The battle over Lana Del Rey has been long and confusing, but there is one point on which all LDR-opinion-havers can agree: Her SNL performance was not particularly impressive. As in, it was a small disaster that set off a brand-new, Brian Williams–sponsored wave of Lana Del Rey backlash. Given the incident and resultant firestorm, it was almost brave for Lana to return to late-night television, which she did last night on Letterman. And thankfully, it was no SNL repeat. Not even close.
The low expectations here were certainly in Del Rey’s favor, but she looked far more comfortable onstage. (The Late Show cameras’ willingness to close in on her face, rather than pulling back to highlight her nervous gesturing, maybe helped matters. As did the classy string quartet in the background, which shared some of the screen time.) Her singing wasn’t as shaky — that little high part at the end of the “Video Games” chorus almost sounds natural — and at one point, hand to God, she actually smiled. How likable is Lana Del Rey when she smiles? Very likable, if you ask Dave and Paul Shaffer, who seemed totally smitten with Lana by the end. So, does this kick off the second backlash-to-the-backlash? Discuss.