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Lana Del Rey Talks 'SNL' Performance

The singer opens up about the backlash

January 30, 2012 2:15 PM ET

Lana Del Rey performs at Scala in London.
Lana Del Rey performs at Scala in London.
Andy Sheppard/Redferns

Just 36 hours after the most polarizing Saturday Night Live performance in recent memory, Lana Del Rey is in New York, eating a cookie. "I actually felt good about it," she told Rolling Stone. "I thought I looked beautiful and sang fine." But it's clear that Del Rey has been rattled by the overwhelming Internet vitriol hurled her way after her awkward renditions of two tunes, including the breakout single "Video Games."

How did it feel to sing on live TV?
It felt OK. The cast and crew said they loved it. I know some people didn't like it, but that's just the way I perform, and my fans know that.

Are you comfortable onstage?
I'm nervous. I'm not a natural performer or exhibitionist. When I was younger, I hated the focus, and it made me feel strange.

The backlash to that performance has been pretty harsh.
There's backlash about everything I do. It's nothing new. When I walk outside, people have something to say about it. It wouldn't have mattered if I was absolutely excellent. People don't have anything nice to say about this project. I'm sure that's why you're writing about it.

Have I given you the impression that I don't like your music? I do! Especially the song "Radio."
No. I don't know how you feel about it. It's not easy to gauge how people feel about it. I don't really want to go into it. But thank you, I love "Radio" too.

There's no confusing how Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield feels about Del Rey's debut LP. "Given her chic image, it’s a surprise how dull, dreary and pop-starved Born to Die is," says Sheffield. "It goes for folky trip-hop ballads with a tragic vibe, kinda like Beth Orton used to do. Except she could sing." Read the full Born to Die album review.

This Q&A by Austin Scaggs is excerpted from the February 16, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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