Next gay review: Lana Del Rey at the Mod Club (Video)
Indie YouTube it-girl is a Brooklyn-made Dusty Springfield
Lana Del Rey is a unique pop phenomenon. Her real name is Lizzie Grant and she's a textbook New York gal with a voice to die for. After years of struggling to break into the music business while living in a trailer in New Jersey, she was discovered and signed to a small label only to produce an album that never really saw the light of day beyond iTunes. This year, under a new catchy name, she recorded "Video Games," a sultry back-alley ballad about puppy love accompanied by a video that perfectly fused modern-day slacker references with old-fashioned, grainy Super 8 film clips. It blew up on YouTube (8 million hits and counting), and she began to release more songs and videos via her channel, quickly developing a rabid fan base.
Internet detractors went after her indie cred by posting comments saying that her plush lips were certainly surgically enhanced and that her name change and the disappearance of her old album from the 'net meant she was a manufactured artist trying to cover up her past. Since posting her first video in August, she's done the TV rounds in the UK, where she's being touted as the next big thing, and she's been signed to Interscope Records, which will release her new album, Born 2 Die, in January.
So does she live up to the hype machine that surrounds her? Hell, yes. She's played only a handful of dates as Lana Del Rey, and the sparse live footage that has surfaced online shows a shy, timid, vulnerable performer, so everyone in attendance was unsure of what to expect from her Canadian debut. Sauntering onstage dressed in black heels, painted-on blue jeans and a gold lamé jacket, she tossed her blonde locks behind giant sparkly hoop earings, blew a kiss to the audience, flaunted her red acrylic nails and proceeded to seduce the entire room. Del Rey was no shrinking violet: she cracked jokes, swore like a sailor, gave the sound guy orders and generally looked like she was at home onstage. While she isn't the most flashy performer, her songs and the hypnotic and effortless quality of her voice was completely engaging. Nostalgic film clips projected on large white balloons that were tethered to the stage added some extra style.
If the new songs she played are any reflection of her new album, 2012 will be the year of Lana Del Rey. She sounded great and her pitch-perfect vocal delivery seemed effortless. She apologized for her short 45-minute set but promised to come back to the city soon before leaving the stage. After a few minutes of cheering she came back out and said, "Sorry to make you wait like that. I really hate encores, but listen -- I really haven't done this song live, but my sets are so fucking short. But I wanna make them longer, so I'm just gonna try it. If you judge me, I'll kill you." She then launched into a faster version of "Diet Mtn Dew" that worked the crowd up and left them wanting more. People can try to judge her all they want, but the music and the talent speaks for itself. It's rare to see someone as fantastic as Del Rey live in such a small space; next time she comes back it will surely be at a bigger venue. How big is yet to be determined, but I never thought Adele would sell out the ACC, so who knows.
Without You Born to Die Blue Jeans Radio Million Dollar Man Video Games You Can Be the Boss Off to the Races Encore: Diet Mtn Dew