Monday, October 24th, 2011

Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans

It’s Hypey Female Vocalist Monday!


Iain Mew: The exact same secondhand glamour and impossible swooning declarations of love as “Video Games,” swathed in an even more sumptuous arrangement — the bass is particularly gorgeous. Why, then, is “Blue Jeans” not amazing in quite the same way? Just inevitable diminishing returns? Maybe, but also the key difference that this time her love has already gone. Without the same horribly enthralling sense that things are falling apart around her and she doesn’t or won’t realise, it can’t be nearly as heartbreaking.

Edward Okulicz: Her smoky pipes imbued “Video Games” with just the right sense of heartbroken numbness, but the trick either doesn’t work twice or isn’t suited to this much less arresting composition. “Blue Jeans” is so much posing, so little song.

Anthony Easton: It is her voice. I understand why everyone who hates this, hates this, but it is her phrasing: not quite breathy, not quite tired, but a bit of both, with a little of Veronica Lake. And it’s how the phrases work together — how it contracts where she talks about James Dean, and how it expands when she talks about memory. I should be docking points for a variety of things: for the Lord’s Prayer, for the badly phrased “ooh ooh”s, for the Skid Row reference, for how she says gangster with the exaggerated “a” and for the poverty tourism, but none of it matters. It’s tight and noir and sexy as hell, and, like Drive, it still reminds me of L.A. at its best.

Katherine St Asaph: Just go listen to Jill Tracy or Rebecca Collins or, God forbid, Martina Topley-Bird. This is the easiest swap-out ever. Lana is not special.

Hazel Robinson: This is like a bad karaoke version of “Seasons Song” by Lily Frost, which has been all over U.S. telly and which I’ve loved for years. That song is itself derivative, but this is like when the office intern photocopies some photocopies and informs you this is the high-quality print they ordered.

Brad Shoup: What a wicked game she plays, giving us a track that throbs with tension yet serves as foundation for a garbled Westside story. And that’s leaving out the tonal clash of the Ferlinghetti excerpt and all those mixed-in mutterings. Allying herself with hip-hop is good for the slant rhyme and fine for the Ghetto Nancy thing, but really, she’s so much more a Lee, from the spaghetti guitar to the fatalism.

Doug Robertson: It’s very Tori Amos, isn’t it? Given that if you want Tori Amos-esque music, the go-to person for that tends to be Tori Amos, there really needs to be something extra going on. Unfortunately she seems too content to be a cornflake girl, rather than aspiring to be a bit more crunchy nut.

Alfred Soto: Fumbling for referents, I settled on late nineties Tori Amos, for better or worse: fusty and histrionic in the wrong way. Amos was generally weirder.

Sally O’Rourke: I could not hate “Video Games” because “Video Games” was too boring to hate. I found Lana Del Rey interesting only as a writing prompt for the blogosphere, not for her rather unexceptional take on Hipstamatic-pop. I was not prepared for “Blue Jeans.” The lyrics are terrible. Lana’s oversinging grates in its deliberate messiness, like lipstick smeared with a Q-tip. The Lawrence Ferlinghetti sample adds nothing to the song, apart from a hint of counterculture posturing that’s nevertheless been neutered by time and canonized by syllabi. But “Blue Jeans” is also the first song in god knows how long to hook me on melody alone, its minor-key winding, striking blue notes and forgotten chords, spinning a structure as gauzy and sticky as a spider’s web, trapping me into loving it though I know it’s not worthy. Intellectually, I recognize the track’s demerits and am subtracting points accordingly. But if I judged strictly by the aching in my heart and the goosebumps on my arm, it’d deserve full marks.

8 Responses to “Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans”

  1. I hear Gwen more than I do Tori.

  2. I’m pretty sure I overheard my sister watching an episode of The Only Way Is Essex in another room and “Video Games” was used as background music for a scene. She’s no longer the domain of blogbaiters now!

    “Video Games” eats this for any meal you care to name, obv.

  3. She’s no longer the domain of blogbaiters now!

    Lana Del Rey that is, not my sister.

  4. Couldn’t get it together to blurb this one, but I agree with Edward. And what’s wrong with Martina Topley-Bird?

  5. Absolutely nothing is wrong with Martina Topley-Bird, and almost everything is right.

    (Do check out Rebecca Collins, too — I just saw she put up new demos, and they’re fantastic.)

  6. If it matters, the single version drops the intro sample and whatever mumbling I was hearing; it’s a bit more cleaned-up, but there are places where she pushes the red. I love the nimble, rhythmic delivery and how the song is defiantly anti-revolutionary, and I’m really surprised that these Del Rey singles didn’t set off my usual triggers. Maybe it’s the arrangements; maybe I’m finding it fun to be exasperated rather than annoyed.

  7. Can’t believe I never picked up on the Tori Amos comparisons because I have the exact same problems with her as I do with Lana Del Rey – lyrics, vocals, tacked-on ponderousness – but she can occasionally write a song that’s pretty enough to almost make up for me hating the rest of the package.

  8. Tori Amos is a million times more intelligent and her music a billion times more crafted than anything Lana Del Rey has or will ever do. Sure, there’s an outside chance I’ll be embarrassed by these words in a decade, but Little Earthquakes was mind-bogglingly fully-formed as a debut. Unless this period is Lana’s Y Kant Tori Read phase and she completely disowns it all, there’s just no comparison nor will there ever be one.