Who is Lana Del Rey and what’s with all the controversy?




She’s the singer everyone is talking about, but you can be forgiven for being confused about who the internet’s latest and most-divisive sensation actually is.

For starters, Lana Del Rey is not her real name. It’s a cultivated persona manufactured by the 25-year-old New Yorker, whose real name is Elizabeth Grant.

Her almost instantaneous rise to fame came via a self-made music clip she uploaded to YouTube in August; ‘Video Games’ subsequently went viral and has now been viewed over 26 million times.


It also turned Lana-bashing into a competitive sport. Music bloggers, critics and anyone with an internet connection suddenly had an opinion on the artist with her music, her lips and her family all becoming topics in widespread debate about her authenticity.

Contradiction surrounds the singer in everything from her past –having both lived in a trailer park and also being the daughter of a millionaire who [apparently] bankrolls her career – to her newly released album, ‘Born to Die’, that critics have panned yet has debuted at number one in 13 countries.

There is however, one thing both her fans and music critics agree on. It was her mediocre performance of singles ‘Blue Jeans’ and ‘Video Games’ on Saturday Night Live in January.

In an outrage not seen since Rebecca Black repeatedly sang the word Friday, the flawed performance sent social media into overdrive.

Celebrities took to Twitter, including actress and musician Juliette Lewis who wrote a scathing review, “Wow, watching this ‘singer’ on SNL is like watching a 12-year-old in their bedroom when they’re pretending to sing and perform #signofourtimes.”

Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton –unsurprisingly- also got in on the act, “Just watched SNL. Not only was @LanaDelRey vocally WAY off, but watching her utter lack of stage presence was cringe-worthy.”

Saturday Night Live addressed the backlash this week with a Del Rey parody performed by Kristen Wiig. ‘Del Wiig’ said: “Based on the public’s response, I must have clubbed a baby seal while singing the Taliban national anthem.”

Kristen Wiig as ‘Del Wiig’ on SNL

It seems the gist of the excessive hate stems from the fact she comes from a privileged background and her name is not really Lana Del Rey. Oh that and she has big lips. That may or may not be real. For the record she says they are real.

She also previously released an album under her real name, but it bombed so she re-invented herself as a self-styled “gangster Nancy Sinatra” in Del Rey.

I’m not sure if everyone is suffering from pop music amnesia or if there is a more sexist narrative at play, but Lana Del Rey or Elizabeth Grant is not the only singer to go by a stage name.

Bono’s real name is Paul David Hewson and Sean Combs has changed his stage name to Puff Daddy to P. Diddy then to Diddy and no one seemed to care this much.

Sadly the singer has cancelled her sold-out tour to Australia, with promoters citing an “unprecedented international demand” as a reason for the move but the speculation is the singer wanted to let the Saturday Night Live furore die down.

The star has since redeemed herself performing -this time brilliantly- on David Letterman, but the backlash and praise for Del Rey has everyone confused as to how they feel about the polarised singer. British columnist, Caitlin Moran summed up the controversy with this tweet, ‘Can someone invent a “Lana Del Rey-O-Meter” account that Tweets, every hour, what “we” all think of her right now? I keep missing sea-changes.’

And in a tweet on Tuesday, Australian singer and media personality, Em Rusciano said, “Can SOMEONE tell me if it’s okay to like Lana Del Rey or not? I’m getting mixed messages from the cool people.”

Watch the performances, flick through the gallery and decide for yourself.


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