Born to Die

As I was thinking about leaving work to go home (I tend to work until I’ll too tired to do anything reliably well) I texted Candy if she needed anything from Target. She texted back that she wanted some reduced-fat graham crackers. Everything is so exciting in this – the best of all possible worlds.

I was going to stop at Target because today is when Lana Del Rey’s album dropped. I’ve been a fan for a while now and have written too much about her before. Still, I wanted the CD. I could have downloaded it from iTunes or Amazon, but… maybe I’m a bit of an old fart – but I still like to have something in my hands for my hard-earned money.

Plus, a little surfing at lunch told me that Target was selling the real, live, and solid Compact Disk for eight bucks – plus two bonus tracks. A pretty good deal. There were only two left when I got there.

So, do you want a review? How can you review music? Like always – Lana Del Rey is the kind of thing you will like if you like this kind of thing.

She is criticized for being fake – and she is. Her music is a lush laconic illusion. There isn’t much there, but there is a vision, however manufactured, and the vision is unique, entertaining and fun to listen to. In this age of the music “industry” what more can you expect? The title song starts with the words, “feet don’t fail me now.” I like that.

Christ, who knows what’s good and what isn’t in these days? I have a stack of albums that once meant a lot to me; I thought that the sounds from them were genius. I turned to these for solace during difficult times and now I can’t even listen to them anymore because they take me back to those times and I can feel the panic rising. I wish I was young and listening to Lana Del Rey – she is better if you don’t have to worry about anything. Shit, why waste time writing about something you don’t like? Life is way too short.

Here, I’ll list just a few of the WordPress blogs from the last few hours with a Lana Del Rey tag. Read ’em and make up your own mind, please, while I try to get some short story scenes pounded out, ride my exercise bike for a while, and listen to Born to Die on repeat.

Don’t listen to me, I couldn’t even find the reduced-fat graham crackers.

Oh, I do have one legitimate complaint… one of my favorite Del Rey works, Kinda Outta Luck, isn’t on the CD. Well, at any rate, here it is. For your pleasure.


Lana Del Rey on Saturday Night Live

I first stumbled across a link to Lana Del Rey’s Video Games video in… I guess June of last year. That’s only a little more than six months – an eon on the hyped up internet world of mass entertainment. I was immediately hooked by the quirky vocals and grungy video. I really couldn’t say it was good… but it was different – and I liked it. I liked it enough to waste a blog entry on it (and now I’m doing it again).

Back then, very few folks had heard of her. I posted a link to my blog on her facebook page, she commented a thank you. But there was an undercurrent building on the internet. My blog entry was getting a steady stream of search engine hits.

A bunch of Nick’s friends were at the house with a laptop hooked up to the 65 inch screen in Club Lee so I had them scoot to YouTube, watch and listen. They hated it. It was way too slow and lugubrious for their youthful taste.

Over the last month, several of them have told me that Lana Del Rey was going to be on Saturday Night Live. The funny thing is, they deny telling me they didn’t like the song.

So for the last few months I’ve watched while Lana Del Rey blew up. She became big in Europe, then signed a record deal with Interscope, and now she has passed the hurdles, was on SNL last night, and will be on the cover of every major music rag/mag as one of the hottest things for 2012.

What I have been enjoying the most has been the (inevitable?) backlash against her apparent inevitable success (I think she is the first artist to appear on SNL without even having a record out). I can understand someone not liking her music (it’s odd and she’s not a very good singer) but that is not even mentioned. It seems the reason that the blogs can’t stand her is:

A – her real name is not Lana Del Rey, and

B – her father is very wealthy, and

C – her looks – she looks good but her lips are too big (injections?)

I’m sorry, but none of these things means much to me. I don’t care about her “street cred” or anything like that. I don’t even care about her looks. Lana Del Rey is obviously a creation of somebody, maybe Elizabeth Grant, maybe a team of highly-paid publicists… probably both.

What in popular music is not something totally artificial? If she is a little more plastic, a little more out-front with the image, a bit more calculated… so what. I like the songs. They are different. That’s enough for me.


The question is… how did she do on SNL? The answer is terrible. She doesn’t look like she is used to performing in front of a live audience and her two songs were strange and awkward. Actually I knew she would be bad.  Her act is not one that is suited to the SNL format – she is not active and out there enough. Even the Huffington Post thought she bombed.

Of course, if you look through the negative reviews… they keep referring to the same people. I like stuff that is different. I like stuff that isn’t so polished. I like someone that acts as if she just realized she is on live TV in front of millions of people singing songs that they are simply not prepared for. I like something that isn’t Autotuned to death. I like to see someone that is out there knowing that the long knives are all out.

Did you watch it and think she sucked? Good for you.

Video Games was her first song and I still really like it, but it doesn’t come across live like it does on the video. I thought the second song, Blue Jeans went a little better, I thought – it has more life than the monotone mood of Video Games and gave her a bit more to do.

So am I disappointed? Hell no. I thought it was enjoyable… if it wasn’t what everyone expected… so much the better. It was different, and that counts for a lot, in my book.

