Lana Del Rey isn’t a name often associated with controversy (apart from that time she planned a concert in Israel to “bring people together”).
Although the singer has in the past been accused of “glamorising” depression, death and abuse, Del Rey remains mostly quiet on the topic, bar a fierce attack on a music critic who wrote a review about Del Rey’s latest release, "Norman F***ing Rockwell", that the musician vehemently disagreed with.
However, this morning Del Rey broke her usual silence – and set off a social media storm.
What did Lana Del Rey say?
In a lengthy note, posted to her Instagram feed, Del Rey ranted about double standards that she had perceived in the music industry:
Now that Doja Cat, Ariana [Grande], Camila [Cabello], Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, f***ing, cheating etc – can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money – or whatever I want – without being crucified or saying that I’m glamourising abuse??????
She went on to say that she was “fed up” with accusations from “female writers and alt singers” that she glamorised abuse.
“In reality I’m just a glamorous person singing about the realities of what we are all now seeing are very prevalent emotionally abusive relationships all over the world,” Del Rey continued.
She also called it “pathetic” that her lyrics attracted critique.
With all the topics women are finally allowed to explore… I think it’s pathetic that my minor lyrical exploration detailing my sometimes submissive or passive roles in my relationships has often made people say I’ve set women back hundreds of years.
I’m not not a feminist – but there has to be a place in feminism for women who look and act like me – the kind of woman who says no but men hear yes… the kind of women who get their own stories and voices taken away from them by stronger women or by men who hate women.
Why have Lana Del Rey's comments provoked backlash?
For several reasons.
Primarily, people have taken issue with the singers Del Rey chose to compare herself to in arguing that she’d been subjected to more criticism.
Out of the seven women on Del Rey’s list, only one is white.
The others are all black, mixed race or Latinx.
Some say Del Rey’s comments – which imply she has received a higher level of negative scrutiny for her music than them – ignores racialised criticism the likes of Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj have suffered throughout their careers.
Lana blatantly ignoring the criticism Beyoncé, Nicki, and other black women have received (and continue to) for bei… https://t.co/Z2GylXepOT
There were reminders of the specific, harrowing difficulties the women Del Rey cited had faced.
Others said the way she described her music (“being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love”) versus how she frames that of her peers (“songs about [...] wearing no clothes, f***ing, cheating”) was a little… off.
There was also confusion as to why Kehlani was named – she’s yet to achieve a number one single.
I’m crying cause Kehlani doesn’t even have a number 1 single, Lana just threw her name in there to add more ethnics… https://t.co/rUufNzUHMH
Will she? Who knows. With Del Rey’s apparent new no-holds-barred attitude, perhaps. But she might want to take a leaf out Alison Roman’s book, a chef who was recently criticised for using women of colour in a disparaging comparison to her own career and penned a lengthy apology about white privilege as a result.
Either way, Del Rey received the attention she ordered.