Lizzy is an Artist (A Pop Story in Three Parts)

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Prologue

I blame Milli Vanilli for the furore surrounding Lana del Rey. Not that I ever liked the duo (seriously, I really didn’t), but there were a good few people who loved them which is why (I guess) they won the 1990 Grammy for Best New Artist (ok, maybe that doesn’t mean very much). It wasn’t long after that, people found out they’d been lip-synching the whole time – and not to their own voices (as that certainly wouldn’t have been a such big deal). Turned out they were frauds, so their fans felt well and truly suckered. I realize there are some out there who probably don’t remember this scandal (since it was over twenty years ago, you can check out a news clip of the brouhaha here), but the legacy lives on. No one wants to get duped again, which is why Lana del Rey is getting more flak right now than a bomber crew over Berlin. And especially for those who might be considered pop culture hipsters, the stakes are particularly high. They don’t want to be caught out. These types love to be the first to discover an up and coming artiste. Their reputation is forged on it. As a result, most writers have just come out and slammed her (after initially salivating), others have maintained guarded praise – but sown with enough doubt that if it all blows up, they can still join the ranks of those who will undoubtedly proclaim “Ha! I told you so!” And finally, there is the small minority of the rest, reputation be damned, who admit they actually like her.

I don’t understand the vitriol. Lana del Rey wouldn’t be the first pop star to create a memory hole of her past (and having a father in the internet business must help). The facts are these: Video Games and Blue Jeans are decent songs – artfully-mournful enough to ensnare (if for a brief moment) the tastemakers – but her performances are meh (bordering on just bad). She’s pretty, but her face is a little, shall we say, unsettling. However, the reality is if I didn’t insert the names of the song, you could probably think of at least 20 other artists who fit that description. So really, what is the big deal? Is authenticity really that important? We’re practically in the Great Depression (financial and emotional), so isn’t it more important to be entertained?

Still, I did have a bit of fun re-imagining the former Lizzy Grant’s rise to notoriety. Thus, Lizzy is an Artist (A Pop Story in Three Parts). Just had to be done.

Lizzy is an Artist – Part One

“Daddy?”

“Yes, honey?”

“I want to be a star. I need your help.”

“Honeykins, you can be whatever you want. You don’t need my help.”

“Yes, I do, Daddy. People have been mean to me.”

“What people, Lizzy? Who has been mean to my little honeybunny?”

People, Daddy, people. They don’t get me because they are vulgar. I’m like an artist – a major artist. You know, like the guy who did that painting in your office?”

“Which office is that? The one in New York, Phoenix or Miami?”

“The one here, Daddy, here. Ugh, are you listening you to me?”

“You mean Jasper Johns?”

“Yeah, him! I’m an artist like Jasper Johns.”

“Well, of course you are, Lizzy. You’re even better than Jasper Johns.”

“Yes, Daddy, I am. But I need your help. I want to sing, and I, um, need to show the world my art. Can you help me get a gig in Manhattan? ”

“Get you a what?”

“A gig, Daddy! OMG, you are so not with it. A gig, Daddy, a performance. I want to sing in front of an audience.”

“I can’t imagine that would be too hard. Where does one sing these days?”

“Well, I’d like a gig at Madison Square Garden, but if there’s a basketball game or something, next choice would be Carnegie Hall or Radio City. Absolute worst case:  Hammerstein Ballroom. But that’s like really, really pushing it. I need space to showcase my art.”

“Uh-huh. Well, Lizzy, let me get my secretary to look into that for you and I’ll let you know.”

“Oh, thank YOU, Daddy! OMG, you are useful. Ooh, I can’t wait to tell Rachel and Heather. They are going to be so jealous! OK, I have to go update my facebook status. Big kiss!”

“Memo to Doris: Get Lizzy a gig at MSG. Scott O’Neil owes me a favor. Oh, and check on my Knicks tickets. I need to be on the floor for the next game. That’s all.”

END OF PART ONE

3 responses »

  1. Ugh, her voice is so flat and monotonous. That’s why I have the hardest time finding artists from this decade that I like (save for Esperanza Spaulding—love her). A lot lack the drive and talent to create great music.

    • I wouldn’t give up on artists from the 2000s just yet. You need to know where to look. Off the top of my head: Feist, St. Vincent, Dirty Projectors, Janelle Monae, Santigold. I could go on. Not to mention artists from the 80s and 90s still making excellent records. For pointers, I’d check out sites like Pitchfork and Stereogum, as well as NPR music page and KCRW’s 24 Hour Eclectic radio station on iTunes, and RadioDavidByrne (playlist on his website). Keep hope alive! x

      • I’ve listened to Janelle Monae. She’s cool too. I like her androgynous style.

        Thanks for the other suggestions. I’ll check them out sometime.

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