Friday, 23 September 2011

F*ck Authenticity (In Defence of Lana Del Rey)

Here’s a question and scenario for you.

Imagine the scene. You’ve met the seemingly perfect girl (or boy). In this case we’ll refer to her as a girl, but if your choice is a boy please use your imagination. She’s gorgeous, amazingly intelligent, funny, and great to be with plus all your friends love her. After a few dates things are going incredibly well and the inevitable moment comes where she asks you back to her place. It’s not long before you’re in her romantically candle lit bedroom and clothes are being removed.

As she stands naked in front of you, smiling with sensual come to bed eyes, you realise something that you hadn’t noticed until this point; she has fake breasts. Large, standing to attention fake breasts. What do you do? Do you continue onwards in your first night of passion, or do you stop, point at them and say “You never told me you had fake breasts. I feel cheated. You have not been honest with me. I cannot continue this relationship and bid you goodbye,” collecting your jacket as you leave her.

The reason why we ask this question? Because of Lana Del Rey.

Now before we explain ourselves fully, here’s some context and background. In May of this year we first posted about Lana Del Rey. In the post we featured a song called Video Games. At the time we hadn't been contacted by the artists PR company and had ‘discovered’ her through our own organic means - there wasn't much of a 'buzz' about her. We found an authorised Soundcloud embed of Video Games and hosted this together with a You Tube video of the equally good Kinda Outta Luck. At this stage we still had no idea if Del Rey was a ‘signed’ artist or not, but frankly didn’t care. We liked the art - the music was good and we thought the visual presentation of it was very stylish. The Soundcloud embed was a PR company owned one, but not the one that you can now find on Soundcloud and streams below – it appears that shortly after we posted the piece a new PR company took over the ropes and the original Soundcloud player was removed.

At first the post received very little attention, but slowly but surely momentum began to build behind the track Video Games. Fearne Cotton on BBC Radio 1 began playing it, Gorilla vs Bear and Pitchfork got behind it in the U.S and suddenly the track posted originally on Breaking More Waves started shooting up the Hype Machine charts (a number of times) delivering a sledgehammer of traffic towards the blog as the blogosphere went into over drive.

Then the backlash started. Hipster Run-Off ran a fairly obnoxious but predictable piece about her past, and other blogs ranted that she was manufactured, had undergone plastic surgery and had a rich daddy. Plus there was a now deleted first album (which until recently you could listen to on Soundcloud) that Lana Del Rey had issued some time ago. We mentioned this backlash here. Other blogs criticised the likes of Gorilla vs Bear for not being ‘transparent’ and not admitting that there was a major label behind Del Rey.

Now there’s the backlash against the backlash and we’re joining in a little because we agree with the point that argues that hipster blogs need to get over their indie snobbery ideals of ‘authenticy’. It’s a word we are seeing crop up more and more on certain blogs, who argue that certain artists are ‘manufactured’, not ‘authentic’ and therefore ‘lack credibility’. A bit like the girl with the fake breasts.

So what would you do with the girl? For us the answer is simple, we’ve obviously grown to like this girl enough that we want to get into bed with her, so really fake breasts aren’t an issue. It's gone beyond that and we're not going to intellectualize it - sometimes you just have to enjoy yourself. So it is with Lana Del Rey. Irrespective of if she’s manufactured or authentic we love her music, so unless we discover something fundamental about her (everyone has their limits) like she’s a child murderer, our views are not going to change.

Those who claim that they cannot like an artist because they are manufactured miss a point (and miss a life). Much of the greatest pop music in the world is manufactured. As soon as an artist enters a studio and begins the recording experience a manufacturing process of sorts takes place – it’s just how we perceive that manufacturing process after the event. Of course much of the ‘manufacture’ of the artists is undertaken after recording in order to inspire excitement in a potential audience – some artists far more than others –but it’s all part of the fun of pop music. Personally we want our stars to look great – we really don’t want a bunch of drab lookalikes with not an ounce of creative flair outside their skinny jeans, shaggy hair and leather jackets like this lot. Elvis? Manufactured. Britney? Manufactured. The Sex Pistols? Manufactured. Thank god for manufactured pop stars. As long as the music is not bland, but exciting and inspiring then there has always been a place in our hearts for manufactured pop stars.

Those who claim that blogs should be transparent about artists backing, PR or label involvement also miss the point. The whole point of blogs is that they can be their author’s voice – free and independent. No rules. No ‘shoulds’ or ‘shouldn’ts’. Each blog author can do what they want, and write what they want. In this day and age where the term ‘indie’ has been chipped away so much that it means nothing – where ‘indie’ bands are on majors and pure pop acts are doing everything themselves to get noticed - the boundaries have been erased. To some bloggers what label an artist is on (if at all) is irrelevant. They don’t owe their readership an explanation of all that stuff. Imagine how boring it would be if every time we posted a blog it explained who the artists manager was, what PR company they were working with, how many times the band had offered to suck our cock before we had to post about them. Blah, blah, blah, we can feel ourselves falling asleep with the boredom already. (Note: Any bands offering to suck our cock please note that even this won't get you any preference - though the moment might be fun.)

All that matters to us is if the music is amazing. We don’t give a flying fig about the business side of things – we’re a MUSIC blog not a business / industry blog. Our sole reason for existence is to write and support the music we love - what we think is good music.

