Have you heard of singer Lana Del Rey? Well, probably not, because she doesn't even have an officially released single yet, but the hipster music blogs are all abuzz about her. Her music is great, but they still hate her because she's not "authentic." But that's not the problem at all.
The problem is that the target audience for Lana's sultry electronic lullabies about longing for emo boys playing video games is the tight jeans wearingest of the Greenpoint hipsters. But they seem to have a big problem with where Lana came from. They think she's inauthentic can't hack it, has had her image tailord by marketers, and that she wears bad jeans. Bad jeans! A capital offense.
Yes, Lana Del Rey, Williamsburg's answer to Brigette Bardot, used to be a boring pop singer named Lizzy Grant. Check out the before and after pictures. Lizzy sang the same kind of music and made the same type of videos—with vintage footage intercut with scenes of her singing—except no one paid attention to her. So Lizzy got some managers, some new clothes, a new haircut, and some collagen in her lips and become Lana Del Rey, the Siren of the Lower East Side.
Her detractors say that she's not real, because she has manufactured and massaged her image into something different than what she was originally. But isn't this a passage as old as time? Don't all the kids reading these blogs come from the suburbs and attend their first underground show and buy their first semi-ironic vintage gear at Beacon's Closet and transform themselves into something they couldn't be in their beige hometowns? Isn't Lana just similarly coming into her own in the public eye? And isn't she just like Lady Gaga, who was playing gigs in boring outfits as Stefani Germanotta before she became the couture-clad cockatoo she is today? Or like Katy Perry who shed her Christian singing roots to become the cotton candy cartoon character she is now?
It's a tale as old as time, a beast becoming a beauty with the help of a record company so she can become a big fat success. And Lana Del Rey is really a hipster perfect storm: wallowing and unique music, retro chic sex appeal, and a push from Pitchfork. What's not to like? What her potential fans don't like is being marketed too. They think that because they live outside of the mainstream they are somehow immune to advertising, marketing, and the other forms of mind control "the man" uses to get them to buy things. The real problem is that it's working. They really like her and they hate themselves for it. She doesn't have a song out yet and everyone is talking about her. Would we be having the same discussion about Lizzie Grant? Hell no!
Lana Del Rey is a different kind of beast. Unlike Lady Gaga, who is like a pair of Gap jeans covered in rhinestones, Lana is a pair of the same jeans weathered and distressed to look realer older and better than they are. But in both cases, the talent is there, its just the image that has been glossed over. And what is wrong with that? Being an outsider is about liking what you like and having the determination of knowing what is good and what is not. So, if you like Lana's music, then like it. If you don't, then don't. But don't head to all these arguments about where she's from and what she wears to back up some crazy argument
about her "authenticity" to try to dissuade people from downloading her tunes and pushing her videos past the 1 million mark on YouTube.
OK, I'll give her detractors that injecting her lips is going above and beyond the call of duty. Changing your image is one thing, but changing your body is another. But Lana is just playing the game, the same game that everyone from Elvis to Kreayshawn has played. Everyone's problem is that this time she's winning.