Name of said doll was Lana Del Ray. Intriguing. I did a quick scan of my memory banks. Nope, didn't ring a bell. Could it be new? But this sound was very accomplished, very distinctive... most unusual. Could this be happening? Could we really being seeing something NEW and EXCITING in the world of pop music?
As any fule kno, this is akin to stumbling across a chestful of gold doubloons when snorkelling off your favourite beach. ie, not incredibly likely. And yet here we are. Lana doesn't even have an album out yet. Of course, there is considerable buzz being generated around her music on the interwebz. This is the way it is done nowadays...
For a start, there is a ton of Lana material avail on YT. She seems to be using the ever popular cultural phenom as a highly effective means of getting the word out. Lots of it is video footage captured by her growing legions of fans at her concerts. Normally video cameras are banned at live performances, but this doesn't seem to be the case with Lana's shows. A canny move.
So where did this gal spring from? Well, according to her rather sparse Wikipedia entry, she's from the Big Apple. Yeah she's a NooYawker. With a cool Brooklyn Noo Yawk accent no less. Apparently daddy is a rich dude, who made his mills from domain investing, whatever the heck that is. But we wont hold that against her... much.
The name Lana Del Ray is a stage name. Real name is Elizabeth Grant. Lana Del Ray is a combo of Lana Turner and the Ford Del Ray. Yeah, a car. Not a particularly attractive one either so that aspect of it is is a mystery. We can understand the Lana Turner reference. Beautiful platinum blonde movie star who liked gangster types, died a tragic death in an automobile accident that caused her head to be separated from her body. But the Ford? Hmmm.... clearly the 50s/60s is a big inspiration to her, as well it should be. She digs deep from the well of the past and is smitten with the glamour of old world Hollywood. Nowt wrong with that!
Now admittedly, Lana is blessed with more than her fair share of natural gifts. Apart from the voice, she is obviously not hard to look at. As in she resembles Julia Roberts' younger sister. With this really great chestnut auburn, Ann Margret style red hair. Yeah...that's right. Blammo! But still, good looking singers are a dime a dozen. What exactly is it about Lana that's different?
Well, just take a listen to her music. It's not screechy, mindless bimbo pop. Its the opposite of that. It's blue velvety torch singer stuff. With lots of soul and great stories. With a real band that can play. It's not alternative and it ain't Diana Krall revisiting the classics neither. So what gives here? Who is this doll? What's her story? Why is she obsessed with the past and that old Hollywood glamour? Why does she wear too much eye-liner? Did she read Valley of the Dolls before she could handle it? Whatever it is, I like it. It is undoubtedly cool.
It's hard to say what the music world is going to do with Lana. The pop music industry likes its categories. Which makes it interesting. Who is going to grab onto this? Will she fall between the cracks and become a niche, cult thing like Chan Marshall and PJ Harvey or go really big? At this stage its hard to tell. She's no shrinking violet that's for sure, although her persona is distinctly off-beat... a little weird. Cultivated? Maybe, but to what end?
So it remains to be seen what will happen to Lana. One thing is for certain - I will be watching with interest. She feels like a genuine discovery, a bolt from the blue. And in today's super cynical, media savvy, digitalised world, that's a rare thing... a real Hadron Collider 'god particle' discovery.
Get a load of this performance filmed at the Chateau Marmont for starters. Get a load of the deep German inflections. Not sure what's up with that... Nico obsession perhaps?
Here she is being interviewed at the same location, discussing its significance in her music:
Lana doing Off to the Races at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester. Love this song:
Here is she doing China Doll. Little bit of Kate Bush coming through here.
More... its addictive I tell ya! Get a load of the quirky little movements...