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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BOB LEFSETZ IS STARTING TO LIKE LANA DEL REY: here's what you need to know


Ha! Bob Lefsetz, full-time hater of Lana del Rey, is starting to like her!

I hate everything about Lana Del Rey except the music.

Ha! Haters gonna hate, Bob!

She changed her name, she inflated her lips, she had a disastrous SNL performance, but the grooves have sustained Lana Del Rey's career.

Everybody changes their name. Bob Dylan changed his name: do you hate him too, hater?

As for her SNL performance, I never watched it. But I've seen a lot of her live performances on Youtube, and yes: her live singing often stinks, she doesn't really put on a good show, and even at the best of times she can't reach the level of her studio recordings.

She was stunning singing "Video Games" on Letterman, that's about the best I've ever seen her live. And she did do a pretty good "Ride" on French TV. So maybe her problem is that she can't sing with monitors instead of headphones. Vocal monitors universally suck, Bob.

Or maybe part of it is that her studio singing has so many of those little inflections and curlicues that carry the song, and she just hasn't got the attention necessary to pull it off live. Or maybe again it's the monitors: you just can't sing subtlety with a loud band behind you on a live stage. Especially not with a horde of fans screaming at you.

Margo Timmins and Hope Sandoval could sing subtlety, but their bands were punishingly quiet and their fans behaved, so that made it easier. Lana's trying to do Margo and Hope with a wall of sound behind her. That'll cripple her right there.

Seriously, pay good attention to her voice on the studio recordings and you'll see all sorts of tiny little gems. When she sings "Young and Beautiful", the emotion behind the line "I know you will/I know you will/I know that you will" carries across the character's desperate self-delusion in a way that you won't find from your fave modern pop singers.

Bob, when you asserted that Doctor Tongue sang a better "Summertime Sadness" than Lana, you proved you don't have a fucking clue about singing. Where was the tense expectation in "I'm feeling electric tonight", the psychosis of "got my bad baby by my heavenly side", and the ominous finalism of "I know if I go I'll die happy tonight"?

Lana singes the emotions of characters, Bob. When's the last time a pop star did that?

But yes, she has sucked live. I unfortunately didn't get to see her on her tour this spring, so I dunno if she's improved recently. I didn't get to see her on tour because the show was sold out in just a couple days. You give her her props for that yet, Bob?

"Cruel World" didn't sound like everything else, not even close.

It's not Top Forty radio ready.

And it's not alternative.

It's got the polished, slick production the major labels can afford featuring players who know their craft. The indies pale in comparison.

And the lyrics.

I haven't listened to any of the new record yet. Frankly I was so blown away by the few songs I listened to on the first one that I haven't wanted to go near the new stuff yet for fear it might suck. Because most of the artists I've loved have put out shitty second albums, and I don't want anything to spoil my feelings for Lana.

But yeah, on some of the first album's songs the production was stunning, "Born to Die" is unbelievable, and so is "Ride"; you should be able to hear all the clever references in these songs if you've followed pop music since the 1950s.

Lana's producer uses sound collage. We haven't been seeing this in music in a long time and it's nice to see it coming back.

And her live band is definitely brilliant, especially her pianist (dunno if he's on this record).

It's like a modern day Doors record. It's dark. She's the female Jim Morrison. In tone, if he only sung when he was stoned and if she wrote slightly better lyrics.

Um... sorry to tell you this Bob, but Morrison did sing when he was stoned. Like, all the time. Like, during the vocal recording for "LA Woman" he collapsed in a puddle of his own urine.

Or she's Lou Reed with a better voice.

Oh god please! Don't compare Lana del Rey to that talentless arrogant douche. He was a one-hit wonder after the original VU, and still he thought his shit didn't stink. Guy rode on the coat-tails of drugs and John Cale for a decade, and only the drugged-out loser attitude of washed-up 70s punk scenesters kept him from having to take a job as a night watchman.

But what's striking is Lana's the anti-Katy, the anti-Rihanna, she's not employing post-feminist girl power, all about physique and outfits, it's almost like she's on drugs in a dark room and is telling you her story and doesn't even care if you're listening, which makes you want to!

And the track is nearly endless. 6:39. And although hypnotic, repetitive.

But so intriguing. It's what music used to be, not playing to the station or the masses but just you, the individual, who wants to participate but is flummoxed by society. That's what records used to be, comforters, even if they were metal, they were blankets to wrap ourselves up in to stay warm, to survive.

Sounds like you're falling in love, Bob.

And I want each and every one of you to listen to this song.

A good thirty percent will hate it outright. You know, the guys with the tattoos who believe rock must be loud and edgy and...

And those who are afraid... Who flinch at profanity, who want no controversy.

But the rest of you will be struck just like me. THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE ARE LISTENING TO? THIS IS A BIG ALBUM? HOW FANTASTIC IS THAT!!

Oh god! All caps? You are falling in love!

Sure, the live performance doesn't measure up to the image. But you have to admit these three things about Lana del Rey:

1. She has image out the wazoo.
2. Her recorded vocals are jam-packed with fantastic little twinges that carry emotion beyond the words she sings.
3. That production is so damn dense and gushy.

What more do you want from an artist, anyway? She's doing 3 things better than everyone else. Everyone else.

But it's good to see you warming up to Lana, Bob. I had lost all respect for you when I heard that you didn't like her. Maybe now I can like you again.

Now if only I can get you to admit that Katy Perry and Ke$ha are top 40's best singers for this entire generation.


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