“Poet first and everything else second” is the well-known motto of Variety’s 2021 Decade Award winner, Lana Del Rey. Hearing the words ‘alternative’ and ‘music’ next to each other doesn’t typically trigger a hazy vintage-Americana dream-world of Del Ray. So how did she manage to build herself such a pivotal part in the modern alternative music realm?
Pre-Del Rey days were the days of aspiring waitress-turned-musician living in a trailer park and staying true to her fundamental cores of creativity. It’s no secret that her goal has been to create a life that was beautiful, surrounded by beautiful people and beautiful things, whilst maintaining a glamorous old-Hollywood persona. After all, she constantly sheds light on the fact that Del Rey is in fact, a character.
Fluidly blending her mezzo-soprano blues voice with smooth rock guitar tones and 90s hip-hop beats; is a mix that became an unexpected but genius match made in heaven, gaining her initial success with viral YouTube sensations Video Games and Summertime Sadness at age 27. It was a sound that became so empowering, cool and sexy for the dreamers, that it became something a lot (and I mean a lot, search up Lana Cult) of people genuinely can now not live without.
The ‘Lizzy Grant’ alias days inspired by sounds of Hawaiian glam metal definitely don’t set your expectations high for the worldwide success she would attain, but Del Rey had the motivation for success and nothing less.
She flawlessly managed to bring to life lost feelings of nostalgia and melancholy, represented with soft-grunge and coquette features with a voice any age or gender can appreciate. For 2011, she was different, original, straightforward and sexy. Then began a generation of teenage girls and women across western civilisation that realised that they can still be independent and progressively fighting for equality – whilst unlocking their divine femininity and feeling sexy.
Her music videos often portray Del Rey’s desire for getting involved with men that were; older, in biker gangs, tatted, and rich. But regardless, maintained lyricism that can be interpreted through double meanings and visually digested as smoothly as soft-serve caramel ice cream. And this is what caused backlash for accusations of “feigning emotional sensitivity”, sparking outrage for listeners that believed she was taking a step back in a society that was trying to take two steps forward.
Which is kind of bullshit when you think of the whole concept of music as an art in the first place. I mean, she won the Artist of The Decade award, that counts for something right?
But standing true to her creative vision is what led to her middle-finger (and a controversial lengthy Instagram letter) being stuck out to the part of the world that didn’t understand, whilst defending her art and the past decade of her life.
With captivating visuals and melodies, Del Rey presents the opportunity for you and me to reminisce over things they’ve never experienced. Waves of emotions track-to-track can leave you ripping down your bedroom curtains or running around the town with a sonic-fuelled high. And what’s more, Del Rey’s character arc has matured with recent albums portraying real-life development of what it means to exist as a woman.
Some of the biggest female stars today have credited Del Rey for inspiring them, such as Billie Eilish, Halsey, Taylor Swift, Adele and many, many more. People credit her for inventing the whole alt-sad-girl genre (before Eilish) and for taking control of their own feelings, deciding what only they do with them.
Blue Banisters discusses themes of self-love and acceptance, settling down whilst still romanticising your life without being so wild. She’s a woman that experiences change, heartbreak and sexual desires and isn’t afraid to share that with the rest of the world.
Preparing fans for her latest album, Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd, she states for them to expect much more vulnerability than tracks that gained her prior success. The single consists of a dreamy piano ballad, of course with her instantaneously recognisable vocals, whilst artistically hinting at the end of an era that landed Del Rey’s name in everyone’s mouth.
Del Rey’s success has landed her a title as an icon as a female openly exploring and portraying her human emotion… So when’s it gonna be my turn?