment to our own anguish in a similar way as Frank Ocean has provided an album for Lost Love and Long Nights and Pitbull has provided a theme to our nights out.
Baby love me cause I'm playing on the Radio
I don't think I have to say this but she represents a whole generation, her pompous body of work masquerading as the steps that guide those who romanticize their sadness, especially the young millennia like us, coming of age in a society defined by capitalism, selfishness, social melodramas, and a stringent state combined with the lost definitions of cultural identity.
Album after album, the New York City-born diva alternated between ominous despair and melancholy reflections of the times, generally while singing a tale as old as time. Del Rey has nine studio albums, 38 singles, and 16 promotional singles under her belt (not counting the secretive unreleased tracks). Her most well-known and appreciated albums include "Born To Die" (2012), "Ultraviolence" (2014), "Honeymoon" (2015), "Lust for Life" (2017), and "Norman F****** Rockwell!" (2019), for which she has earned six Grammy nominations.
In "Born To Die," the musical number "Ride" illustrates the conflict of wishing to be free and unhindered while simultaneously resenting being alone. "Been trying' hard not to get in trouble/But I, I've got a war in my mind... so I just ride," she adds cynically. Throughout the album, this fight of wanting to be desired and appreciated for what she is; being a creature of need and defining herself in terms of drug and alcohol clichés, being a "daddy's girl," and being chased by older guys becomes almost relatable to all of us in our twenties (except the last part... that's just Lana)
"Born To Die" is exquisite in spite of and in fact because it being so absurdly exaggerated/cliched, at times irritating(in a good way), sympathetic, and heartbreaking in its obsessive fixation with money, men, and sorrow. The record and its sad heroine reflect the pinnacle of ignorant, obnoxious, self-loathing behavior we've all demonstrated, in one manner or yet another.
Lana's album "Norman F*****g Rockwell!" is one of my personal faves because it perfects the symbiotic relationship between the careful spectator and soul-baring, classic femme fatale with stories to tell. And boy does she tell a story, Where previously there was political and sexual hip-hop (Cola-Born to Die), there is now solemn, philosophic ornate rock. Where formerly there were songs like "I wish I was dead" and live-fast-die-young/memento mori themes, there are now disclaimers like "You took my sadness outta context" or "I ain't no candle in the wind."
It's almost as if she had meticulously mapped out each element of the process. As if like, with each lyric, every sensuous hum, every frantic purr, she knew she'd one day finish a project so intricate, so strong, and so delicate, that it'd unexpectedly make all of her past productions seem dated (Except summertime sadness, that always has and will slap).
If there was ever a line formed between her persona Lana Del Rey and her real self Elizabeth Grant, it is now as blurry and as thin as it could be before totally melting, or perhaps one is now tails and the other is heads, being two sides of the same coin and Lana makes music because the coin landed scarred side up for her.
Ultimately, Lana's music symbolizes sorrow, daddy issues, and the one who got away, and makes you yearn for sensations you've never had (yearning is the most fun an individual can have without taking their clothes off or whatever panic at the disco said). She is divisive, carving out a space for herself.
But she's certainly somebody whose music is like spoken poetry (she has a bachelor's in philosophy btw). Her music depicts a glorified existence that is impossible. She is someone with clashing identities. A bard with stories to tell. the personification of sadness. She qualifies as the queen of sad pop for a reason, she has never compromised on her style, which is what originally drew us to her, while also managing to adapt with every step she makes.