The New Myrmidon Of Melodrama: From The Shangri-las To Lana Del Rey
"I think that when you perform music people are always looking for a certain image or a box to put you in...it's not necessarily true. It never was true."
There's been a lot of talk (and I mean negative) about Lana Del Rey lately, so I thought a bit about whether or not the Snake needed to chime in. I usually try to zero in on the obscure and relatively unknown; once an act makes it to Saturday Night Live, they sure as hell don't need me. The mission statement is, however, to defend the unfairly maligned. This chick qualifies. I've got a view on the matter that somehow seems to have gone unexpressed up until now-
Lana Del Rey is the new Shangri-Las.
The Shangri-las and dozens of other girl groups emerged after the deaths of James Dean, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper and before the emergence of the counterculture. An odd period for American Pop ruled by producers at the Brill Building, when Tin Pan Alley had a go at Rock & Roll. The singers weren't writing their own songs, the bands were fabricated, and everyone was on the label payroll. This was when Phil Spector was rolling cold. It's a sort of blindspot in history, it's not often talked about. Even though most people know and dig the songs from somewhere or another (maybe any number of movies made by nostalgic baby boomers), they might not know about the way it worked. Total artifice, top to bottom.
The issue with Lana Del Rey, the reason for all the controversy, is that she's inauthentic. She portrays herself (or is being portrayed), as a sort of ingenue lost in the world, obsessed with glamor and death. With tragic and gritty life experiences, most of which are centered around a naive love/lust for a dirtbag who doesn't deserve her. A melodramatic personae to be sure, a character. And this is precisely what Mary Weiss was.
An actress, cast in a role written by Shadow Morton.
But does that mean that the emotion is false and that the sentiments could never be real, since the lyrics are scripted? I don't think of Lana Del Rey or Mary Weiss as liars. I think of them as actresses. I fathom that once they were in front of the microphone the sentiment behind what and how they sang was channeled from absolute reality, and the characters were conjured up from truth, and that's pretty compelling.
"The recording studio was the place that you could release what you're feeling...without everybody looking at you."
Posted by Rocko Jerome at 2/04/2012