Lana Del Rey Leaves Early Adopters Behind
I have to admit, I ignored the Lana Del Rey phenomenon for a variety of reasons including the fact that great musical artists rarely look like beautiful movie stars and most of the hardcore hype was on sites I don’t follow. But somehow the now controversial Saturday Night Live appearance broke through the walls and, upon closer examination, I realize that Del Rey is a fascinating example of America’s unrealistic expectations for authenticity from performing artists even when they should know better. She is also an example in the arts of what the tech world calls “crossing the chasm” from early adopters to mainstream adoration.
I’m going to have to take various writers’ word that Lana Del Rey got a lot of hype on the web from indie music blogs and websites who ultimately turned on her when she turned out to have a prior identity and was destined to be a pop star. Popjustice has a wonderful takedown of the attacks by previously worshipful music writers when they realized she wasn’t their indie princess any more. But somehow they leave out the fact that we are talking about what are essentially a bunch of boy bloggers of varying ages in love with someone for whom they hoped to someday buy a PBR after her SXSW showcase only to realize that she is untouchable. Sorry, son. She ain’t for the likes of you.
Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
In a cover story for Billboard, Steven J. Horowitz points to her “authenticity” as the big initial pull. And what boy blogger wouldn’t love an authentic singer who looks like a glamorous movie star?
But it turns out “Lana Del Rey” is a stage name for a performing artist who had an earlier identity using her government name. You know, the name all those hip hop artists reject as if it was a political move.
Guardian writer Paul Harris has the audacity to compare Lana Del Rey’s earlier incarnation as Lizzy Grant “trying to make it in the clubs and bars of New York” as an attempt to follow a path laid down by Bob Dylan and Lady Gaga which she gave up to become Lana Del Rey.
Given that reinventing oneself and taking on a new name was the actual path of Bob Dylan and Lady Gaga, Lizzy Grant is more similar to Robert Zimmerman and Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.
That said, though many have turned on Lana Del Rey, she is also getting fresh support and increased visibility. The upcoming release of her debut album, “Born To Die,” will show us whether or not her supporters will win out. Given that it’s already #27 on Amazon’s music chart based on preorders suggests she’s well on her way to pop stardom. Since her actual first album was released as Lizzy Grant, this means she’s also breaking through the sophomore slump that has killed so many careers.
Del Rey’s progress towards pop stardom is remarkably similar to the progress of popular websites and services that are taken up by early adopters who obsess endlessly over every shifting detail. As the mainstream gets involved the early adopters move on, often blogging about their disappointment and sense of betrayal. This shift from early adopters to mainstream is called “Crossing the Chasm” from the book by Geoffrey Moore and is closely related to the technology adoption lifecycle.
It’s a treacherous journey, one in which “death by a thousand cuts” from the cutting edge can drain the life out of one before successfully being adopted by the mainstream. The ridiculous amount of coverage in mainstream media of the disappointment of so many boy bloggers, who wish they could be that guy in the Born To Die video (shown above) and now know it will never be, suggests Lana Del Rey has already crossed that chasm.
Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and music industry resources at Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.