Friday, September 9, 2011

The Gangster Nancy Sinatra

Move over aspiring indie pin-ups, the bizarre and trendy underground has just made a whole lot of spotlight room for Lana Del Rey after the release of her second single. Also known as the pouty and pretty 24-year old Lizzy Grant, a New York state-native with more personal style than Teen Vogue could ever coach, Del Rey is moving towards international acclaim at the speed of light.

Some fads in pop culture are easy to ignore, but as someone who tries to keep her ear close to the music scene's cigarette, tight pant and empty cup-covered ground, I'm finding it difficult to ignore the buzz garnered by Del Rey. Already an artist heavily spotlighted in the blogosphere and underground music scene, this Old Hollywood lookalike is both classically sensual and new age experimental under her Lana Del Rey moniker. Her mysterious cat eyes, exaggerated lips and wavy speakeasy hair could easily land the young thing on the pages of a magazine, but instead - through self-directed videos, sold out preliminary shows and vintage (yet innovative) sounds - she is the front runner in the footrace towards the limelight. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to yesteryear crooner Nancy Sinatra (she's self-coined her reputation as the "gangster Nancy Sinatra") both in her sassy sound and dangerously pretty appearance, Del Rey mixes her old-genre glamour with samples of Lykke Li's modern and dark indie-pop, as well as Cat Power's raspy honesty.

Her first single, "Video Games", is haunting and ghostly in its end-of-movie-sounding composition. Heartwrenching yet almost mocking in its powerfully beautiful arrangement, the song is obviously dedicated to the bored and both underly/overly stimulated young generation we live amongst. Referring to day-drinking, video game savvy couch-sitters, Del Rey juxtaposes that underachieving imagery by asking her subjects, "Heaven is a place on earth where you tell me all the things you wanna do - I heard that you like the bad girls, honey, is that true?" Del Rey most likely smokes her targets bang-on with this slowed-down jam, because they encompass everything the song and its fluttering harp strings do - blatant sexuality mixed with a youthful allegiance to the life of leisure.

Her latest release, the video for "Blue Jeans", is another flashy pop culture montage featuring shots of the coy poster girl cooing big-lippedly in the background. The song, a sexy ballad with a hint of urgency and desperation, resembles a millennium female version of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" in its tortured and melodic chorus. A little more beat-driven than her first tune, this piece has the ingredients to splash further and wider on the indie airwaves, therefore securing Del Rey as the most entrepreneurial and forward-moving new girl on the block with two hits that she seemingly stirred together at her kitchen sink.

Her DIY videos, usually featuring her own go-go-styled self alongside grainy flashes of dated film clips or news footage, feel like they should be rolled into action by hand at the local cinema. Instead, they're more likely to be buzzing towards the MTV airwaves. (If MTV decides to intermittently play those "video things" again anytime soon). And I'm fine with seeing her there; I'm fine with watching a realistically talented female grow from such obscure and organic beginnings to revolutionary. One thing is for sure, unlike the void subjects of her beautifully hollow hit, nothing about Del Rey, or Lizzy Grant, is idle. She, very clearly, isn't waiting for anything.

Video Games - Lana Del Rey

Blue Jeans - Lana Del Rey

Diet Mountain Dew - Lana Del Rey

Double A-Side single Blue Jeans/Video Games available  October 16th.

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