With Lana Del Rey's album Born to Die debuting today, we've finally entered the backlash-to-the-backlash phase of the singer's Internet fame trajectory. This anti-Del Rey Backlash has been slowly building, with both Daniel Radcliffe and Whitney Cummings coming to the Internet star's defense last week. Now it's time for the critics, who seem to be pushing back on the prevailing narrative about the still barely known Del Rey and offering a more sympathetic take on her work and persona.
On Del Rey's Stage Presence
Then: "The artist was overwhelmed on her Saturday Night Live debut yesterday, shifting awkwardly from foot to foot during a rendition of 'Video Games,' randomly rubbing her hip, lacking any and all energy or emotion... Del Rey mumbled in to the microphone and rushed through her lyrics, as the faces of her backup band members even look horrified on her behalf," wrote The Hollywood Gossip's 'Hilton Hater.'
Now: "Del Rey is not likely to be good onstage, but this puts her in the company of about fifty per cent of recording artists," writes The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones.
On Del Rey's Persona
Then: "I'm still not sure what bugs me about Lana that doesn't bug me about pretty much anyone else, but there's nonetheless something about her that I just can't get behind. Maybe it's the music itself — 'deep' and 'artsy' — contrasting with how I perceive her, as a fabrication," wrote Jezebel's Jessica Coen.
Now: "Even the terrible parts of Born to Die are just so lovable, which bodes well for the actually great parts," writes Spin's Rob Harvilla.
On Del Rey's Adolescent Appeal
Then: "[A] 12 year old in their bedroom when they're pretending to sing and perform," tweeted Juliet Lewis.
Now: "But 'Born to Die' is a skillful blend of synthetic nostalgia and teen-age emotions, set pieces constructed for a character she has described as a 'gangster Nancy Sinatra' and 'Lolita lost in the hood.' Anyone committed to taking Del Rey down now would have to be deaf to the gorgeously odd confections that pop affords. There is little wisdom in “Born to Die,” but more than enough pleasure," writes The New Yorker's Friere-Jones.
On Del Ray's Debut
Then: "Brooklyn hippster [sic] Lana Del Rey had one of the worst outings in SNL history last night — booked on the strength of her TWO SONG web EP, the least-experienced musical guest in the show's history, for starters," griped Brian Williams in a private email to Gawker owner Nick Denton.
Now: "[H]er debut is somewhat impressive, at times lovely, at others lackluster," writes the Associated Press' Mesfin Fekadu.
On Lana Del Ray's Talent
Then: "Who.....is.....this wack-a-doodle chick performing on #SNL..? Whaaaa?," Eliza Dushku tweeted.
Now: "This is the thing, amazingly, that everyone’s been arguing about: a medium-good pop record with a slightly more imaginative, moody milieu than usual, and a bad late-night thriller’s view of the world. Portions of it are quite nice;" writes New York Magazine's Nitsuh Abebe.