10 of Hannah Sternberg's Greatest Hits
3. January 21, 2013: I Hear You Like Bad Girls Too
A good girl takes Lana Del Rey's relationship advice.
You might have heard of Lana Del Rey because she's the internet's favorite singer to hate. Or you might have heard of her because you actually enjoyed one of her songs on the radio. Sound a bit contradictory?
Lana Del Rey sings retro-inspired, whispery pop songs about slightly trashy women with a serious case of heartache. You can picture her heroines telling the story of the man who walked out on them over a cigarette and coffee in a local diner, mascara running down their cheeks. She's a bad girl from a James Dean movie with a heart of gold. Her music is catchy, melancholy, haunting; it has a quality that reaches out and taps you on the shoulder if you've ever been dumped, and whispers to you about feelings that other songs missed. When she croons "I will love you until the end of time," or "Heaven is a place on earth with you," in a minor key, she reminds you of that half-life of love that keeps burning on even after the relationship ends. And she's not fighting it -- she's just feeling it. Even in "Video Games," a song in which she's still with her boyfriend, when she sings "better than I ever even knew" the listener gets the impression that things are not perfect.
Lana Del Rey is good music for suspense. She's good music for sun-draped summer days. She's good music for a long drive to see someone for the first time in what feels like a long time.
She's a good bad girl for good girls to listen to.
The other distinctive feature of Lana Del Rey is she can't do a single thing without every hipster and tabloid blog on the internet jeering her for it. It's become such a distinctive facet of her career that you can't discuss her or her music at all without running into internet-hate problem.
What gives? First of all, hating her was made trendy by sites that make lots and lots of money by writing cruel things about people. She's not perfect, but her crimes are no worse than those of other pop stars who have gotten off with far less derision: take a stage name, or flubbing a performance.
The fact that she's unafraid to sing about women's vulnerability without irony or apology is another less discussed reason why music commentators and tabloid writers hate her so vitriolically. She doesn't follow their script of how empowered gender-neutral young folks these days should talk about love, so she must be mocked into silence.
What has she done to piss them off so much?