Sunday, April 20, 2014

W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I. Post 15: Lana Del Rey

This is a series dedicated to women who despite success in the U.S. Music Industry, have est. a very complicated image for themselves.

First things first, I must clarify; this series was on hiatus. Never was it going defunct. Now that that's out of the way, let's get on with the entry...

Round 15 of this series goes to surprise recording artist success, Lana Del Rey. Releasing her next proper album, Ultraviolence, some time in the summer of this year now is a better time than ever to analyze her short in length but already complicated career.
Before her proper debut effort, Lana tried 2 major hands at an identity in recorded music. First, she attempted a career under the stage name May Jailer with an effort known as Sirens. Then she tried Lana Del Ray and had an EP called Kill Kill and an LP named Lana Del Ray (which had a song called "Yayo" which appears on her proper follow up, Paradise albeit re-recorded.)

Her proper LP, Born to Die, was released in January of 2012. The lead single of the album was "Video Games" released in October of 2011. The single was met with critical acclaim; an abridged version of their take: "Internet people; shut the fuck up. This chick sounds weird and I like it." The music video would become something of a viral sensation. Directed and edited by Lana herself, the video mixed in vintage cartoons, skateboarding footage and webcam footage of herself. Her personal YouTube channel version has racked up 56,822,761 and her VEVO version has racked up 58,775,139 on YouTube. Added together that's 115,597,900 views as of now. Despite the internet praise (and kickass live versions on Later...with Jools Holland, Inas Nacht and a performance at the Premises) the song itself peaked at #91 on the Hot 100.

*DIS...IS A CLAIMER* "Video Games" was the only single of this effort to even touch the Hot 100.There were also a LOT of promotional singles thrown in there as well. I'm looking at the songs that I think had the intent of being released as official singles.*

The second single from the album was the title track, "Born to Die". Released in December of 2011, (and the first song/video of hers I had ever seen) the song would go on to receive just as much critical love as her debut single. The official music video was directed by Yoann Lemoine. The tallies are as follows: One posted on her channel has 25,136,630 views and her VEVO version has 146,650,595 views; added up, that's 171,787,225 views on YouTube as of now. Despite more polarizing to favorable views of the song and video, the U.S. peak for this was #31 on the Rock Digital Singles chart.

Third released was "Blue Jeans". Like her singles and videos before her, "Blue Jeans" built on the buzz surrounding her. There are technically 2 videos for this song. One was made by Del Rey, and had the same vintage cartoon and flair of "Video Games" and as of now has 18,864,871 views on YouTube. Another "proper" video by Yoann Lemoine was made for her VEVO and now has 87,162,638 views on YouTube.
Added together that's 106,027,509 views as of now. Despite that, single wise it peaked in the U.S. at #41 on the Rock Songs chart. [A kickass remix of this song was made by Penguin Prison]

Finally, "Summertime Sadness"; the original version. More about that later. Originally released in June of 2012, the song continued the "love or hate" reputation of Del Rey. On her own YouTube channel, the music video racked up 146,032,518 views. The video had her and Jaime King ("Goldie/Wendy" from "Sin City") act as lovers before Lana jumps from a cliff.*

*Which brings up our reminder of whenever an artist/group does something weird, this mantra must be said...

Just roll with it.

Now back to our regularly scheduled analysis...*

Her original version of the song would be her highest of the non Hot 100 peaks, reaching #5 on the Rock songs chart.

Born to Die, despite the polarizing reviews ([] and [] for reference though the list of nice reviews has a sarcastic review but more on that later) would peak at #2 on the Billboard 200.

("Wait; didn't 'National Anthem' make some waves with an appearance by A.$.A.P Rocky as her version of JFK while she played Jackie O?" Yes, but "National Anthem" is a terrible song. We do not talk about that song.)

Having est. a good career template, her next proper follow up; the EP Paradise was released in November of 2012. The only real single would be the second collectively to be released from the album.
First, a cover of  "Blue Velvet" by The Clovers would be released as a promotional tie-in for her album and clothing retailer H&M. The music video was posted by H&M as an advertisement for their 2012 Fall Collection.

Then came the only single single release, "Ride". Released 5 days after "Blue Velvet", "Ride" was released with just as much critical accolade as her previous singles. The music video, despite being 10 minutes long, garnered 47,703,483 views on YouTube. As with her other singles with exception to "Video Games", "Ride" did not reach the Hot 100, but did peak at #21 on the Rock Singles chart.

Then "Burning Desire", which was an iTunes bonus track, was essentially used to promote the Jaguar F-type in a commercial film called "Desire". -_-

Paradise would peak at #10 on the Billboard 200 despite the single not touching the Hot 100. Even better, this EP garnered a Grammy nomination for Del Rey [nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 56th Grammy Awards]

After a short film called "Tropico" was made and released, obvious success started to manifest through the soundtrack for the hated by high-school student book turned movie The Great Gatsby. The single she made for the movie was "Young and Beautiful". The video garnered 75,127,539 views on YouTube. With commercial success of the movie and the general soundtrack going #2 in the U.S., "Young and Beautiful" was not only picked as that album's lead single but it would peak at #22 on the Hot 100. This is officially her highest charting...non-remix single.

Then "Summertime Sadness" (Cedric Gervais remix) was released in July of 2013. This played to the wave EDM [Electronic Dance Music] that had been in U.S. Mainstram since at least 2010 [when David Guetta became a thing] Peaking at #6 on the Hot 100, this became her highest charting single to date and her first Top 10 U.S. single.

As of now, her work includes a song on the soundtrack for the upcoming Disney movie, Maleficent. [It's a cover of "Once Upon a Dream"which is the original "Sleeping Beauty" song] and her anticipated proper follow up LP, Ultraviolence. *FUN Fact: the album is being produced by guitarist and vocalist for the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach. [the "Lonely Boy" band; El Camino]*
The lead single "West Coast" was released in single and audio/music video snippet form on April 14th of this year. As of now, that snippet has garnered 7,340,159 views on YouTube.

So what makes Lana one of many W.W.C.I.I.T.M.I? Apart from singles history and music video imagery, it has to do with her image and live performance history.
Image wise, Lana Del Rey had been maligned in the past for being "created" by A&R to sell records; someone who didn't "pay her dues" [code for "playing piss-ant clubs you can miss by driving past an inch of sidewalk".] something that has been said about Lorde and Kylie Minogue respectively. The main source of criticism of Lana's image came courtesy of Hipster Runoff. This is the nice review laden with sarcasm because originally...they had revealed through internet sleuthing that Lana was like any other struggling artist...but one who met Miley Cyrus in the past. Then, in a move of "What the fuck" sarcasm, the site then became the Lana Del Report. O_O
Live performance wise, she's rather hit and miss. Certain songs in certain venues = gold. Her TV debut was on Later...with Jools Holland [UK] and her U.S. TV debut was on SNL [making her the only singer since Natalie Imbruglia to be on the show and not have an album out {she was pimping Born to Die} at the time]. One got rave reviews, the other had Kristin Wiig appear in an ensemble similar to hers while "defending" her performance. Her make up performance wise came when she performed on the David Letterman show.

In essence, Lana while polarizing has been able to make a name for herself in the U.S. market. Ultraviolence will further this trend regardless of success level.

Keep ears to the ground for Round 16.

No comments:

Post a Comment