Long announced, often postponed, we finally know the release date of Lana Del Rey's new album. It will be September 5, according to a note posted on his Instagram account. But the info was overshadowed by the rest of the text published by the musician, where she defends herself from “glamorizing abusive relationships”. And evokes, as counter-examples, the musicians who are currently at the top of the charts: “Now that Doja Cat, Ariana (Grande, editor’s note), Camila (Cabello, editor’s note), Cardi B, Kehlani, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé have all been number one with songs that were about being sexy, not wearing clothes, fucking, cheating etc. - can i please keep singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful while in love even if the relationship isn't perfect, dancing for money - or what i want - without being crucified?” The controversy is growing to such an extent that Lana Del Rey must react in a video posted on her Instagram account on Monday, May 25.
It has frequently happened that Lana del Rey's texts have been described as backward-looking, not in tune with the current renewal of feminism. In 2013, in an interview with The Fader, New Zealand singer Lorde said in an interview that she found her "great", but felt that it was "really unhealthy for young girls to listen to songs who say “I am nothing without you”.
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Two years later, proofs of Girl in the Band, Kim Gordon's autobiography of Sonic Youth, leaked online. The latter wrote that Lana Del Rey "didn't even know what feminism was": "She believes that women can do whatever they want which, in her world, amounts to self-destruction, whether in sleeping with dirty old guys or getting raped by a gang of bikers.” The passage had been removed from the final version of the book. But had to stay across the throat of the author of Blue Jeans.
In her Instagram post, Lana Del Rey says it very clearly: “Let it be clear, I am not an anti-feminist. But there must be a place in feminism for women who look like me and act like me - the kind of women who say no when men hear yes - the kind of women who are slaughtered without mercy because they are themselves in the most authentic, delicate way, the kind of women who have their own stories and their own voices.”
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The musician, who recently broke up with her last boyfriend, police officer Sean Larkin, finally reflects on how her love stories inspired her songs: "I have always approached my complicated relationships in an honest way and optimistic. Scoop: this is how it goes for many women. According to her, her approach "really paved the way for other women to stop 'looking good' and say absolutely whatever they wanted in their music."
Statements that are controversial. On Instagram, a comment the jealous forties tax: “Billie Eilish took your place”. Others wonder about this famous “path” that she would have opened: “Nobody made sad songs before you?? Lol this is the most lamentable and narcissistic statement of all time! (…) Don’t throw other artists under a bus because you didn’t get the attention you wanted.” Or again: “You could have explained your music instead of attacking other women.”
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By mentioning Doja Cat, Beyoncé or Nicki Minaj, Lana Del Rey was also accused of racism. In an article published on the website of the British daily The Guardian, on May 21, journalist Laura Snapes points out how "Lana Del Rey's tackle to her pairs of color serves her feminist argument": considering black women as "hypersexualized is a historically racist reflex – a persistent gesture, which has made its artists objects of media derision far more widely than Lana Del Rey will ever experience”.
Again, the latter defended herself in the comments of her post: "It's sad to make this subject a problem for women of color, when they are my favorite artists (...) . That's exactly what my post is about - there are some women who culture doesn't allow to have a voice, maybe it has nothing to do with race, I don't know what it is . I don't care now, but don't ever ever ever ever ever call me a racist again, because that's shit." The artist ended up posting a new video on May 22, taken from one of his clips, with the only caption a laconic “#fuckoff”.
Since then, she has cracked a new Instagram post on Monday, May 25, to try to shed light on her remarks. "No one has the right to tell your story," the post caption reads. “I just wanted to remind you that this post, the one and only personal statement I have ever made, was centered on the need for fragility within the feminist movement”, she explained in this six-minute sequence. The singer continued, addressing those who accuse her of racism: "And when I talk about women who look like me, I didn't mean white women like me, I meant the kind of women that people don't believe, because they're like, 'Oh, well, look at her, she fucking deserves it', etc."
She also lamented that her “friends, peers and contemporaries” – the singers mentioned in her first post, in particular – evoke the same subjects as those on which she has been singing “for thirteen years” without, according to her, undergoing the same attacks. "The difference is, if I pole dance, people call me a bitch, but when FKA Twigs does it, it's art," she said.
Returning to the accusations of racism of which she was the object, the interpreter of Born To Die protests: “You can call me what you want, I am sorry for not having added a Caucasian person (.. .) to the list of women I look up to,” she added. Before concluding: "I'm not the enemy, and I'm definitely not racist, so don't get me wrong. (…) God bless you and, yes, get out if you don't like the post.”Lana Del Rey, who canceled for health reasons the European tour which was to take her to Paris on June 7 at the We Love Green, himself aborted due to the health crisis, had mentioned his projects in his first post. She promised to "return in detail to some of her feelings" in two upcoming books of poetry, the profits of which will go to associations supporting the cause of the Amerindians. And in his next album, expected now more than ever.
*This article originally published on May 22, 2020 has been updated.