Category: Saturday Night Live

Lana Del Rey unveils video, to appear on 'American Idol' March 22

  Lana Del Rey will play residencies in L.A. and N.Y. in June 3-20-2012

The Lana Del Rey juggernaut continues: The hotly debated singer will do a pair of three-night residencies in June, the first at the El Rey in Los Angeles followed by another in her native New York.

The El Rey stint runs June 3-5, for which tickets go on sale Saturday, and her Irving Plaza engagement is June 7, 8 and 10, on sale Friday.

She’ll also have a shot this week at redeeming, or confirming, her endlessly discussed national television debut appearance on "Saturday Night Live" in January, as she's slated to sing “Video Games” on Thursday’s episode of “American Idol.”

In addition, a new video for her song “Blue Jeans” from the "Born to Die" album, which has sold 160,000 copies since its release in January according to Nielsen SoundScan, has just arrived on YouTube. An earlier video for the song that was something of a travelogue through vintage Las Vegas has racked up nearly 11 million hits since it was posted in September.

The new one, directed by Yoann Lemoine, is a stylish black-and-white noir-ish scene of a romantic poolside encounter between Del Rey and her heavily tattooed objet d’amour. It can be seen here:



Album review: Lana Del Rey's 'Born to Die'

'SNL' introduces the world to Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey likes Britney Spears, shrugs off haters  

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Lana Del Rey. Credit: Nicole Nodland.

Watch it now: Jay-Z and Beyoncé's baby on 'Saturday Night Live'

"Saturday Night Live" has been on target lately with its music-world sketches. Latest case in point: This weekend's hilarious bit involving hip-hop power couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé's new addition to the world, their baby girl Blue Ivy.

The comedy institution hasn't always been tapped into the beat. Don't hold us to historical record here, but it seems as if there was a long and lonely time, where cold winds blew across the empty plains of "SNL," in terms of pop stars and their endless foibles. Talk about missed opportunities! (And no, just for the record, a smarmy Justin Timberlake pretending to wrap his private parts in a box doesn't count, as awesome as it was.)

A few weeks ago, Kristin Wiig took to Seth Meyers' "Weekend Update" as Lana Del Rey, to defuse the backlash that exploded on the torchy singer after singing a couple of songs that either flopped, confused or mesmerized, depending on your position. "Based on the public's response," Wiig-as-Lana tells Meyers, "I must have clubbed a baby seal while singing the Taliban national anthem."

This weekend's sketch doesn't handle something nearly as contentious. At the center of it all is a well-coiffed Blue Ivy, in her crib, feted by a variety of famous visitors -- a parade, it turns out, of top-notch imitations from the "SNL" cast, including a suitably awkward Bon Iver, played by Timberlake sporting a fake bald pate.

We won't ruin the best moments for you, but we wish we had Jay Pharoah hanging around the Pop & Hiss office, ready at a second's command to launch into his spot-on Jay-Z "ha-ha-ha-ha, YEP!" call.


'SNL' introduces the world to Lana Del Rey

Bon Iver on 'SNL': Indie-pop at its most easy-listening

Jay-Z celebrates his 'greatest creation' in new song 'Glory'

-- Margaret Wappler




Bon Iver on 'SNL': Indie-pop at its most easy-listening

Click here to read the Times' profile of Bon Iver
The hushed, don't-speak-or-you'll-miss-it synth-adorned folk of Bon Iver was a surprise top nominee for Feb. 12's Grammy Awards. However, the band was no doubt more at home last night on "Saturday Night Live," which has opened 2012 with a string of adventurous musical bookings. Following the husky, torch-signer camp of Lana Del Rey and preceeding the novelty pop of Karmin next week, the Justin Venon-led Bon Iver performed a pair of songs that slowed the show to lullaby pace. 

The campfire-friendly reclusive pop of "Holocene" is an unlikely Grammy nominee for record and song of the year. Rare do Grammy voters opt for subtle, and Bon Iver's "Holocene" stands out amid the heady drama of Kanye West and the knockout vocals of Adele for simply being so easily ignorable.

"Holocene" is all mysterious imagery and lightly plucked hypnotic guitars, and the song was fleshed out on "Saturday Night Live" with easy-listening brass and wind chimes. Paired with Vernon's falsetto, which has always been more an instrument than a means for lyrical articulation, and the mini-orchestra placed a premium on tranquility. 

PHOTOS: Grammys 2012: Top nominees

"Holocene" was a much better offering for network television than the second song, "Beth/Rest." While Vernon's lyrics drift toward the abstract, the song showcased Bon Iver's puzzling affection for '80s cheeseball balladry, and it came off even more hokey live than it does on record. Musically, it sounded like a deconstructed version of Don Henley's "End of the Innocence," a retro, synth-pop exercise rather than a song.

After the 2008 release of debut “For Emma, Forever Ago," Vernon's Bon Iver project became an instant indie rock myth. The story of the solitary Vernon recording the album in the Wisconsin woods with just a guitar and laptop captured the musician as a tech-savy hermit and caught the attention of everyone from critics to West, who invited Vernon to participate in the recording sessions for his 2010 album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy."

