What a short, strange road it's been for Lana Del Rey: The puffy-mouthed pop throwback was an internet lightning rod for months before her big, Saturday Night Live coming-out party. That, as even your mother now knows, didn't go too well. Then her debut album was released on the crest of a tidal marketing wave. Reaction to "Born to Die" was wildly varying: It was awarded five stars by The Independent, who touted it as "a delicious hybrid of Portishead and Nancy Sinatra," while Rolling Stone dismissed it as being "dull, dreary and pop-starved." But what better way to launch a new "Hollywood sadcore" career, as Del Rey herself categorizes her music, than with an old-fashioned comeback? And indeed, there have been notable signs of improvement. The much-maligned singer returned to the national stage on Thursday's Late Show with David Letterman, where she launched into a far more assured rendition of her signature single, "Video Games," than the droning, catatonic mess she delivered in Studio 8H. Like the Nancy Sinatra catalog -- or anything by Serge Gainsbourg, for that matter -- it's a song that hinges as much on delivering a convincing performance as it does on hitting the notes. (Though that never hurts.)
So is Del Rey finally ready for her close-up?
For comparison's sake, here is her infamous SNL rendition of the song: