"Her voice is not agile and overwhelming like Florence Welch’s; nor is it as aerobic as…"

“Her voice is not agile and overwhelming like Florence Welch’s; nor is it as aerobic as Beyoncé’s or Gaga’s; nor is it desultory and small, with a dollop of cuteness, like Feist’s or St. Vincent’s. It’s low and dark, with a threatened upper register that conveys rather than sheds its emotional burdens. It makes whatever she’s singing sound a little like the songs David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti wrote for Julee Cruise back in the Twin Peaks days, but those songs were about the atmospherics, and Lizzy Grant’s are about whatever led her to create the entity known as Lana Del Rey.”


I’ve purposely not read what “professionals” write about LDR because music writing is almost always awful, and music writing about women is definitely about 99.9% awful. And writing about women, also awful.*

But the above paragraph, in an otherwise excreable piece in Esquire by Tom Junod, is actually about LDR’s work, and descriptive and insightful about the art. Unfortunately in order to get to it, you have to wade through the rest of the piece, which begins with this apocalyptic scenario:

Like all other worlds these days, the world of female singers has become riven and divisive. The divide is so large that it’s not merely a matter of style anymore; rather, the female voice itself seems to have been split in half. On the radio, there are the booming divas singing of empowerment and revenge with their mechanistic melismata; in the drizzly samizdat of what used to be called indie rock, there are the wan wastrels, the massed legions breathily pleading for us not to hurt them. Once it seemed that every great girl singer was capable of generating her own style and fomenting her own revolution; now female singers seem bound to make a choice between sounding like precocious 12-year-olds keeping secrets or, well, like machines, complete with auto-tuning.

RIVEN AND SAMIZDAT. Plus, an epic battle between waifs and glamazons, which I thought was what happened in the 90s modeling world, or possibly in a Henry Darger film treatment.

Sure, it’s a ridiculous scenario—can’t wait for the Pop Conference to take it on!—but once Junod committed to only comparing females to other females, he had to liven it up somehow.

*Although you should read this terrific piece by Laura Hudson explaining the difference between a sexually active and empowered female character and one that’s been created for the male gaze in the context of comic books, because she breaks it down, like with side-by-side visual examples and still the comments are epic in just the way you know they would be.)

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