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Lana Del Rey Pairs Glamour and Pain
In 2011, Lana Del Rey escalated from little-known, previously shelved artist to YouTube sensation to major pop cultural meme. Why? Well, there are her sweetly sinister torch songs – only two official singles so far, "Video Games" and "Born to Die" – but they're worth remembering since you won't be escaping them any time soon. More potently, their videos manage to delight and repel viewers equally. Again, why? Del Rey is a mystery, and perhaps engineered to confound, and that bothers people who like their pop stars to assure us they are utterly self-aware. "Authenticity" qualms as an artist aside, audiences find her strangely alluring: attractive but "off,"discomfiting in the much-cited Lynchean sense, sexy but sad, and totally unlike anyone else preening in pop right now. Like Cults and Cat's Eyes, she reflects a continual urge to re-explore the smoldering tear-strewn ballads and tragedy hymns of the 1950s and 1960s, but her approach is more postmodern: more than any L.A. Noir siren, she resembles the 1990s Lost Lolita obsession à la Fiona Apple or American Beauty's Angela Hayes. Ironically, Del Rey may reflect the 1990s revival better than anyone else.