Now I don’t want this post to come across like some sort of ‘anti-art’ rant, and I am all for invention and myth-making in music (obvs some of the best alter ego-based careers have been forged pseudonymously, from Johnny Rotten to Lady Gaga to H from Steps), but the recent ‘media furore’ over Lana Del Rey got me thinking:
Isn’t this storm in a teacup just evidence that Lana Del Rey is the new Duffy?
Think about it: both are female solo artists who came to public attention with pseudo-retro looks and sounds – and both had previous, abortive, more mainstream attempts at chart success eradicated from the record books.
Briefly successful chart star Duffy (real name Aimee Duffy) launched her career off the back of a sort of Welsh X Factor show (called Waw Factor), with a shock of spiky blond hair and a neat line in MOR warbling. After that failed, she somehow re-emerged with a beehive and a weird ‘Dusty Springfield singing through her nose’ voice that led to huge commercial hits and a brilliant Diet Coke advert.
Fast forward several years and New York’s Lizzy Grant is struggling to find success with her Kill Kill EP, even though it’s got a song called Yayo on it. What does she do? Re-emerge with the ‘gangster Nancy Sinatra’ look and pretend none of the other stuff ever happened.
It’s not the reinvention that rankles, but the careful cleansing of each singer’s respective history to present only what they, or their publicists, want people to see. Katy Perry did the same thing – she released Christian rock-tinged country records before coming back as the all-consuming, girl-kissing superstar we now know.
- Do you care if someone comes back with a different persona after failing at music?
- What would music be like if no one ever pretended to be someone else?
- Should Lana Del Rey reissue her Lizzy Grant EP and album?
- Will Duffy ever return to music?
- At the end of the day, is this any different to Ziggy Stardust?
BONUS: Lana Del Rey Saturday Night Live performance