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ANA DEL REY. The name is reminiscent of old school Hollywood stars; glamorous ladies lounging around smoking cigarettes and combing through their curls, elegant arms outstretched, endless poise. This is pretty handy really, seeing as this is just the thing that Lizzy Grant was going for when she, after several attempts at cultivating a career in music with marginal success under her given name, upped and revamped herself as. A performance artist if ever there was one, and if the amount of YouTube hits first single Video Games (over 23 and a half million, and counting) is anything to go by then it’s really working for her. Or is it? Online, a war of words is waging, equal in intensity on both sides, and one which there seems to be no common ground at all. Lizzy Grant, or rather her nom de plume Lana Del Rey, is a walking, talking, pouting controversy. “A horrible person that’s a poor example for women everywhere,” rants one commenter, whose (probably unfounded) anger is contrasted with the short and sweet, yet no less striking statement “best song ever”
“Lana Del Rey came from a series of managers and lawyers in the past five years who wanted a name that they thought better fit the sound of the music.”
Fake It Til You Make It Or Made It Cos You Faked It?
the Video Games comment stream on YouTube. The anger that Del Ray conjurs up stems from the notion that she is a fake, a fabrication, manufactured right down to her perfectly distracting pout, which (not that it matters) is noticeably different to the mouth she sports in earlier promotional material for her 2010 shelved album. Del Rey is the daughter of multimillionaire Rob Grant, who made his fortune online investing in domains. He has backed Del Rey’s career, paying for a team of marketers to spend five years researching and creating a persona that would sell well in today’s industry. He paid for all the marketing, even going so far as to pay to have the album put on iTunes for a short while, before it was removed for reasons unknown. The marketing team came up with her stage name, and opted for her to remain a solo artist rather than a singer in a band. From Del Rey’s Wikipedia page: “I wanted to be a band but the label I was with and the team I had around me absolutely wanted me to be a solo artist. Lana Del Rey came from a series of managers and lawyers over the last 5 years who wanted a name that they thought better fit the sound of the music.” It seems that in this case, that although money can’t buy talent or fame, in a Veruca Salt style ‘Daddy will get that for you’ type way, it
A look at Lana Del Rey 24
can buy you enough hype to get a head start on your competitors. And in this case, that hype bought Del Rey an invitation to perform on Saturday Night Live (SNL), an American live sketch and comedy show. Her performance on SNL sparked a backlash against her, with people calling it “the worst SNL performance ever,” and her critics arguing that this poor performance clearly highlights her lack of talent, leaving a general consensus of indignation that this girl could be performing to an audience this large, whilst more talented artists fly under the radar. However, both Video Games and her new album Born To Die have received generally very good reviews, omitting her one dodgy performance on SNL it would be fair to say that she at least has potential. I first listened to Video Games and was bored by it. But then I wanted to listen to it again. So the big question is: does it really matter that she didn’t start from the bottom and work her way up? Is Lana Del Rey sticking two fingers up to the music industry and other credible artists by effectively buying her way in? Or does the music speak for itself? who really cares? Maybe time will tell, but we all know what happened to Veruca Salt. Let’s hope for Lizzy Grant’s sake, that Lana Del Rey doesn’t end up in the garbage shoot. Written by Charley Ward
images courtest of the jezabels
fter three EPs released over two years, a steadily increasing fan base, shows at larger and larger venues at more and more locations worldwide and an ever growing hype surrounding the Sydney quartet, The Jezabels finally grace us with their debut album, Prisoner. Since they quietly shuffled onto the scene in 2009 with EP The Man Is Dead and follow ups She’s So Hard and Dark Storm, which drip fed to us a watertight trilogy of sound in gloriously melodramatic chunks, people began to sit up and take notice. Disco Biscuit Love, Mace Spray and Easy to Love all garnered airplay both at home in Australia and also in the US. Oh, and did I mention that they did all this (and continue to do so) without a record label? The Man really is dead, it seems. Prisoner starts with an ominous, unsettling feel as organs that wouldn’t go amiss in Phantom of the Opera open the record, reinforcing the fleeting gothic notions hinted at in tracks Mace Spray and Dark Storm. Chiming guitars follow and before long it’s all go. Prisoner is not something immediately different to what you’d expect after the release of Dark Storm. The Jezabels have a very unique sound that cannot boxed into a single genre and is best described as the self-dubbed ‘intensindie.’ This is not to say that this formulaic approach to making music is in any way playing it safe: Layers and layers of hard rhythm guitar, intricate piano arrangements and relentless drum beats are pinned together and woven into something chilling and magical by the effortless, multi-octave vocals of frontwoman Hayley Mary. The ‘big’ choruses of predecessors Mace Spray and Dark Storm are smashed into oblivion now with slow burning tracks such as City Girl unfurling grandiose and unexpected wails before a gut wrenching instrumental kicks in. This anguished, dramatic atmosphere is maintained with the six minute epic Long Highway and panic stricken Nobody, Nowhere before reaching cinematic heights with intrumental Austerlitz. You don’t even notice the lack of a bass player. Light relief is achieved with the first single Endless Summer, an uncharacteristically poppy lovestricken affair, ‘In my mind/you are an endless summer,’ with a cutesy video to match. Horsehead follows suit with an uplifting dance feel and a strong chorus. The lyrics take on a much more poetic structure in Prisoner than in previous efforts, all of which were written by main lyricist Hayley and scribed into one long letter to an actual prisoner. This is - under all the darkness and grandiosity and the spine-tingling strength of the vocals - a collection of love songs. In Deep Wide Ocean Hayley states, quite matter of fact: ‘And forever I will love you/for all time,’ in a beautiful, lingering love song, before peace of mind is achieved in aptly named Peace Of Mind immediately afterward: ‘There’s no need to complicate simple things/We’ll be fine/I always want your peace of mind/I always look forward to better days ahead.’ But the vulnerability wound around the splendour really hits home with album closer Catch Me, which offers up the previous heady notions in Long Highway, ‘Hear me roar!’ and surrenders to a quieter, simmering finish. All the high octave, brilliantly powerful, emotive vocals throughout the record fold to one brooding, resolute imperative: Catch me. With Prisoner, this band have really outdone themselves (if that’s even possible with a debut) and have firmly cemented themselves in the Ones To Watch Out For category. And with sell out, famed-for-theirintensity live shows and a full Australian tour later this month we’re all in for a shock. Hear me roar, they demand. We came, we heard. Now let us catch our breath. Review by Charley Ward
album of the moNth: prisoNer by the jezabels Australian four piece release their debut album Prisoner in the UK on the 3rd of April. 20
on’t worry about it! Everybody’s beautiful in their own way!” has been the war cry of many a parent or friend over the years in a vain attempt to salvage the self esteem of hoards of young women as they each scrutinise themselves thoroughly, in an almost regimental fashion in front of their mirror every day. Eyeing up their huge pores with horror, squeezing spots in a frantic bid to eliminate them before Saturday night or pulling at their stomachs in their less then perfectly manicured hands, the reassurance has been dutifully doled out that although their thighs are less than slender and their stomach less than toned, someone, somewhere thinks they’re beautiful. For some reason. Any reason. I don’t have to tell you that we live in an image obsessed culture where, for women especially, looking good is key. And sorry kids, but there will always be a culturally defined view of what is beautiful and what is not and most of you will not fit into the beautiful box. But whilst a lot of women are upset by this (and why shouldn’t they be when society continually sexualises us, trivialises us and demeans us for being ‘fat’/’ugly’/’plastic’) there is momentum building up online which seeks to challenge this mentality. The Body Positive movement in the blogosphere includes many websites whose aim is to publish photos of girls who have all come to terms with their bodies and have found acceptance and happiness in who they are, just as they are. One of the most popular of these sites is Stop Hating Your Body, a tumblr blog which is fuelled by reader submissions, many of which are accompanied with heartfelt personal stories regarding the submitter’s struggles with eating disorders and/or other issues stemming from negative body image before they started to heal and accept themselves. Each submission is ended with the phrase “Be brave! Join the body peace revolution!”
picture credit: image.net
“I have learned that sometimes, all you need is to look in the mirror and tell yourself straight up: you are beautiful, don’t let anyone change that.”
and all of them garner at least a few dozen ‘likes’ or ‘reblogs’ from appreciative followers. However, whilst the fact that these women are looking in the mirror and liking what they see is of course a good thing and in no way should that be understated, the commentary attached to each submission still reflects that main ideal: in order to feel happy about yourself you have to be attractive. ‘I have learned that sometimes, all you need is to look in the mirror and tell yourself straight up “You are beautiful, don’t let anyone change that.”’ - A submission on SHYB. But why should being attractive be the be all and end all today? Why are these women looking in the mirror and thinking “Fuck it, this is now what I am going to consider attractive,” and not just “Fuck it”? Is it really all that important? Why is the first thing that people rush to compliment women on their looks? People never introduce their friends to others as “Sarah and her beautiful husband,” but it goes without saying that if a woman is even moderately easy on the eye it is immediately flagged up for others’ attention. So it is clear to see why body image and weight are a source of contention for the majority of women today, but ladies, whether you’re starving yourself to look beautiful or reclaiming the word beautiful for your less than societally approved stretch marks, the fact of the matter is by focusing on it at all you’re still reinforcing the notion that to be worth something you have to be attractive. Would you not rather be appreciated for your wit or your humour or your intellect or the fact you’ve fundraised £3k for charity, than because you’re a fine piece of ass, regardless of whether that ass is a size 8 or a size 18? I propose a new revolution, and it shall be known as the revolution of finding your self worth from somewhere inside yourself and not from in front of the mirror. So when some douchebag asks you why you cut your hair short when ‘you looked so pretty with long hair,’ you can reply with Because fuck you, that’s why.
beautiful Not everyoNe caN be
and why should we be?
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Published on Sep 24, 2013