I remember the first time I saw Saturday Night Live. It was October 25, 1975, the third show, with host Rob Reiner. The new show wasn’t getting any promotion and really, nobody knew anything about it. This was my sophomore year at Kansas University. Back then, a large group of us would get together on Saturday nights, pile onto a friend’s waterbed and watch Monty Python on a tiny black and white television (none of us had any money to go out or do anything more interesting). There were two episodes back to back on two different PBS stations (from Topeka and Kansas City). After Python was done, someone started flipping channels to find something else to watch and I remember yelling, “Hey there’s Joe Cocker… lets watch this,” so we did.

It didn’t take long to realize that this wasn’t Joe Cocker… it was Belushi doing Joe Cocker, and before long he was thrashing around on the floor in an epileptic fit. It was fantastic. So, from then on, we would all pile onto the waterbed and watch Monty Python and Saturday Night Live.

Everyone is familiar with the ups and downs of the show over the decades. I have slowly lost interest… last night was the first time I’ve watched SNL in at least three years.

Even if Lana Del Rey’s performance wasn’t the most polished and dynamic I’ve ever seen, she was better than that weird British teenager that was the host.

WordPress Blogs on her performance:

Takedown of the Day

Lana Del Rey’s SNL Performance Painful To Watch

In defense of Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey on Jools Holland (where she did really well live)

Sunday Ramblings

Bu kızın adını çok duyacağız…

Lana Del Rey Comes To ‘Saturday Night Live’ And Leaves Controversies Behind

A Few Artists to Watch For

Let’s Talk About Last Night’s SNL

Musical Ladies of 2012

3 Female Buzzbands I Don’t “Get”

For the Love of the Genre

Fabulous Cover: Lana del Rey, Intervention Russia

Quote of the day, 1/15

Eight Female Singers Who Caught My Imagination In 2011

What I learned this week, December 23, 2011

The most important books I have read (recently)

The War of Art

and its companion

Do The Work

From Steven Pressfield

I’ve been a fan of Lana Del Rey for a long time (well, since June. In the world of modern pop culture, seven months is an eternity). It looks like she is going to break out – she has signed to Interscope Records and her album, Born to Die, will be out on January 31.

Best of all, it looks like she will be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on January 14.

Another single is out in the UK – Off to the Races. I’m not sure about it yet…

What I really am enjoying is that Lana Del Rey is rapidly becoming a polarizing artist – even though she doesn’t even have a real record or a real career yet – she is piling up the haters.

I love it…. You see, I know what I like, and I like Lana Del Rey.

Whenever you are feeling good, maybe full of holiday cheer. When you feel hope welling up within your breast and you know that mankind has a bright future ahead of him in this best of all possible worlds.

When you feel like that, read this next article and be reminded that we are all, all completely doomed.

Young brother eats cocaine from older sibling’s butt, then dies of overdose,

Believe it or not, the actual story is even worse than the headline suggests.

What I learned this week, December 16, 2011 (short film and video edition)

I knew these two brothers, Lance and Dan Hubp, in high school, in Panama

While I’m posting short films… most of y’all have seen this one before – it’s a little film a friend of Nick and Lee did a few years ago. That’s Lee driving, and the kids’ Mustang. Of course the key to the whole thing is the subtle acting ability of the “Gas Station Attendant.”

When you are camping indoors, be careful about the bears.

Yes, of course, this is from Ghost World

I have been a fan of Lana del Rey for a long time. Here’s her new video.

Lana Del Rey

I have a new favorite song, Video Games by Lana Del Rey.

Good Stuff. Really good stuff. The song has a lilting laconic hook to it which, coupled with the heartfelt, provocative lyrics make it irresistable. The lush orchestral arrangement adds a bit of nostalgic contrast that is very welcome.

Love the video too. I wonder what game the exploding Eiffel Tower at the begining is from?

Another one of her songs, Kinda Outta Luck, is different, more of a pop gangster bit of fluff with fun edgy lyrics – Is it wrong wrong that I think it’s kinda fun when I hit you in the back of the head with a gun?

Love the Film Noir stuff in the video.

The only problem is I can’t figure out how to buy any of her music (either under Lana Del Rey or Lizzy Grant). She had an album out at one time, but I can’t find it. All I have so far are the youtube videos.

For now, that’ll do. I’ve been working on a time management thing called the Pomodoro Technique. I’ll write more about it some time later, but the basic premise is you use a kitchen timer to work for twenty five minutes, then take a five minute break. I keep a list of favorite youtube music videos to watch in my little mini breaks – and Video Games has moved to the top of the list.

That’s a nice break offsite when I’m writing (that’s where the Pomodoro thing is working best for me) but it doesn’t cut it at work work. The whole break thing is not something that’s easy to pull off. There’s an old Dilbert Cartoon where he is told, “Job satisfaction is the same as stealing time from the company.” You have to at least appear to be slaving away at all times or else you are not earning your wage, and in this best of all possible worlds, that is not acceptable. There are starving kids in Africa that would love to have your job.

In one of her interviews, Lizzy Grant refers to herself as a “Gangster Nancy Sinatra.” In honor of that, here’s a real Nancy Sinatra video – another one I watch sometimes during my Pomodoro breaks.

This is her first television appearance, on Jools Holland.

And another new version of Video Games

From the same venue, Blue Jeans