Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Lana Del Rey.
Lana Del Rey announced an upcoming album in the wee hours of Thursday morning by uploading to Instagram a lengthy preamble in which she lashed out at critics who have allegedly accused her of “glamorizing abuse” through her music.
“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 … cheating etc,” the Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter wrote. “Im fed up with female writers and alt singers saying that I glamorize abuse when 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.”
Backlash to Del Rey’s post arrived swiftly. Without denying that double standards exist within the music industry, critics found fault with her decision to name a largely black roster of female artists before stating that “there has to be a place in feminism for women who look and act like me.” Pieced together, her claims seemed to insinuate that these artists hadn’t faced the same level of criticism in their careers.
Themes of abuse are woven throughout Del Rey’s work, most notably in the title track of her 2014 album, “Ultraviolence,” which references the Crystals’ 1962 single “He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)” in the chorus. (The album title could also be interpreted as a reference to Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel “A Clockwork Orange,” in which “ultraviolence” is a term that refers to unprovoked brutal violence.) Some critics at the time did express concerns over Del Rey’s handling of abuse: Time magazine, for instance, wondered whether the song glorified domestic violence and quoted a 2013 Fader interview in which pop singer Lorde referred to Del Rey’s previous record as “so unhealthy for young girls to be listening to.”
“Here’s a little sidenote on your piece I don’t even relate to one observation you made about the music,” Del Rey wrote in response to Powers tweeting the review. “There’s nothing uncooked about me. To write about me is nothing like it is to be with me. Never had a persona. Never needed one. Never will.”
The tweet sparked conversations on social media about the purpose of music criticism, and who it serves. Powers, for her part, told the Los Angeles Times she respected Del Rey and that “it is a critic’s responsibility to be thoughtful and honest to herself in responding to artists’ work, and an artist’s prerogative to disagree with that response.”