Oh hey, Lana Del Rey, what a tumultuous year we've had! Indeed we, the pop music-loving public, have had one hell of a torrid love affair with you, the self-self-proclaimed "Gangster Nancy Sinatra" during the past 12 months. It has been a time fraught with some pretty glorious ups (the brilliant "Video Games," casting A$AP Rocky as JFK in her video for "National Anthem") and some rather stupefying downs (the infamous SNL debacle, Ms. Del Rey's questionable aesthetic choices regarding her lips). So with the the re-release of her debut album, Born to Die: The Paradise Edition due on Nov. 12, I thought it was high time we took a quick look back at our year of loving and hating the Artist Formerly Known as Lizzie Grant.
As with most love affairs, it all started with the the complete abandonment of our better judgement. Initially, Lana Del Rey slyly caught our eye from across the digital bar with her first single "Video Games" and its accompanying video. Directed by Ms. Del Rey herself, the somewhat nonsensical collage of clips may have been the ultimate in ultra-hipster, overindulgent malarky, but it presented Lana at her most alluring. What really stood out here were the haunting lyrics, melody and spare arrangement of the song which, aside from just being pretty damn beautiful, was also a highly welcome and striking change of pace from the oppressively over-produced dance music dominating the pop scene. It even seemed like it might just be an intellectual take down of our tech-ridden, depersonalized modern society, with Lana's wispy monotone vocals consciously portraying an emotionless world of complete detachment. "Fuck you, Lady Gaga and your lobster hat. We're into this classy, thought-provoking, vintage ballad shit now!" we shouted, smugly.
Of course, as humans are wont to do with both our pop idols and our new love affairs, this initial attraction lead quickly to high expectations for the future that then proceeded to get way the hell out of control. All of us (well, mostly us gay guys) were all like, "OMG LANA IS EVERYTHING, I AM IN LOVE." We listened to and watched the video for "Video Games" on repeat for days, purposefully ignoring the fact that, like any given one-night stand you meet wasted at a dive bar at 4 a.m., we barely knew the chick we were crawling into bed with. And as with most casual sex, things quickly proceeded to get super awkward.
Everything really started to come undone between Lana and ourselves when her former career under her real name, Lizzie Grant, came to light. "Wait just a second here! You told me last night your name was Lana!" we shouted after her as she threw her clothes on, glossed-up her plumped lips and ran towards the door. It quickly dawned on us that sex wasn't nearly as hot with someone named Lizzie. In this stage, we still listened to "Video Games" and maybe even belted out her second single "Blue Jeans" while getting dressed to go out with our friends, but we were definitely starting to give Lana -- I mean Lizzie -- some serious, highly suspicious side-eye.
Then SNL happened. No need to rehash the horror (it's better to block out memories like these), but let's just say in four minutes, it completely usurped The Walking Dead as the most terrifying thing to air on television in recent history. It was like jaw on the floor, "Is this for real?" gauge-your-eyeballs-out-with-a-teaspoon bad. We were repelled and felt tons of guilt for telling all our friends that she may be "the one," as it was quickly becoming apparent that this lady may never have sung in public before. We hated ourselves for disregarding our common sense and believing this could be something real. We maybe even called up Lady Gaga crying and apologized for jumping ship. Mostly, we were just confused.
By the time Lana's album, Born to Die dropped this past January, even if we were secretly still dreaming about her from time to time on a lonely night, we had no choice but to pretend we didn't know Lana in public. While some thought we were too hard on Lana about SNL (we weren't), and that she still had redeeming qualities despite her status as a clearly unseasoned performer (she does), it was mostly clear to us that that higher plane she took us too that night we first heard "Video Games" was a one-time kinda deal. But little did we know that realizing this would eventually be the very thing that set us free.
You see, Lana's album release launched us into the new stage of our dalliance, one where we told all our friends that were completely over with Lana, but bought Born to Die the night it came out on iTunes and were still secretly still drunk texting the shit out of her on the low low. The truth is, once we dropped the Lana-lips-sized expectations set by "Video Games" and settled for the Lizzie-lips-sized ones established by everything that occurred after, we realized this girl's nookie was actually kinda great. While she may not have been the culture-defining figure which we initially pegged her as, she made some pretty damn catchy, epic, campy, dramatic ballads and goddamn it, we kinda needed that! We realized that LDR was just a guilty pleasure and there was no need for either of us to apologize to the other for simply indulging in our baser human instincts.
So there you have it! It's been an emotionally harrowing year of depravity for us and Lizzie Lana Del Grant. Recently, our girl told Australian Vogue, "I don't think I'll write another record. What would it say? Everything I wanted to say, I've said already." If this is true, this really was it: A mere fling with someone who, while perhaps not the most meaningful and substantive relationship we've ever had, still gave and continues to give us a nice rush of cheap thrills every time we sneak off and play her record. And I don't know about all of you, but I'm gonna choose to savor the goods aspects of our mistress, Lana and I'm psyched for the re-release of Born to Die, which contains eight all-new afternoon delights. Here's to another year of loving to hate and hating to love Lana Del Rey. May it be as sleazy and delightful as the last.