Over the weekend, the Internet lightning rod that is Lana Del Rey made her national television debut on Saturday Night Live. If you don’t spend your time lurking in comment sections, or were out having meaningful interactions with human persons, or are just disinclined to watch the two videos included below, then let us summarize for you briefly: It didn’t go too well. Granted, the sound at SNL is famously bad, and Del Rey was visibly nervous, but still — the timid falsetto, shaky jumps between registers, that lip snarl. It was not her best work. And the fact that a Lana Del Rey performance can really only consist of Lana Del Rey standing dead center, preening, does not help her cause. How many moody pirouettes can one woman do, over the course of four minutes? (Like two and a half, by our count, during “Video Games.”)
But, of course, since it is Lana Del Rey we are discussing here, the quality of the performance has been overshadowed by the many heated responses it has attracted on the Internet. (The best, courtesy of Brian Williams: “Brooklyn hippster [sic] Lana Del Rey had one of the worst outings in SNL history last night — booked on the strength of her TWO SONG web EP, the least-experienced musical guest in the show’s history.”) Things had been quiet in LDR land — the “Born to Die” tigers and general yelling fatigue had seemed to briefly calm the waters. But with the rocky SNL performance, we’ve now arrived at “backlash to the backlash to the backlash” on LDR’s Undulating Curve of Shifting Expectations (or does it just switch back to Overhyped? Are we in the Backlash phase of the Backlash curve?). Meanwhile, Born to Die is not due until January 30. How many more times can we cycle through this thing in two weeks? Will everyone start feeling guilty for making fun of an obviously terrified 25-year-old on her first live TV performance? Or will the non-Internet-faithful, who just met Lana on Saturday, shame the rest of us for ever caring in the first place? Will Lana Del Rey run for president? Really, anything could happen at this point.