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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
The Observer

Scene Takes On: Lana Del Rey

Lana web
Susan Zhu | The Observer
Susan Zhu | The Observer

Lanatics, the fanbase of Lana Del Rey, are crazy, hence the name. I saw Del Rey during her Endless Summer Tour in New York City, which was one of the last performances of the Governors Ball 2015. With knowledge of where and when she was performing that night, I sat through some obscure artists and waited hours hoping that I could grab a spot closer to the front.

As Big Gigantic, the band on before Lana’s set, finished playing, I was imagining a mass of people leaving and my friends and I taking their spots. What I didn’t expect was thousands of people continuing to push forward towards the stage. Oh, how naïve I was. The crowd was so packed that I barely needed to exert any effort to stay upright. I think I could’ve picked up both my legs and still have stayed in place. The concert was breathtaking and as Del Rey left the stage, people, including yours truly, refused to believe it was over. As I begrudgingly left the music festival, the experience of being packed like sardines got me thinking: Was this normal? The answer for most concerts: not really. For Lana’s concert: definitely normal.

The Lanatics have evolved. Lana’s success with her first album, “Born to Die,” attracted the attention of many women, some whom were still in their teens. But slowly, Del Rey has been amassing a larger army of Lanatics. With every interview, every critique thrown her way, every song and every signing event, her Flower Crown Cult grows ever larger. Some critics put Del Rey on the backburner, dubbing her army a small niche following, but the performance of her album sales reveals the truth. Her third album, “Ultraviolence,” was the culmination of artistic personality, unapologetic lyrics, warranted hype and the diehard fanbase. She’s had some trouble getting a large straight male following since it’s harder for men and teenage boys to relate to her music. However, this hard-to-reach demographic has begun growing as they recognize her singing ability and the deepness of her lyrics.

Not only has Del Rey worked hard to attract a diverse fanbase, but she also is embracing the movement of vinyl resurgence. The vinyl resurgence is considered to have started in 2011 and is largely propelled by skyrocketing vinyl sales within the U.S. In 2014, vinyl sales outperformed ad-supported streaming services like Vevo and Youtube, as well the free version of Spotify, according to Recording Industry Association of America reports. “Born to Die” placed third on 2014’s list of best selling vinyl albums, according to Nielsen and Forbes.

Del Rey has worked actively to promote not only her music but also the physical vinyl copies of her albums. She held promotional events at Urban Outfitters, the second largest retailer of vinyl after, all over the U.S, and at the one in Herald Square of New York City, she invited the first 125 shoppers who purchased the “Honeymoon” vinyl to a signing event later in the evening. Her dedication to her fans shone through when she, without hesitation, stayed at Urban Outfitters past the store’s closing time to make sure she had a moment with each and every one of her fans. The Lanatics deserved it, though; many of them camped outside the store the night before in anticipation of the event.

Del Rey has had her efforts recognized. She’s the top-streamed female artist on Spotify by U.S. users. She’s the only female artist to win two MTV European Music Awards in the “Best Alternative” category. She won GQ’s Woman of the Year Award. “Ultraviolence” peaked at No. 1 in 12 countries worldwide. And the list goes on.

Her work is stunning; her music will bring you back to the golden ages of American history. Much of her discography is dark and sultry. Some even describe her music as “sadcore.” Interestingly enough, some of her best songs — including "Serial Killer," which she performed on her Endless Summer Tour — are unreleased, meaning you can’t just buy it or stream it on Apple Music; you have to work for it.

Del Rey has made a name for herself and has gained a steadfast base of diehard fans. People have serenaded her as she’s passing by the street, others have cried when they meet her up close. She’s down-to-earth, has a great off-stage presence and has shown a great deal of appreciation for her loyal Lanatics.

I would easily consider myself among those fans. I’ve purchased all her vinyl albums and a record player just to listen to her music the way she wants us to. I ordered the box set of “Ultraviolence” and had it shipped from Germany because they don’t press it in the U.S. If I had been in New York City on Sept. 19, I definitely would have been camping out in front of the Urban Outfitters store waiting for “my queen.”