The story of Lana Del Rey is probably as interesting as any other pop star’s out there. I don’t mean in terms of her brand, the story she (or, rather, her record label) wants you to believe – mysterious, damaged, spurned chanteuse – but her real story. She actually comes across as quite a wannabe. She began recording in 2005, rather than 2011 as she’d like you to think, and recorded three different albums under three different names on two different labels (both of which she had consequently split with) in the 6 year period, trying and failing at different approaches. By 2011 she didn’t have a lot going for her in terms of her music career, despite a move across the Atlantic to Europe to try and improve the situation. The only thing she had on her side was youth: at that point she was just 25. Still, in the terms of the music industry, time was running out.
If you’ve ever heard Video Games, you’ll agree with me when I say it’s one of those few songs big enough to turn around a career which had been languishing for more than half a decade. It’s one of those songs powerful enough to make young hearts and record label profits everywhere soar in unity. It is, in other words, a hit, and appears to have been recognised as such straight away. This recognition climaxed with an appearance on Saturday Night Live at the beginning of 2012; the first chapter of an impressive career.
That’s why I’m confused as to why Lana Del Rey describes the rise of Video Games as such: “I just put that song online a few months ago because it was my favourite. To be honest, it wasn’t going to be the single but people have really responded to it.”. I have no doubt that the record was discovered after being put online, but beyond the facts are unclear. For a start, at that point she was under management (although not signed to a record label). Would anyone with managers really ‘just put a song online’? Of course not. Del Rey’s statement that she did so is designed to hide the machinery she employed to try and rise to the top and, by extension, how badly she wanted success. Add to that the the burial by Del Rey’s modern day team of much of the pre-fame material – one was only discovered if it was leaked in 2012 after being taken out of circulation – and we have someone keen to bury their attempts to achieve success.
Why hide how badly you want success? Because, in a capitalist society, the pursuit of self interest is so fucking mainstream, man. Kurt Cobain knew it, and consequently whined non stop about how much he hated being famous (when in fact he had written newspaper reports in his journal about his imagined future, pre fame). Del Rey seems to be following the same track, commenting that fame is ‘all bad, all of it’. Cry me a river. Or maybe don’t; affected misery at her own situation is clearly an integral part of her image.
Of course, none of Del Rey’s superficiality matters, at all, in relation to her music. It’s just interesting to consider how much even ‘authentic’ musicians like Del Rey are doctered – is authenticity just another brand, to be used and sold?
By the way, the new song is awful. It sounds like being dumped in Year 9 feels, not the tragi-romantic bit you see in films where you cry on your bed and cry your one true love’s name (because you’re not in Shakespeare or Waterloo Road), but the bit where you go home and turn on CBBC and realise that this is the rest of your life, completely dry eyed but completely bored. Every song appeals to an emotion, and Honeymoon appeals to suburban boredom.