Follow-up "Bon Iver, Bon Iver" has become a modest hit. It's sold more than 350,000 copies in the U.S., according to Niesen SoundScan, and earned the act a best new artist nomination at this year's Grammy Awards. Yet there's a good chance the more mainstream Grammy audience won't even get to know Bon Iver.

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Lana Del Rey's friends and foes: A primer

Lana Del Rey is set to celebrate the one-week anniversary of her near-disastrous (or completely disastrous) debut performance on "Saturday Night Live." And now that the dust has settled a bit, the Twitterverse has calmed and the pundits have spoken, the show business newcomer can survey the landscape and determine who out there has her back and who she can safely delete from her concert guest list for the foreseeable future.

Surprisingly, "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams was first out of the gate as a foe. Soon after the performance, the normally impartial newsman purportedly emailed Gawker owner Nick Denton to encourage him to do something on Del Rey, which he described as "one of worst outings in SNL history." (Much to Williams' chagrin, Gawker editors posted his email in full on their site).

Gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who once took a vow to be nicer to celebrities, tweeted, "Just watched SNL. Not only was @LanaDelRey vocally WAY off, but watching her utter lack of stage presence was cringe-worthy. #DontBuyTheHype."

And actress Eliza Dushku just had to ask, " wack-a-doodle chick performing on #SNL..? Whaaaa?"

Even record labels came out swinging against the lovely Del Rey. DFA Records, the label co-founded by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, took a pre-emptive foe stance when it tweeted on Jan. 7: "Lana Del Rey plays Saturday Night Live next week... LCD Soundsystem tried for 6 years to play Saturday Night Live. Isn't 'too soon' ok advice?"

Singer and actress Juliette Lewis also became an instant foe with her tweet, "Wow watching this 'singer' on SNL is like watching a 12 year old in their bedroom when they're pretending to sing and perform #signofourtimes."

However, Lewis quickly attempted to switch sides by deleting the tweet and then writing a follow-up saying she "woke up singing a @LanaDelRey song! Such great haunting melodies! Regardless of my own taste LIVE she's a #FreshandYummy songwriter. Period." Nice try, Lewis.

But the entire universe is not aligned against one poor 22-year-old who flopped on her first nationally televised performance. A girl still has a few friends in this town, not the least of whom is Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe.

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'SNL' introduces the world to Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey
For what was surely most of this weekend's "Saturday Night Live" crowd, New York chanteuse Lana Del Rey arrived seemingly out of nowhere. Her debut album, "Born to Die," won't be released until Jan. 31, and her first single, "Video Games," has sold about 20,000 copies, according to recent Nielsen SoundScan stats published in Billboard. Even for a show that's prided itself on adventurous music bookings, Del Rey was a virtual unknown to the world outside the music blogosphere.

Signed to Interscope Records, Del Rey (real name: Lizzy Grant) apparently is something of a divisive figure. Spend a few minutes researching her, and one will discover a novel's worth of material debating the merits of an artist who's officially released all of four songs. Outlets as diverse as National Public Radio and The Awl have dedicated 1,000-plus word essays on the subject of Del Rey, picking apart her open-mike past and wondering whether her YouTube-driven attention is little more than some creative major label marketing. 

Watching Del Rey's performance of "Video Games" on Saturday night, however, it was hard not to wonder what all the pre-release fuss has been about. NPR went so far as to dub her controversial in a headline, yet if Del Rey's "Mad Men" look, old-school nightclub vibe and husky-voiced torch songs are controversial, the world, thankfully, has gone soft.

Dressed in an elegant evening grown that seemed more photogenic than mobile, Del Rey awkwardly shifted throughout the spare song, sounding and looking like an amateur Jessica Rabbit. Her voice is distinctive, no doubt, but Del Rey appeared to be trying to do too much with it, distractingly switching between highs and lows, moving between pouting and singing. Ultimately, she seemed more comfortable on the night's second number, "Blue Jeans," which carried a little more energy, even if it groaningly referenced James Dean. 

With some modern production flourishes, the handy shorthand for Del Rey has been the "gangsta Nancy Sinatra," although that phrase packs more life than anything Del Rey showcased on "SNL." Regardless of the era Del Rey references, her retro-meets-modern shtick simply felt clumsy. Even the idea of treating video games as something to be off-handedly dismissed is outdated, more pandering than it is clever.

Yet sometimes brevity is more telling. Perhaps one of the most informed pieces of criticism came via the Twitter feed of DFA Records, the label cofounded by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. "Lana Del Rey plays Saturday Night Live next week," the label's Twitter posted Jan. 7. "LCD Soundsystem tried for 6 years to play Saturday Night Live. Isn't 'too soon' ok advice?"

Sometimes there's more truth than humor to "SNL's" not-yet-ready-for-prime-time branding. Take a look at the performance below:

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