So how do we define good music? Is something ‘manufactured’ automatically not good music? Is the girl with the fake breasts automatically not gorgeous anymore because ‘she’s not real’?

Good music, in our books, is music that moves us in a positive way. That positive way can mean making us feel sad too, because sometimes we need to feel sad – it can be a useful thing. We don’t however think that if music elicits an emotion of angry that’s a good thing, unless that anger is used in a good way. For example whenever we hear the low-grade Brit Pop of Viva Brother it makes us feel angry in an unhealthy want-to-go-out-and-kill-them way. This is not a healthy emotion and is therefore good music. Yet Can’t Get You Out Of My Head by Kylie Minogue, a highly manufactured pop record makes us want to sing, dance and tell the whole world that we love it. This is good music. Some of the best records, the best artists of all time are ‘manufactured’.

We like to think of ourselves as a total music fan blog. It’s why on this blog you’ll find pop music and scuzzy dirty wall of noise bands, sure we have personal preferences (female fronted, electronic pop, folk, experimental and indie -whatever that means,) but we’d never turn our nose up at something because it doesn’t seem authentic, credible or appears manufactured. It’s why we posted about Lana Del Rey and everything that has happened since with the Lanagate internet overload / argument hasn’t changed our view at all.

It’s why right now, we’d be bouncing around in the sack with the girl with the big boobs and be having a far better time of it than up their arse indie snobs who over analyse and intellectualise every ounce of detail about an artist and end up on their own wanking over their laptop.

Of course there’s still every chance that in six months we’ll find out that the fake boob girl can really only talk about a small handful of subjects, has a very different view on almost everything to ourselves, lacks imagination and has been two timing us with a dirty skanky Pigeon Detectives fan, just as Lana Del Rey may turn out to only have a handful of good songs and a lot of filler. She may also not be able to play live (watching a gig is a bit like your first sexual experience with someone – there may have been a lot of promise but when you get down to the nitty-gritty it just wasn’t there) and we may end up feeling let down or that we’ve grown apart. We’ll let you know on twitter after her London gig on Nov 16. But for now, we’re enjoying the ride. That - like relationships - is the beauty of pop music.

Here’s that song again. One of the best of the year. Our second time streaming it, third if you include the video. Simple.

Lana Del Rey - Video Games


Scryst said...

Next up - the backlash against the backlash against the backlash before she actually puts out some singles and an album and everyone forgets about all of this and just talks about the music.

Anonymous said...

MG said...

Yo dude. Nice blog here but the reason I don't high five those manufactured acts is 'cos it puts talented dudes out of a chance of getting their shit on the radio and out there if they can't record because some untalented dude who looks pretty is being given studio time to make a pop record. Not fair.

fulltext said...

Quite simple. I would not mention the fake breasts until the next morning

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Thanks guys for the comments. The We Listen For You podcast comment is interesting - worth a listen - then form your own opinion - although I believe from my research that some of his statements are assumptions rather than 100% researched facts. For example he slates Pitchfork for reporting Video Games as her first single, then talks about the previous deleted LP - so did that LP have a single off it ? If it didn't then Video Games is her first single and Pitchfork was correct.

MG - not every 'manufactured' artist is untalented - and even when they are personally I don't care when listening to the recordings - all I care about is does the recording make me feel something / is it good. This I guess is one of the fundamental differences between pop music (which is based around studio production) and say rock music which is based around live performance as much as studio work. Also don't forget that with manufactured recordings there is lots of talent in the way of producers, engineers etc to help create the recording.

Rain said...

I'm now picturing a boy with fake breasts, thank you.

I agree on the topic though.

Chris said...

Of course the irony of the backlash, the backlash against the backlash, and whatever further comment is to come is that the PR company are probably sitting there rubbing their hands with glee as the blogosphere helps expose Lana Del Ray even more.

PS: I'm not a big fan of fake breasts generally, but, hey, if they move something in me surely it's worth a punt.

Kurt said...

I'm glad I listened to the song first and read the rest later. Where, as you mention, is it written that all manufactured artists/songs are by definition bad? The backlash sites were awful: to me they felt as if written by a drunk woman who was angry her ex ran off with another girl. Even the scoop didn't impress me: I didn't think her older work was as good as the new track(s). So if "manifactured" means "made into sth better", then what's the problem?

Also, most women choose for fake breasts because they're insecure (or work in porn). In the former case it's best not to leave her because of that as it wouldn't do much good to her confidence. In the latter, it's best not to mention it either because it wouldn't to do much good to yours.

Anonymous said...

Blog critics have it in for Del Rey because they perceive that she's manipulating her physical attributes such as pouting lips, striking sadcore looks,sultry pouty videos etc to gain success. All of these critics are male and the comments seem to be quite misogynistic. I hope that the backlash ends up seeing these critics being exposed for what they are. Not authentic music lovers at all but self-important idiots who have forgotten what music blogs should be about the music.

There's a massive irony at play here. The arguments of lack of autheticity make the people writing / talking about seem as if they have a lack of authenticity as many of their comments are based on half facts.

Anonymous said...

Agree totally, music is supposed to be enjoyable. It dosen't matter what her background is, just enjoy the music. Video Games is one of the best songs on the go just now.

The problem is that most blogs and the such are sucking the enjoyment out music.

Opinions are like areholes, everyones got one and the're always full of shit.

ruinitall said...

So I read this post and listened to the song and watched the video and now I'm convinced that she has silicone in her lips.