SCENE: Sunday afternoon. An apartment living room, Brooklyn, reminiscent of Jodie Foster’s apartment in Carnage in the intended effect of its decor if not in its plushness. Television at center of room.
ROOMMATE: So, did you see Lana Del Rey Saturday night?
ROOMMATE: I read about it all over the Internet. Why are people being so mean to her?
YOU: Juliette Lewis knows about bad performances, and most of those articles are just quoting celebrity Twitter accounts. Maybe you should see it for yourself.
ROOMMATE: Let me pull it up on the DVR. How’d she get booked on Saturday Night Live anyhow? I first heard of Lana Del Rey, like, last week?
YOU: This season, Saturday Night Live has been booking a mix of super-successful artists and musical acts no one has heard of, I guess because you can kind of hear Taylor Swift or Rihanna anytime you want. With such a fragmented audience, at least the show can count on Lana Del Rey superfans definitely tuning in live. I really doubt Jessie J or Karmin or even Robyn could have made it to air ten years ago. Also, Lana Del Rey has had people talking about her for months–and given that you’re about to watch her performance, I think NBC succeeded brilliantly.
ROOMMATE: [fast-forwards to the performance of “Video Games”] Wow. She’s… what is she wearing? What’s wrong with her face?
YOU: Like, Lana Del Rey’s image and presentation have been debated to death–the very obvious amount of injectables up in there have made really weary arguments about “authenticity” much more pointed than in discussions about, say, Katy Perry. (She also goes by an alias, a fact that’s true of Ms. Perry and Lady Gaga and Rihanna and Ke$ha, to name a few, but “Lana Del Rey” seems almost genius in its ability to push people’s “that-sounds-fake-and-weird” buttons; it’s the aural equivalent of her super-long Miss Havisham dress she’s wearing on SNL.) That’s to say nothing of the fact that Lana has been sold as an “indie” artist, despite evincing many of the traits that people more often associate with easily-dismissed pop acts.
ROOMMATE: [transfixed] What’s… why is she flipping her hair? What is this song about, anyhow? I’ve been wondering that.
YOU: It’s about how video games are a metaphor for sex, I… think? It’s kind of purposefully, hypnotically vague.
ROOMMATE: But I’ve liked this song before!
YOU: I think there’s an argument to be made that she screwed up this song on purpose? Or at least that her croaky, creaky voice and utterly uncomfortable twirling are purposeful? After all, people remember those 2010 Ke$ha SNL performances, with the dancing aliens and audience-propositioning, way better than much more competent things.
ROOMMATE: So her career’s basically over, right?
YOU: Well, her album isn’t even out yet–and it’s not like she just tricked Lorne Michaels into getting on air, as she’s also on the cover of Billboard right now. I think I’ll be having this conversation with my parents in eight months’ time.
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