2012-04-17

The haters seem to be slowing down.
Time for my defense of Lana Del Rey.

.

Poor, deceived hipsters

That hipsters were tricked into liking something corporate makes me feel not even a little bad. Like music for what it is. Needing someone to tell you what to hate isn't different from needing someone to tell you what to like.


But srsly---corporate makeover?

While I admit that Lizzy Grant working with a bunch of suits then coming out the other end as Lana Del Rey is offputting, it is, after all, part of a great American tradition. Check out the Kristen Wiig version of Lana defending the real Lana (skip ahead to 3:15):



Selling out is a great American tradition. In and of itself I just don't think it's sufficient reason to dismiss someone as a money-grubbing whore. It's a solid piece of evidence, but insufficient to convict.
I learned that there's no reason why people decide they like music when they do. Even if you're the best singer in the world, there's a good chance no one will ever hear you. You make a decision to keep singing or to stop. I've been singing in Brooklyn since I was 17 and no one in the industry cared at all. I haven't changed a thing since then and yet things seem to be turning around for me. Perhaps the angels decided to shine on me for a little while.
(x via y)


Woman-hating woman

Hard to respect the point-of-view character in "Off to the Races," I grant you. Here's the chorus:
And I'm off to the races, cases of Bacardi chasers
Chasin' me all over town 'cause he knows I'm wasted
Facin' time again on Rikers Island and I won't get out
Because I'm crazy baby,
I need you to come here and save me
I'm your little scarlet, starlet, singin' in the garden
Kiss me on my open mouth
Ready for you

And there are more characters like this in Born to Die---characters that seem born of a misogynist mind. Lana Del Rey who, at first glance, seemed like a woman who was going to be strong like Billie and take the songstress persona and recreate it with the sensibility of a Tori . . . or at least an Alanis.

Del Rey isn't the pop star we've come to expect in at least one other sense: The songs on her new album, Born to Die, aren't only small—they're powerless. Which is to say, she writes about women who are unhinged and consumed by the love their men provide.

FAIL.

Or did she?

Let me put one word in your mind, then go read the next session. We'll get back to it shortly.

The word is:

SATIRE.


Lolita

I was surprised this accusation wasn't the first and the loudest made. But it finally did show up, and rightly so, and now it has gotten a little loud. As Luke O'Neil says,
In “Off to the Races,” she pays direct homage to Lolita, quoting Vladimir Nabokov, when she sings I'm the “light of your life, fire of your loins” over the persistent soundtrack of playground noises and children in the background.

In “Put Me in a Movie” she is the most straight forward about her pedophile undertones when she begs, “Come on you know you like little girls. Come on you know you like little girls. You can be my Daddy.”
And that's not even mentioning that the new album has a bonustrack called---wait for it---"Lolita". You read that right.

All great songs. All imminently hummable. All likely to get stuck in your head. Ergo, we had better address this.

We won't make excuses for her because of pedaphilia's historical and current prominence in pop music (for the record, I never call my baby baby without an accompanying dose of irony), but that is backgroud that should be considered. And while the corporate issues discussed above take what I'm about to say into serious question, I do think that we have to accept as very real the possibility that Lizzy is purposefully pushing these typical pop-music posturings into an absurd space where we are forced to stand back and say, yes, this is ridiculous. I can't possibly take this stuff seriously.

But wait.

Then why do I take it seriously every other time I turn on the radio?

And while we're at it, I would like to point out that what we're really talking about here is not pedophilia---or even hebephilia, probably. But ephebophilia or maybe even collegeagedgirlsophilia, which I think is significantly different from pedophila or hebephlia. Not that I'm in favor of older men picking up much younger women, but I think if we're honest we have to admit there's a difference between lusting after a seven-year-old and lusting after a seventeen-year-old. (Even if I'm prone to arguing that a 2012 17er is probably less prepared for sex and marriage than a 1712 17er.)

Now let's get into my satire argument.

Here's an extended quotation from "Lolita":
Would you be mine? Would you be my baby tonight?
Could be kissing my fruit punch lips in the bright sunshine
'Cause I like you quite a lot, everything you got, don't you know
It's you that I adore, though I make the boys fall, like dominos

Kiss me in the D.A.R.K dark tonight
D.A.R.K., do it my way
Kiss me in the P.A.R.K. park tonight
P.A.R.K., let them all say

Hey, Lolita, hey
Hey, Lolita, hey
I know what the boys want, I'm not going to play
Hey, Lolita, hey
Hey, Lolita, hey
Whistle all you want, but I'm not going to say

No more skipping rope, skipping heart beats
With the boys down town
Just you and me, feeling the heat
Beating when the sun goes down

I could be yours, I could be your baby tonight
Topple you down from your sky, forty stories high
Shining like a god, can't believe I got, you inside
Look at what I've got, might have second thoughts, oh, Romeo

Ah, Romeo. And his almost-fourteen bride. I may be inadvertently invoking Poe's Law here, but I've listened to this album dozens of times. And I'm convinced Lizzy's dopey lolitas are not evidence of misogyny or childhood sexysex or anything other than a sly mocking of these trope's pervasiveness in modern pop music. And if you're waiting for Lizzy to crack a smile first, you're missing the point. As soon as she starts laughing, her effectiveness ends. I'm not about to call her a genius or anything, but if she's doing what I think she's doing, then she's at the very least a bold artist who has found a way around the suits to deliver her political message.

So take issue with the idiotic unliberated women and the blatant lolitas in her story-songs, but at least admit, as you do so, that her intent may well be satirical.


She's dating Axl Rose

Wha---?

No defense for that.

None at all.

Gross.

Can I get sued if I call fiftyyrold Axl a justgotanMAagedwomanaphiliac?

3 comments:

  1. .

    A quick mea culpa:

    I didn't get very deep into any textual analysis---this was already getting long for a blogpost---so my proof is a bit weak. We can hash that over here, though.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I haven't listened to her a lot, but I liked what I heard.

    ReplyDelete
  3. .

    It's hard not to. It's great music. So the questions of whether she's "legit" and "what about those lyrics" strike me as worth asking.

    ReplyDelete