It's All For You: A Few Thoughts On The Lana Del Rey Saturday Night Live Debacle
You might have heard that the much-discussed singer Lana Del Rey had her U.S. television debut this past weekend on Saturday Night Live, and that the hive mind of public opinion declared that her performances, of "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans" did not go well. The satirical indie-chronicle Hipster Runoff's declaration that she "effing TANK[ED]" was echoed by even the most opinion-averse media outlets, with even the publicist-friendly Us wondering if she "bomb[ed]."
While the two performances were low-energy and marked by Del Rey attempting to rein in her voice and seeming not entirely sure of what to do with her corporeal self more than anything else, they didn't seem that much different than her first TV appearance when she performed "Games" on the UK television show Later With Jools Holland back in October. Still, even some who were on the Lana Del Train in the autumn seemed to be taken aback by Saturday's display, resulting in a Great Big Pile On Lana that seemed more intense and widespread than the ones that have occurred any other time her name was mentioned since "Video Games"'s YouTube debut. What happened?
Lana Del Rey, "Video Games" (live on Saturday Night Live)
The narrative of "deservedness" and "paying dues" still persists in corners outside the music blogosphere, even (especially?) when it comes to bookings on shows like Saturday Night Live. Look no further than the missive sent by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to Gawker Media overlord (and former boss of mine) Nick Denton, which blasted Lana's road to Studio 8H thusly: "Brooklyn hippster [sic] Lana Del Rey had one of the worst outings in SNL history last nightbooked on the strength of her TWO SONG web EP, the least-experienced musical guest in the show's history, for starters."
Never mind that this rant ignores her lengthy history in the music-industry salt mines (operating under her given name), or that it uses the word "hipster" in the worst catch-all way (i.e. "Brooklyn-dwelling person who makes me so mad, ooh"). Williams, despite being known for being the only network-news anchor with a music blog, was legitimately annoyed about Del Rey's Interscope-assisted shortcut to stardom. (To be honest, on first read I actually thought Williams's note was some weird sort of viral promotion for the clips' Hulu presence (trollgaze!); it apparently wasn't.) And he wasn't the only one; many of the online reactions I saw were similarly indignant, even though she's clearly being marketed as a pop singer, and not someone with many rock pretensions at all. Why didn't they get this irritated about Jessie J, who had a similar pre-stardom SNL appearance last year? Well...