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Monday, January 23, 2012

The Real Problem With Lana Del Rey


As I said back in September on the WLFY Soundcast (Episode #10), the biggest problem with Lana Del Rey has nothing to do with the singer herself.  The debate has been furious and SNL only poured more gasoline on the fire, but while others talk about authenticity, plastic surgery, and talent (all valid conversations) the real problem in my mind is clear and simple...yet, it's never part of the discussion.

Lana Del Rey has received more coverage from independent music websites than any other artist in recent memory, all before even releasing an album.  This is not a think-piece – we've all done them. This is a simple matter of statistics.

Let’s look at Pitchfork and Stereogum, two of the largest sources for "independent" music readers:

PITCHFORK

LANA DEL REY 

Posts before album release (one week to go)
24 posts with Lana Del Rey in the title (more with her mentioned).  
2 tracks / 5 remixes / 2 music videos / 1 Rising Post - Interview / 1 Think-piece / 

What artists should we compare these stats to?  How about Bon Iver who created Pitchfork's #1 album of 2011.

BON IVER

Six months leading to his 9.5 BNM Album of Year record release

10 posts (being generous, counted a few on day of release).
2 tracks / 3 live videos / 2 music videos / 1 interview


STEREOGUM

LANA DEL REY

Posts before album release (one week to go)

32 Posts with Lana Del Rey in the title.  66 posts where she is mentioned.

Using the same idea, Stereogum's favorite album of 2011 came from the band Girls.

Girls
8 Posts before record release with Girls in title.  15 mentioned.


These numbers are insane.  I can't even begin to hypothesize why these two giants of independent media would dedicate more coverage to Lana Del Rey than their favorite acts of 2011.  One might argue that Lana Del Rey had more pre-album output then Bon Iver or Girls, but consider this: Lana Del Rey has two official singles and two music videos.  Let's say you throw in the SNL performance and one of the European live videos... that's six reasons to post – if you like her.  Now, throw in two remixes and an interview.  You know what, I'm feeling generous, throw in a think-piece.  With all that, our total of reasons to do Lana Del Rey posts peaks at ten.  Ten.  The amount Pitchfork dedicated to Bon Iver and two more than Stereogum gave to Girls.  It's embarrassing.

These websites are reading more like fansites, posting anything and everything related to Lana Del Rey.  Give any artist close to eighty mentions on two sites that pull in millions of readers and I guarantee you success will follow.  Pitchfork and Stereogum were used as examples and are not the only sites guilty of these absurd numbers.  Yes, Lana Del Rey has a team behind her, had plastic surgery to improve her looks, and her ability as a live talent is questionable.  Those have all been debated to death.  The real question is why did these "independent" music websites dedicate almost double (Stereogum quadruple) the coverage to Lana Del Rey than they did for the artists that created their favorite albums of the year?

22 comments:

Alexander
at: January 23, 2012 at 3:39 PM said...

I think a remix by Damon Albarn (the frontman for two extremely successful bands) is a valid thing for Beats Per Minute to post.

Todd says:
at: January 23, 2012 at 3:39 PM said...

This absolutely was a great post, especially when you see the numbers from Pitchfork & Stereogum. I think we posted a total of 3 with her: when "Video Games" came out, a remix with Clams Casino & Woodkid, and then my feature piece on the hype behind her. Its great if they wanna post her new music, but its like her daily routine of life is constantly being shared, when it is completely unnecessary.

Anonymous
at: January 23, 2012 at 3:40 PM said...

66! hahaha. Wow.

Anonymous
at: January 23, 2012 at 3:42 PM said...

I know for a fact that her label has people lobbying "indie" publications and websites to push her name out there as much as possible. Money still talks in this crazy world.

Patrick says:
at: January 23, 2012 at 3:45 PM said...

Because her dad has millions to spend on her publicity. I just wonder what Pitchfork and Stereogum are getting out of this other than a bad name.

Fake Plastic Tunes says:
at: January 23, 2012 at 3:46 PM said...

Those are crazy numbers. Her name is just blasted out all over the music media circles, as a music fan it is hard to not take a look in and see what all the fuss is all about. She could very well be the Kim K of music, I am sure the pub and the money doesn't hurt too badly.

Nice work music blog detective!

chris says:
at: January 23, 2012 at 3:48 PM said...

