How do you go from Internet sensation to starring on Saturday Night Live to pariah seemingly overnight? Just ask singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey. After building tons of buzz with her music and videos online, the sultry singer got what should have been a dream slot performing on SNL in January. But then the tide suddenly turned.
Her performance was shaky, and the critics pounced. She got lambasted all over for what NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams called one of the worst outings in SNL history. The Internet exploded. SNL star Kristin Wiig parodied her in a subsequent comedy skit.
Since then she’s become one of the most polarizing figures in pop music, generating an almost visceral outpouring of love and hate. As she prepares for her first visit to Seattle this weekend (she’ll appear Saturday at Easy Street Records in Lower Queen Anne, Seattle,) Del Rey says she’s always had to go her own way and fight off adversity, so she’s able to shake off the SNL kerfuffle.
“I’m used to doing things and having a very severe response,” Del Rey says. “My motto is the same just like what other people think of me is none of my business. I’m used to people saying whatever they want,” she says philosophically.
Del Rey says while she got blasted by celebrity bloggers like Perez Hilton, she also got plenty of support from family, friends and other artists who encouraged her to continue following her own path. And while she seems like an overnight sensation, she says it’s the culmination of years of hard work and a “do it yourself” approach that forced her to go the viral route.
“I just feel like I’ve had to try all these new ways of doing things, like I started making the videos because no one would make a video for me. It’s expensive and I started recording things myself because it’s hard to get in with a really famous producer,” she says.
All of the negative attention doesn’t seem to be slowing her meteoric rise. Her major-label debut, Born to Die, has become a worldwide sensation, spawning top 10 hits “Video Games” and “Born to Die.”
She’s been described as a “self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra,” with influences ranging from Frank Sinatra to Kurt Cobain, which she says also fuels people’s strong feeling towards her, good and bad.
So is she really as terrible or as good as all the buzz? Seattle Weekly music editor Chris Kornelis, my co-host on Seattle Sounds, says the critical Internet crowd just keeps getting nastier and hungrier to chew up and spit out whatever they can sink their teeth into. Del Rey was an easy target.
“I think she has a good voice, and I reacted well to the songs. We’ve all seen tons of terrible performances on live television. Who cares? It’s not a big deal. But a lot of people wanted to make it a big deal because she was doing this before she paid her dues or whatever,” Kornelis says.
Through it all, Del Rey says she’s committed to staying true to her own artistic vision.
“I only know how to do me, so that’s just what I’m going to do.”
You can hear more of our conversation with and about Lana Del Rey on Seattle Sounds Friday night at 9:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. on 97.3 KIRO FM.
Lana Del Rey will perform live at Easy Street Records in Lower Queen Anne Saturday at 2:00 p.m.