It's been a week since Lana Del Rey's performance on SNL sparked an internet furor. That's a career on the web! Anyone who hasn’t been on a desert island for the last six months and with half an eye pointed at the entertainment blogs will be aware of Lana Del Rey by now. For some it’s been a fascinating example of the ‘old model’ music biz and their wicked old ways. Interscope - which even sounds like a James Bond Evil Empire type of deal to me – has manufactured a classic pop princess, albeit a darker and moodier one. Imagine Justin Bieber with longer hair; a grumpier adolescent girl, stoned on Nabakov and pot.

This has provoked a shit storm of vitriol in the blogosphere for some reason. Though quite what the fuss is about I do not know.  Manipulating and squeezing every dime out of music fans is what Interscope and their ilk have always done best isn’t it? As my friend Charlie Roth, a New York musician and producer put it:

“Interscope is so bad ass'd that they stole Death Row Records out of the hands of....DRUG DEALERS.”

For what it’s worth I liked the songs I’d heard so far. ‘Video Games’ is a great little tune. Interscope, perhaps scared of burning out their new prodigy before her album ‘Born to Die’ is released at the end of the month yesterday ‘leaked’ her new record, with it a lush and cinematic video to the title track ‘Born To Die’. When I saw the video my good natured tolerance towards the new Lolita on the block evaporated. It is shocking.

The song itself is a gloomy song about having fun now because we're all going to die soon. It's no 'Born to Run', but it would like to be.

 Choose your last words/This is the last time/Because you and I/We were born to die.

 ‘Born to Die’ is swaying ballad full of existential misery and trip hop drums. Drenched in John Williams style orchestration, some twangy guitar and Lana Del Rey’s brooding vocal it’s a rich and expensive sounding song and it’s not bad. Nothing weird there. The video, however, made me really uneasy. As so often in these grandiose three minute epics the story seemed to bear little relation to the song and this new storyboard put quite a different slant on the lyrics.

The Video shows Lizzy or Lana as she is now, draped across four posters, sitting on thrones, wandering around cathedrals with tigers and lounging in arms of an half naked male model. This particular variation on a time honored theme is a grumpy tattooed, hipster type who looks like he just moved into his daddy’s warehouse condo in Williamsburg to find out he’s got to park his 1974 Chevy Buicksterfordmoblie two blocks away, on the street.

Lana is then seen in various poses with this rocket-scientist-in-waiting being threatened with fingers pointed gun-like or being delivered from the shadows at her the in universal sign language for throat slitting. At one point he gently holds by her throat. He kisses her against her will (twice) before she ends up dead. Yes, dead with the inked up buffoon cradling her bloody corpse in his spindly arms. The burning wreck of his precious car (presumably) is scattered in the background.

Interscope’s edgy new siren might well be the newest upstart pop toy to be cast out of an old mold. Who cares? That’s the music business but her depiction as a punching bag and a murder victim? That really is something to get pissed off about.

Neville Elder is a freelance writer and founder of the Folk Rock band Thee Shambels He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Tags: Bieber, Blacklash, Born, Bruce, Del, Die, Elder, Games, Interscope, John, More…Justin, Lana, Live, Lorne, Michaels, Neville, Night, Rey, Run, SNL, Saturday, Shambels, Springsteen, Thee, To, Video, Williams, lanadelrey

Comment by Kyla Fairchild on January 25, 2012 at 8:46am

Great post Neville. The video is super creepy. Women's rights activists will have a hey day with this one. It'll be interesting to watch how the blogosphere reacts to this after the SNL debacle.

Comment by Jack Williams on January 26, 2012 at 10:07am

"When I saw the video my good natured tolerance towards the new Lolita on the block evaporated."

My sentiments exactly.

Comment by Hal Bogerd on January 26, 2012 at 12:26pm

As I watch: still from a bad porn movie, Narnia, teen sex make out movie, Narnia, young stoned Julia Roberts, Narnia, David Lynch parody, Narnia, bad porn ending.

Comment by Neville Elder on January 26, 2012 at 12:36pm

below is a remarkable personal insight into the LDR set up from an early collaborator:

How Blockhead got mugged.

Comment by Kyla Fairchild on January 26, 2012 at 1:08pm

Thanks for digging that up Neville. Very interesting insights and a great read. I read the one from now and the one from when he worked with her, both great.  I loved this quote: "Finding a happy shmedium is key to making pop music; It has to be simple but not too simple, predictable but not too predictable, catchy in the most bland way possible, and, most of all, play towards the lowest common denominator."

Comment by Will James on January 26, 2012 at 1:09pm

Wasn't even going to watch this, but as a huge fan of several things mentioned (David Lynch, C.S. Lewis, Nabokov, teen sex, well I'll stop there), I watched it. I also like hot-looking women with red lipstick in gorgeous white gowns (shoot me), tigers, and great cathedral architecture. Good lighting and production value, all good things. Also what would pop music be without classic cars and the obligatory car crash, with one lover surviving. So I kinda liked it. Lose the "trip hop drums" and I really like it.

Comment by Neville Elder on January 26, 2012 at 1:21pm

Absolutely Kyla, Also:

'But, right then, I got it; this was the creation of pop music. I honestly had never given it much thought, it was taking something rough and shining it down to a dull glow.'

How Blockhead got mugged..#2

Comment by Will James on January 26, 2012 at 1:44pm

I assume you all are defining pop music today. Two words: Pet Sounds. Hardly "dull glow" or "happy shmedium" for the best pop music ever. Many other examples, mainly from back in the day.

Comment by Jack Williams on January 26, 2012 at 1:48pm

I have to say that I do enjoy the song to some extent, but boy, that video does creep me out some.   

The video did make me think of the video for this Nick Cave song from his Murder Ballads album.   I enjoy the song to the point where I taught myself to play it (well, strum it) on guitar.  The video does have its creep factor, though.

Comment by Neville Elder on January 26, 2012 at 2:01pm

interesting comparison. Nick Cave's OTT tongue in cheek video seems acceptable to me..I wonder why that is? Is it mere irony that saves it? Or is the violence that is more explicit in LDR ? How do we accept tales of murder and violence against women in folk songs? 'Knoxville Girl' in it's earliest form came from Ireland but it's a murder none the less and plenty of people play it as a staple today. Including me.


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.