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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

'Ultraviolence' - a Fan's Perspective.

Despite the controversy surrounding +Lana Del Rey when she first exploded onto the pop scene in 2012, I have always been a fan. I'll even admit to buying her clothing range for H&M a couple years ago when she was at the height of her popularity! The pop star's image was edgy and non-conformist whereas her wealthily father was supposedly pumping millions into making her a success in the music industry. Having started her career as Lizzy Grant and failed to achieve much recognition, she adopted the alter ego 'Lana Del Rey' and a 'star was born'. She achieved huge amounts of publicity and media attention in those early days.The fashion label, Mulberry, paid homage to her 60s style by designing the 'Del Rey' handbag just one month after the launch of her album - Alexa Chung had spent years building her profile as a fashion icon before the 'Alexa' took off. Lana Del Rey was every once the 21st century artist; the success of her first single, 'Video Games, was largely down to YouTube views. I remember being interested in her glamourous yet mysterious name - like Grant herself, it inspires intrigue.
Even on her newly released album, 'Ultraviolence', it remains unclear whether Lana Del Rey is a character Grant adopts to explore female sexuality, violence against women and toxic relationships - drug and alcohol abuse underline almost every song. Is Grant confronting her own demons through the pseudonym of Lana Del Rey? Or is she using her stage presence as a platform to raise awareness for said issues? By writing about controversial matters, listeners are invited into a fictional world that appears to border on reality.
I enjoyed the album - I would even go as far as saying that it takes greater risks than 2012's 'Born to Die'. I got the sense that Del Rey is comfortable in her own sound and confident of her legions of fans. Perhaps this is just because of my own music taste, but I was drawn to the more upbeat songs - 'Brooklyn Baby', 'The Other Woman', and 'Florida Kilos' in particular. My only criticism is is that it's heavy listening. I was so excited when I got the email from Spotify telling me 'Ultraviolence' was available to stream. I played it all the way through. Like Del Rey's other material, it is hard-hitting and somewhat depressing stuff. Yet, having familiarised myself with how the album works as a whole - I was then able to pick it apart and purchase my favourite tracks.
Back in 2012, I was drawn to her music because of its originality - it doesn't conform to the commercial expectations of a female artist and I loved that about her. I find Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and even Lady Gaga in recent years to be deadbeat in their attempts of controversy and rigorous strive for uniqueness. They often remind me of spoilt children trying to get our attention. In this simile, Lana Del Rey would be the passive, quiet teenager in the background - rebellious and presented as a menace. I admire the fact that she so obviously doesn't care about the media's portrayals of her. By ruthlessly digging into her past, some depicted her as a rich girl that ran to Daddy for funds and fame. Others see her as an off-the-rails type - the kind of artist that you don't want your daughter listening to for fear of a 'bad influence'. What riles this media storm around Lana Del Rey is that no one can really pinpoint her character - she gives nothing away. It's impossible to tell if her music is autobiographical or pure fiction - I interpret it as a mixture of both which creates an interesting and though-provoking sound. But that's just it - that is my interpretation! No doubt with the release of her second album, which she claimed she'd wouldn't release, the media will rally around her once again. That 'I wish I was dead already' comment doesn't seem to be doing her any favours. When artists release an album, they give their listeners a sense of themselves. We can therefore only really know Lana Del Rey through her music - her, or Lizzy Grant's, personal life is irrelevant. The side of herself that is intertwined with her music is what I'm interested in. 'Ultraviolence' is like another piece in the puzzle that is Lana Del Rey.
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2 comments

  1. Great post. I love your blog :) xx

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    1. Thank you so much! I just knew I had to write something about 'Ultraviolence' as soon as I heard it xx

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