When you are a fan of someone like Lana Del Rey, there are always skeptics out there that try to shame you for liking nefarious “pop” music. Everyone knows that there are people that hate Lana Del Rey just because she is popular — but is there any truth that she is not a “real” singer?
Recently, Lana Del Rey was included in an article that discusses how the music industry uses algorithms to sign talent these days — and this only makes popular artists like Lana Del Rey that are signed to major labels look fake, made-up, and robotic (in my opinion).
Was Lana Del Rey crafted from her own magical potion — or was she spit out of a computer like a robot?
Choosing musicians based on a computer program instead of sending out talent scouts with meticulous ears sounds absolutely terrible — but did Lana Del Rey get chosen for her record deal simply because the computer data told them to choose her? The short answer is yes — but only because people like “real” singers anyway.
What makes music fake in the first place? New York Magazine published an article about what it means to be a “real” celebrity in modern terms is to always be in the news headlines. This way, people know they are not faraway pop stars, but have a real life that has real problems too — just like fans.
But defining what a “real” singer is different than defining what makes a celebrity like Kim Kardashian so popular (despite the fact she has no artistic talent). Explaining their opinion on what makes music fake or real, the New Yorker says the following.
“Moviegoers don’t expect the lead actors to have written the screenplay, but listeners want to believe that singers write their songs. Acting can move you to tears, but a great song touches places in your heart that spoken words can’t reach, and it enhances the experience of hearing the song to believe the artist wrote it.”
The Max Online says, “What these people want to believe is that all music should be ‘organically created’ and anything that doesn’t fit into that schema is deemed fake… What does an entertainer like Rihanna possess that would make someone run over fire to profess their admiration for them?”
Max Online goes on to compare fake pop music to McDonald’s and states, “Why is McDonald’s successful?… There’s no art in the making of a fast food meal. But it’s also not meant to alter our perception of what makes a delicious dish… Not everyone has the desire to listen to music written by the creek on a homemade guitar while eating homegrown specially cooked meals, either.”
But is Lana Del Rey “real”? HyperBot makes it clear that some people believe that Lana Del Rey has no soul at all, and is in fact a music industry-created drone. They say about Lana Del Rey’s “adoption by the mainstream” that “many still focus on a variety of claims regarding how she came to be and who influenced her transformation from Lizzy Grant to Lana Del Rey.”
They go on to talk about how insiders came forward to validate Lana Del Rey’s background and show she is “real” and not just a fake persona based on algorithms. For example, David Nichtern was the first to sign Lana Del Rey in 2007, and said, “There’s a lot of misinformation that I’ve read [about Lana Del Rey] that’s dead wrong… It’s a little bit of a lesson for me. Nobody even fact-checked. For example… that whole thing that she was backed by her millionaire dad is a bunch of crap…”
Producer Blockhead said that after working with Lana Del Rey in 2009 that, “there is no doubt in my mind that that girl is talented. I’ve worked with all sorts of people over the years and she was one who stepped into the studio with a game plan and the ability to knock it all out in one take… ‘Lana Del Ray’ [sic] was a character and those lips were part of that plan.”
Jessica Hopper states, “I’ve never understood this controversy about whether she is real or fake… All artists have a persona… She’s not put together by some company. These are her songs, her melodies, her singing — she’s always had this ’60s aesthetic.”
Lana Del Rey has plenty of people that can tell you she is real, and that her music comes from her soul — but how did she get involved with something fake like music industry algorithms? It turns out that things are not as bad as first expected with the algorithms behind Lana Del Rey’s success.
The Independent U.K. published an article in early April, stating, “Discovering new music talent is an expensive business for record companies” and that algorithms like the ones search engines use may be the budget-saving solution.
In particular, the music industry is now using a Masters of Arts thesis by Prithwijit Mukerji that is titled Moneyballing Music: Using Big Data to Give Consumers What They Really Want and Enhance A&R Practices at Major Record Labels.
Mukerji is quoted as saying, “Moneyball is now common amongst baseball teams throughout the US. I thought that if it works there, why not apply it to music?… The music industry is already cautiously edging towards embracing big data.”
One of the ways that the music industry is using this data to make decisions about who to sign to their major labels next comes from Shazam. The Independent U.K. says about Lana Del Rey, “Shazam tags alerted Polydor Records that the song ‘Video Games,’ first posted online by Lana Del Rey in 2011, was gathering a huge response. Jamie Spinks, A&R scout at Polydor, told the Moneyballing Music report that the Lana Del Rey success ‘happened without anyone really knowing. That’s the sort of thing we’re looking for.’ “
At the end of the day, someone like Lana Del Rey is not and never was fake or built-up from the bottom by the music industry. Instead, Lana Del Rey simply fits the algorithms for what a majority of people like about a singer — and fan-driven technology like Shazam simply helped her obvious talent get recognized by the music industry.
Of course, if we believe anything that science has published over the past 10 years about how a woman’s voice can literally make a man tingle, we can see (and hear) why Lana Del Rey is so popular. As it stands to reason, no one needs a computer to tell them that Lana Del Rey might have been destined to rise as a star. Lana Del Rey is simply that one-in-a-million combination of sweet manners, eccentric brilliance, big brains, wonderful fashion sense, a harmonious singing voice — and lets not forget this polymath’s classic beauty.
[All images from the referenced links.]