NOTE: As someone who is rapidly approaching his sixties, I find myself torn as to how I feel about the music that is being released today. The easy answer to that question is that I don’t really like much of it. I look at the music charts and struggle to know more than just a handful of the artists listed. Do most artists even use real names anymore? Is every song a collab.? I find it easy to be dismissive of today’s music. Conversely, I find it easy to take comfort in the music of my own life. I became musically literate in the 1980s. My library of songs leans heavily on the quarter century from 1975-2000. I enjoyed listening to that music back then and still do so today. Because of the way online algorithms work, I continue to be fed a fairly constant diet of those songs I listened to as I grew into adulthood. But the year 2000 was almost a quarter century ago itself. I find it hard to believe that music stopped being interesting after Y2K. The truth is that there still is interesting and relevant music being made today. I just have to force myself to dig a little deeper and look a little harder…beyond the industry-provided song charts, beyond the viral trending flavours of the month who come and go and finally, beyond the pre-packaged buzz that tends to stand in place of actual accomplishments today.
In writing about music and the people who make it, I have become more attuned to how music is created and shared these days and how different a marketplace it is compared to the 1970s and 80s. I am fascinated by the creative way technology is used to make music. I am still learning when it comes to how artists use social media to create a demand for their music and how they use technology to connect with their audience and distribute their tunes directly to their customers. These are amazing times in many ways. And beneath the surface of how the worlds of music and e-commerce have melded, there remain good musicians, singers and songwriters who are producing music worthy of my attention. It is music I think is worthy of your attention, too. Thus, for the past year and a bit, I have been setting aside one day per week to highlight new music for you. I have decided to do this because I think it is important for those of us who are maturing to stay somewhat connected to the world in which we actually live. The problem I am having with it all is that the Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40 series of posts that I publish is easily the series that has the lowest reader response. While I can’t read your minds, I do feel somewhat safe in assuming that when each new issue comes out you react the same way I do when it comes to today’s music and that is, you are generally dismissive of it. Well, I put a lot of work into bringing the stories behind six new songs to you each week, but that hard work seems not to be paying off. So, this week I am going to try a new approach. This week, I am going to profile a modern day artist of note that I think you should know more about. One artist. One new song. One profile. Let’s see how this goes. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter in the comment box below.
Today I wish to introduce you to a singer/songwriter who goes by the name Lana Del Rey. She is legally known as Elizabeth Grant but has always used a stage name since she decided to give live performing a serious try. Lana Del Rey is easily one of the more interesting artists around these days. As a society/industry, we love to put labels on artists/bands and then expect them to always “stay in their lane”. Well, Lana Del Rey is certainly someone who defies easy categorization. She has been dismissed as being anti-feminist, yet she has doggedly pursued her own unique artistic vision for well over a decade now. Del Rey used modern social media means to launch her career (promoting her music via YouTube long before having a record deal), yet much of her music and her visual style harken back to the 1950s. She is somewhat like Amy Winehouse in that regard. Lana Del Rey has a degree in philosophy and often writes songs that are highly literate and cinematic in effect, which makes her work not always the easiest to market in a world shaped by soundbites. And yet, Lana Del Rey has sold well over 32 million albums worldwide so far in her young career without having a #1 hit to her name. Finally, for me, Lana Del Rey occupies a unique space on my playlists because she is one of the very few artists whose in-studio work I prefer over her live performances. She seems so much more in her element when she is able to shape and craft her music exactly as she wants it to be, which is not always the case when one is singing live. I believe that she is an auteur…a throwback to a more glamorous time when Frank Sinatra ruled the airwaves and Lana Turner ruled the silver screen.
Over the course of her career, Lana Del Rey has released nine albums. She has earned multiple Grammy Award nominations and has won several Brit Awards, including the Ivor Novello Award for her songwriting. While her songs may not be as familiar as those released by the likes of Taylor Swift or Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey connects with her audience by different means and measures her success accordingly. Her YouTube account has been viewed over four billion times! Wow! Her most popular songs among her fanbase include songs such as “Video Games”, “Born To Die”, “Summertime Sadness” and “Young and Beautiful” (which was from the soundtrack to the film The Great Gatsby). She has a new album coming out in June called Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. She has pre-released several songs from this album, one of which is called “The Grants”. If you recall, her legal surname is Grant. This song is a beautiful ballad about the love she feels for her family. Being a published poet, her feelings are expressed extremely well. The piano accompaniment is perfect and helps to elevate “The Grants” into something very special. I hope that you will give it a listen.
So, that’s it. That concludes this week’s edition of Today’s/Tomorrow’s Top 40. I encourage you all to check out Lana Del Rey via the links to her hit songs that I have included within the body of this post, as well as the link to “The Grants” that can be found below. Lana Del Rey is a smart person with a very creative and artistic bent to her personality. Her website and YouTube channel are both well worth checking out should you wish to know more about her. Next week, I shall profile another modern artist/band and we will see how that goes, too. Hopefully you, like me, will develop an appreciation for these modern-day artists and the good music they are managing to create. The good times didn’t cease when Prince sang goodbye to 1999. They can be found today, too. You just have to know where to look. Hopefully, my searchlight can help to light the way for you. Until we meet again…take care. Bye for now.
The link to the video for the song “The Grants” by Lana Del Rey can be found here. ***The lyrics video is the only video available at the moment so click with confidence on the link above and you will be able to read Lana Del Rey’s excellent lyrics as you listen.
The link to the official website for Lana Del Rey can be found here.
The link to the video of her song “Young and Beautiful” being sung by the folks at Choir! Choir! Choir! can be found here. ***For what it is worth, this is one of my favourite Choir! Choir! Choir! renditions.
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