BLOOD SPORT: The Crucifixion Of Lana Del Rey

NMA TV: Lana Del Rey’s new album Born to Die has been panned by Billboard, Spin, Pitchfork and Stereogum. Video Games, voted best song of 2011 by the Guardian, was the first we heard of Lana Del Rey, but subsequent performances, including an appearance on Saturday Night Life, have been terrible. Her performance on SNL was so bad Brian Williams wrote an email to Gawker calling her a “Brooklyn hippster [sic]” and her performance “one of the worst outings in SNL history.” Juliette Lewis also tweeted negatively about her performance. Del Rey fans say her songs are good and she simply needs more time to come into her own. Critics say she is a manufactured phenomenon with no talent. Either way, is this amount of publicity healthy for such an inexperienced artist? MORE

MTV: But the emerging pop star, whose debut album for Interscope, Born to Die, hit stores Tuesday (January 31), thinks she did a perfectly fine job on the legendary sketch show, telling Rolling Stone,“I actually felt good about it. I thought I looked beautiful and sang fine … I know some people didn’t like it, but that’s just the way I perform, and my fans know that.” Del Rey did admit to being nervous, though in a more general sense, saying live performance has never been her strong suit because she is “not a natural performer or exhibitionist” and that when she was younger she “hated the focus; it made me feel strange.” As the backlash intensified, Daniel Radcliffe, who hosted the January 14 show, came to Del Rey’s defense, telling reporters at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts nominations, “It was unfortunate that people seemed to turn on her so quickly. I also think people are making it about things other than the performance … if you read what people are saying about her online, it’s all about her past and her family and stuff that’s nobody else’s business. I don’t think [the performance] warranted anywhere near that reaction.” Del Rey echoed those same sentiments during her brief sit-down with Rolling Stone, chalking the of the criticism up to people’s general disdain for her public persona. “There’s backlash about everything I do. It’s nothing new,” she told the music mag. “When I walk outside, people have something to say about it. It wouldn’t have mattered if I was absolutely excellent. People don’t have anything nice to say about this project.” MORE

SLATE: A few years ago, the singer and songwriter Lizzy Grant reinvented herself online. This seems overwhelmingly unremarkable behavior in the 21st century, particularly for a would-be pop musician, but it proved scandalous. Grant, a 25-year-old singer-songwriter from upstate New York, recorded an EP and an album in the late 2000s. Some time before the summer of 2011, according to a recent Billboard story, she deleted her social-networking profiles and a site bearing her name, and withdrew her album, Lizzy Grant aka Lana Del Rey, from iTunes. Last August, she uploaded a music video to YouTube under the stage name Lana Del Rey—goodbye Grant. The clip was for “Video Games,” a beguilingly morose love song. Helped along by music blogs and BBC Radio 1, which supported the track early, the video became a hit: Today, it’s been viewed more than 22 million times.There seems to have been nothing more duplicitous in Del Rey’s jettisoning of Grant than there was in Dylan’s jettisoning of Zimmerman, but when the fact of her previous incarnation came to light, the response from online detractors was irate and impassioned: This was no diamond in the digital rough, pure and uncompromised. Grant’s debut album had, it emerged, been produced by David Kahne, an industry big with Paul McCartney and Sugar Ray on his résumé. She had, in fact, signed with the powerhouse major label Interscope a month before she’d uploaded the “Video Games” clip. A particular point of scrutiny were her lips, which appear significantly plumper today than they do in photographs from the Grant days, suggesting a surgical procedure—further fakery. In posts and comment sections on many of the same blogs that had helped Del Rey take off in the first place, listeners lashed out as though they’d been betrayed, expunging the abject corporate product they’d accepted so trustingly into their hearts. In this blood sport, the blog Hipster Runoff played the (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) head cheerleader: “She was basically a failed mainstream artist who is being ‘rebranded’ behind major label dollars,” one post sniped. MORE

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