I agree with you 100%. She IS way overpublicized. Which makes me wonder why you so often rant about LDR on twitter, and so rarely are those rants tied to Stereogum/Pitchfork.

Anonymous
at: January 23, 2012 at 3:49 PM said...

Please choke yourself for using the term "think piece."

Anonymous
at: January 23, 2012 at 3:50 PM said...

These numbers make me ill.

Taylor says:
at: January 23, 2012 at 3:51 PM said...

I was just thinking the other day how Stereogum and pitchfork had become like TMZ for LDR. It's completely absurd and unnecessary to post that much about one person. Why should I care so much about mediocrity? Why do they think that we care so much? There's another theory to this...She must give fantastic blow jobs...I'm sorry is that offensive?! :D

Taylor says:
at: January 23, 2012 at 4:05 PM said...

you can't begin to hypothesize why this is?

let me hypothesize for you.

when you make a post with Lana Del Rey in the title, tons of people click on it -- a phenomenon you are now witnessing on your own post.

when your ad dollars are tied to how many visitors you get, those clicks translate directly into money.

websites that are financed by ad dollars have every reason in the world to keep posting about her because it translates into the money that keeps them solvent.

i'm not saying that's the way things should be, but that's the way they are.

we have no one to blame but ourselves for this overcoverage. when we click on these posts, it incentivizes these blogs to post more about her.

terrific post, by the way.

Anonymous
at: January 23, 2012 at 4:28 PM said...

66 posts, get the fuck out of here.

pop b.
at: January 23, 2012 at 4:38 PM said...

I've said this via twitter, I think we underestimate how crucial image is for an artist. A female artist more importantly. LDR had the strongest image in music in 2011. Strong images make great memes, memes generate hits...

LDR was always going to be mainstream. Indie blogs fell in love with the images and with the hits that came along. If you think about it there no one who's more boring-looking than Bon Iver. C'mon her images are usually very iconic and sexy. All articles about her have her picture on it and people will click on pleasant pictures if they can.

I find it more damaging to females than anything. She herself changed her looks and met success. I can see how thousands of women will look now for extreme plastic surgery before attempting a music career. Fact. No guys have to go through so much focus on their looks. When she was just cute, nothing, once she became flawless, everything. It's hard to escape that reality. I used to think "indie" meant something, after the whole blog embrace thing I think women are just as fucked in indie as elsewhere. As in looks do most of the talking.

Heycoolkid! says:
at: January 23, 2012 at 5:03 PM said...

I've always thought they were hyping her up because of the obvious trajectory her album was going to go in. Thus giving them street cred later on when they say not only did we bring her to you first we did it before she "sold out". The same way with kanye, the same way with The Black Keys.

heycoolkid! says:
at: January 23, 2012 at 5:04 PM said...

Pitchfork and Stereogum are not on our side anymore I wish people would stop treating everything they do as if it were the second coming

Anonymous
at: January 23, 2012 at 6:11 PM said...

Dare I say... http://www.modestoradiomuseum.org/payola.html

Qommy says:
at: January 24, 2012 at 9:36 AM said...

It's kinda the same thing with Odd Future and Sleigh Bells. Hype makes people like weird things. Lana really isn't that great. I totally agree with you/

Kathryn says:
at: January 24, 2012 at 11:11 AM said...

How many posts, tweets and soundcasts have you posted about her, Zach?

Zach Hart says:
at: January 24, 2012 at 11:18 AM said...

@Kathryn One post (this post) and a soundcast. So two. Both were analyzing the conversation and not promotional. But 64 less then Stereogum.

Christopher R. Weingarten says:
at: January 31, 2012 at 12:31 AM said...

i for one am shocked and appalled that these two incredibly successful music publications would stoop to posting about things their audience wants to read about

Anonymous
at: January 31, 2012 at 8:42 PM said...

better learn the difference between "then" and "than"

@JRDeFlavio
at: February 18, 2012 at 10:31 AM said...

Maybe this has been mentioned, but what about Odd Future? No one accuses Tyler of having a publicist, but I would vet he got even more coverage than LDR. I personally think he created a ton of enthralling content, but this same argument could apply. Interesting no one even THOUGHT to accuse Odd Future of "having a publicist"....

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