Sometimes in music, artists just need cheap tricks to hit the charts and fame. But you rarely see the conventional meeting genuine uncanny to create success. Singer and songwriter Lana del Rey seems to have this sort of artistic aura. And I wonder what she has that makes her so special, and how long it will last.
She stands as the atypical pop star. Lana hit big numbers with her first album Lana del Rey in 2010. In 2012, Born to Die sold more than 1.1 million copies and is still on the Billboard Top 200 Albums. Her latest releaseUltraviolence was close to 2 million and hit number one in 2014. She’s also been nominated to the Grammy and the Golden Globe Awards.
But, there is no doubt she is a different animal
Her sound is too soluble and hard to label. You can call it indie pop -and I would say more indie than pop. You can call it psychedelic rock or baroque pop. But the truth is that it has all of the above and beyond. It has jazz, folk, and bluegrass all refined with a vintage color that is also difficult to relate to any decade, or better yet, that belongs to several ones.
Her sound doesn’t have the flavor of the average pop singer. Most of her songs vibrate in the same string of slow and stately tempo. So is the mood of her lyrics. The average pop record in the market seeks balance with slow, medium and upbeat rhythms. We could say her sound is sad core and the lyrics are complex in meaning rather than wording. They question elementary values at individual and national scales, another distinction from mainstream artists.
As striking as Lana del Rey’s sound, is her imagery. Although she is a highly elaborated product, the aesthetics of her projection are considerably unconventional. Models in most of her music videos are regular people unlike the sleek perfection of the sexually induced music industry. Her look is kind of simple and even resembles the conservative, well-educated American girl, an image most female pop stars want to be far from.
Her bodily expression conveys her music perfectly. One thing that deeply calls my attention is the fact that she almost never smiles in pictures, live performances, or music videos. Lana doesn’t rely either on dance moves or stage motion to deliver her message.
So, how long will it take for her to spoil, if she ever does?
The industry model is tight when it comes to catapult artists as global mega stars. This is especially true for females. At some point, they need to shake the booties, go a little skinned, and play catchy songs if they want to fill stadiums worldwide. I’ve seen it with many artists before.
Think about Shakira, who back in the day was the typical rocker with leather pants, boots, and black long hair to the waist. Yeah, that was before the crossover turned her into a blond semi-naked dancing star. Even Adele had to soften her music from a very experimental fusion in her breakout 19 to a well trimmed second album 21.
Lana already has the potential for conversion. She is already beautiful. Despite rumors that she’s had lip augmentation procedures; her sexiness rests in her mysterious demeanor.
After three albums and growing success, she remains the same so far. However, I wouldn’t be too surprised if things change. Only she knows what she wants for the future of her career. Maybe her wealthy upbringing allows her the freedom to be exactly who she wants as an artist.
Lana del Rey is selling out arenas for her 2015 North American Tour. It might be our last chance to see the real her. Who knows.