Lana Del Rey — Elizabeth Grant (or Lizzy Grant) — has been named as ‘one to watch for 2012′ by many music critics, with her single ‘Video Games’ ear-marked by many as the top highlight of the entire music year. In the view of this (sometimes woefully inaccurate) music critic, it was.
The husky-voiced ‘gangsta Nancy Sinatra’, who gave herself her stage name by combining the first name of old Hollywood actress Lana Turner (The Postman Always Rings Twice) and a Ford car from 1981, is reeked in classic retro influences. These old-school influences — or her ‘masters’ — are Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Jeff Buckley, and Leonard Cohen. In fact, Lana Del Ray has even revealed that she doesn’t listen to any modern music. If you unfortunately caught an episode of Simon Cowell’s X Factor, you will know that this is a very wise choice indeed.
But does this love of past greats, husky voice, and old-school style remind you of anyone? If you watch the video of ‘Video Games’, then I predict that there is a good chance that Amy Winehouse will probably pop into your thoughts!
Well, if not, then she will from now on. Del Rey isn’t writing instantly recognisable Winehouse-esque songs per se (and may not have even listened to ‘Back To Black‘), but they both sound (or sounded) very soulful and heavily influenced by the past, both drawing comparisons with the great Nina Simone.
However, the main connection I can see is in image and retro style — although obviously not the same influences. The late Winehouse’s style was 1960s girl groups (as her beehive hairdo and Cleopatra makeup was nabbed from The Ronettes), while Del Rey herself comes with retro false eyelashes, big lippy pout (which a writer with The Guardian unfairly compared to Daffy Duck), and hair and looks that may cause Lauren Bacall and Brigitte Bardot to contact their legal teams.
In short, the girl and her retro style/looks is a marketer’s dream! You can see advertisers clambering to get Del Rey pouting to sell their products. Alas, the (phoney?) gangsta tag also tries to promote the idea that Lizzy is a bad girl — which never really harms sales, does it? Winehouse wasn’t known to be the Mother Teresa of music either you know. It could be argued that Del Rey is almost a polished American version of Winehouse. This might be a savvy marketing ploy … or, just a coincidence.
Whatever the case, let’s just keep Lana Del Rey away from the booze.
Anyway, Del Rey’s retro vibes has led to ‘style over substance’ comments by people eager to get involved in the backlash. Rumours that Del Rey has been ‘created’ by music producers have been doing the rounds on music blogs, but even the biggest cynic can’t possibly deny that this girl has great talent and, in our superficial times, has the femme fatale looks to make the record-buying — sorry, download-buying — public go weak at the knees during 2012.
Her debut album Born To Die will be released in late January 2012. Watch the promo video for the title track at this link.