There’s nothing worse than when major labels tell you what you should like. An artist or a band is suddenly plastered everywhere, their face is all over music television, and the babbling goons that invariably host primetime radio slots are constantly dribbling on about them as if their paychecks depend on it. A good recent example was that awful Gotye song (I mean seriously, fuck that song) that was suddenly everywhere despite being as beige as John Key’s underwear. (Even the video is literally fucking beige).
This is how I felt about Lana Del Rey when her name and face suddenly appeared on every billboard, magazine cover and blog seemingly overnight. My highly trained music snob instincts instantly smelled a rat. Claims of “the next Adele” should immediately send your bullshit radar into overdrive: for a start, why are we always looking for the next of something we already have? Why can’t we just look for something good and new? And I like Adele just fine (great voice, great songs) but I resent being forced to listen to anyone, no matter how good, on radio and TV whenever I turn them on. The radio at my gym (rock and roll, I know) plays the same Adele song at the same time every single night: who are these people that don’t own her album yet, but still want to tune in to radio and hear her song every day? It is up there with pineapple on pizza and people that overuse the phrase “Oh my god!” on the list of things that really piss me off.
So after slagging off Lana Del Rey and how people who bought her album were hopeless pawns of the record companies for a few months, it occurred to me that I should probably actually listen to some of her music. I found her album streaming online and gave it a quick listen. It wasn’t immediately offensive to my ears so I persevered. And after a few songs, a scary, troubling thought began to dawn on me: “Fuck. This is actually quite good.”
It turns out that her music is surprisingly, and rather improbably, pretty decent. Better than average, even. In fact, there’s even a couple of really really good singles on there. I was wrong, I admit it. I cannot lie. I like Lana Del Rey.
So I guess the lesson here is that it’s the music that really matters. Don’t believe the hype, don’t be told what to think, whether it’s by the labels, the advertising or by critics like me. You see, there was quite a backlash to Del Rey’s publicity online, most of it slagging off her instant success and apparent hipster credentials. But the thing is, none of that even matters. It doesn’t matter what she looks like and it doesn’t matter who is hyping her. Hell, it doesn’t even matter if she’s any good live if we’re strictly talking about how good her music is. Did these people even bother to actually listen to her songs? Because ultimately that’s the only thing that counts.
So don’t be a dick. If I can be be wrong about music (ME!), then we all can. And while Born To Die probably won’t make my end of year best albums list, a couple of its singles actually might: “Off To The Races” and “Video Games”
We can do this, guys. Stay strong.
* What the fuck is going on with her lips in this video? She looks like she’s been fellating a bee.