Lana Del Rey was raked over the Internet coals following her January 14 performance on “Saturday Night Live.” Her takes on “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” were greeted with near-universal vitriol from critics, music bloggers and even NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who in a now-infamous email to Gawker Media founder Nick Denton called her performance “one of the worst outings in ’SNL’ history.”
But the emerging pop star, whose debut album for Interscope, Born to Die, hit stores Tuesday (January 31), thinks she did a perfectly fine job on the legendary sketch show, telling Rolling Stone,“I actually felt good about it. I thought I looked beautiful and sang fine … I know some people didn’t like it, but that’s just the way I perform, and my fans know that.”
Del Rey did admit to being nervous, though in a more general sense, saying live performance has never been her strong suit because she is “not a natural performer or exhibitionist” and that when she was younger she “hated the focus; it made me feel strange.”
As the backlash intensified, Daniel Radcliffe, who hosted the January 14 show, came to Del Rey’s defense, telling reporters at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts nominations, “It was unfortunate that people seemed to turn on her so quickly. I also think people are making it about things other than the performance … if you read what people are saying about her online, it’s all about her past and her family and stuff that’s nobody else’s business. I don’t think [the performance] warranted anywhere near that reaction.”
Del Rey echoed those same sentiments during her brief sit-down with Rolling Stone, chalking the intensity of the criticism up to people’s general disdain for her public persona. “There’s backlash about everything I do. It’s nothing new,” she told the music mag. “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.”
Regardless of the criticism, Del Rey is moving forward. Whether she’s a particularly strong live performer or not, her Born to Die album is enjoying a mostly positive reception from music critics … those able to set aside their feelings about her as a public figure and focus on the music itself anyway. Slate’s Jonah Weiner commented that he liked the album more after a few listens: “The more time I spend in its company, the more I feel as though I’m approaching it on something like its own terms.”
MTV News’ own James Montgomery appreciated Born to Die even more, writing that Del Rey’s set is “positively brimming with atmospherics — soaring, sonorous strings, echoing electronic boom-bap, morose, maudlin guitar crescendos — all of which imbue it with a truly epic (if not unnecessarily dramatic) scope.”
The verdict on Del Rey’s musical future — and the impact the “SNL” fiasco and the endless think pieces that popped up in its aftermath — will likely come more sharply into focus this time next week when her first week sales figures are released.
What did you think of Lana Del Rey’s “SNL” performance? Leave your comments below.