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It’s been a rather interesting couple of weeks for Lana Del Rey, beginning with the rather robust online debate over her “Saturday Night Live” performance, and then the subsequent fallout following that performance, in which everyone from “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams to comedian Whitney Cummings weighed in, voicing both derision and support for the singer.
Not surprisingly, Del Rey would prefer to put the matter behind her and focus instead on her upcoming major-label debut, Born to Die (due January 31). As she told MTV News, the album represents her attempt to “re-create myself in song form,” a majestic, maudlin collection of dramatic torch songs that recalls everything from Thomas Newman’s “American Beauty” score to “[Bruce] Springsteen’s summertime sadness.”
“Sonically, I always knew exactly what I wanted,” Del Rey said. “That’s really the only thing I do know. The rest of it was sort of up in the air. I’ve been a writer for a really long time, and a sort of bad composer, but a composer nonetheless. It was something I did alone for some time and then became a collaborative effort as I met better and better people.”
You can still find traces of Lizzy Grant online. There is a video, dated 8 June 2009, that shows a young, casually dressed blonde woman in a green T-shirt and jeans singing alone on stage at a New York music show called The Variety Box. Grant’s voice was strong, but she seemed shy and spoke quietly to the audience to a smattering of applause.
Grant looked like any one of hundreds of young artists trying to make it in the clubs and bars of New York, singing their hearts out in the hope that one day they will be spotted. After all, that’s how big names from Bob Dylan to Lady Gaga got their breaks. But success never happened to Lizzy Grant. Her one and only album sank virtually without trace.
However, fame did happen to someone called Lana Del Rey, a 25-year-old sultry, seductive songstress who is the current hottest name in US music and whose debut album is one of the most eagerly awaited events in the industry this year. It comes out on 31 January.
Del Rey’s image is nothing like Grant’s. The video for her new song, provocatively called Born To Die, is slick and lavishly produced. The short film begins with her posing half-naked with a tattooed, shirtless man in front of the stars and stripes, then shows her sitting on a throne in a figure-hugging white dress flanked by two tigers. By the end of the video, she is covered in blood, wearing only a red bra. It is over-the-top and wildly eccentric.
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