Another aspect of Lana Del Rey’s music and persona that is often criticised is her repetitive and unashamed use of clichés. Her use of cliché is especially prevalent in her first album ‘Born To Die’, which, comically is a cliché in itself. A particular favourite of Del Rey’s is the idea of “Dying young” which she references in ‘Ride’ and a few other songs on the record, along with “Living fast”, waiting “a million years”, being in love “till the end of time” and explaining how she wants to “kiss in the pouring rain”. Many of the songs on her first record are but a shameless strings of clichés – which are easy, almost too easy, to criticise. What many fail to see is that this is exactly the beauty of Lana Del Rey’s music that I explained earlier; it is relatable because clichés are relatable.
Lana Del Rey’s aesthetic is interesting, her music and iconography are inundated with 1960’s Americana and nostalgia; her music videos are saturated with the star spangled banner, blue jeans, mountain dew and Marilyn Monroe references. In her short film ‘Tropico’ Lana Del Rey even goes as far as to impersonate Marilyn Monroe singing happy birthday to President John F. Kennedy, and later refers to Elvis Presley as her “daddy” in ‘Body Electric’. Listening to Lana Del Rey’s music summons ideas of American society, freedom, women in art, women in nationalist iconography and sex while all the while not really addressing these topics fully. She appears to induce deeply political ideas, whilst being almost whimsical and frivolous about them. Her vague lyrics lend themselves to a vague address of such issues, which allows her listeners to make whatever they want of her music – as Buzzfeed writer Ayesha Siddiqi puts it, Lana Del Rey provides us with a “palatable Americana: full of no more sentiment than an Instagram grid”.
It is a well-known fact that Lana Del Rey is a stage name for the artist Elizabeth Grant. My interpretation of this is that ‘Lana Del Rey’ is not solely a covering name, but a whole persona completely separate to that of her creator. As Grant flippantly explained in an interview for MTV, she wanted to choose a name that ‘sounded exotic’ and reminded her of the ‘seaside’, that she could ‘shape the music towards’ – Grant does not deny or try to hide the fact that her ‘Lana Del Rey’ character is not actually her, and rather just a means of formulating interesting music. This is why she feels no reason to defend her music against her critics, because Lana Del Rey’s whole existence is a fabrication, a mere caricature.
What I admire the most about Lana Del Rey is her ability to capture and delicately articulate so many paradoxes and contradictions. The contradiction of a woman’s reliance, dependence and insecurity whilst still maintaining an unprecedented strength and sense of control over her relationship. The paradox of forming idiosyncratic, original pieces of music by simply stringing together cliché after cliché. It is almost as if Lana Del Rey’s style is intentionally paradoxical, it is unusual for an artist to address problems with hard drug addictions and violent relationships whilst still maintaining a sweet, bubblegum baby Lolita-esque image. No other artists swear at their listeners with a softer voice than Lana Del Rey.
Image credits: http://lanadelrey.com/gallery/