This Is What Makes Us Girls: A Defense of Lana Del Rey

by: Marissa Morales

Not since Ashlee Simpson has an artist had quite such a memorable performance on Saturday Night Live. You, know the bad kind of memorable. The artist I am speaking of is, of course, Lana Del Rey. Lana Del Rey was hyped as the second coming for hipster music aficionados. She was a throwback, with a splash of hip hop that had a pout that resembled Brigitte Bardot. She was hyped to be the something great. And then, with one fell swoop she created such an intense backlash, she was shunned from the music community. Suddenly it became, Lana Del Who?

I, for one, am in full support of Miss Del Rey, for many a reason.  I am not going to sit here and analyze the fact that she is the product of intense marketing. That’s not what this is about. This is about giving Miss Del Rey a chance, and giving props for the work she has given us. Yes, image is important, and yes, she is quite pretty, and yes, that may mean she is a plastic surgeon’s masterpiece. Last I checked though, that has no effect on her voice.

The first time I listened to her album, “Born to Die,” I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of time giggling. Hearing her whisper “Pabst Blue Ribbon on ice,” is pretty laughter inducing.  After that initial listen, I remember thinking, “Well she’s not the worst thing, but… I can do without it.” Cut to me humming every track of that album for a solid two weeks. Clearly, the girl knows how to write catchy pop music.

Her music is different from anything I’ve heard come out lately. It’s very poppy, but it’s not Katy Perry bubblegum. Lana Del Rey’s music is dark, and when you listen to the songs more closely, they’re quite tragic and certainly not dripping with sugar. Her voice can make the transition from husky vixen to a pouty Jessica Rabbit. I dig that.

Tracks like “Off to the Races” and “Blue Jeans” tell tragic tales of being in love with a drug addict, but Lana makes it sound so romantic. They sound like the perfect soundtrack to a Janet Fitch book. Lana has the tendency to make the most depressing situations sound so incredibly sexy and beautiful. Because when I listen to her, I just feel this musical sex surrounding me, fitting me better than my favorite sweater. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist).

“This is What Makes Us Girls” struck a nerve for me, she nailed it. Young girls and young women care less about our fellow ladies, and more about falling in love. That song pegs the feeling most girls had at the age of sixteen. It was about experimentation and being on the brink of womanhood, and trying to convince yourself that you were there. It’s honest, which is something you don’t get from pop music unless it’s tongue in cheek, or just blatantly a gimmick. (Really, you kissed a girl and you liked it? But married and subsequently divorced a man? Please, tell me more). It’s a rarity, and Lana Del Rey does it in a beautiful way.

Lana sings about what she, and most of us, know about, heartbreak and being reckless. It’s a wonderful phase of life, and listening to her croon can make you long for that time. And if you are in that time, give her a chance, she will provide the perfect soundtrack. She is selling reckless youth, and she sells it well. It would seem that she sells it well, because she lived it. Some of these lyrics are just far too specific. Sometimes it feels like she’s singing stories to her friends, like we’re in some drug-induced musical.

A song like “Million Dollar Man” brings to mind Fiona Apple, you know, with less crazy. And yes, I am comparing Lana Del Rey to Fiona Apple and I make no apologies. Lana’s sound is so incredibly unique, it brings to mind the angsty folk of Apple, along with a throwback sound that was once owned solely by British songstresses, with a hip-hop vibe thrown in. It’s not a combination easily pulled off.

Lana shouldn’t be remembered for a less than stellar performance on Saturday Night Live, she should be given the chance she deserves. Listen to her, make reckless decisions, it’s the way of summer. She will provide you with the correct ambience. Sure she’s quirky (how can you date Axl Rose and not be?) but she’s also fun. And at worst, there is nothing more fun than having one too many and giving unsolicited Lana Del Rey impressions at parties. Not that I would know anything about that.

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