Within one second of the public's first viewing of Baz Luhrmann's take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, it's clear music will be a centerpiece.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, saying "New York ... 1922 ..." over the Kanye–Jay–Frank Ocean track "No Church in the Wild." After first listen (and viewing), it didn't make any sense, and that hasn't really changed with subsequent viewings. The song, while quite effective as the backing for 2012's Safe House, seemed like an odd pick for our first impression of a film adapted from one of our most celebrated American novels.
Kate Winslet & Ned Rocknroll: Kate Winslet married Ned Rocknroll, a.k.a. Richard Branson's nephew with the incredibly dumb (self-chosen) name. "Call her Mrs. Rocknroll!" I will but I won't like it! The couple of a year wed before "a small group of friends and family." Perennial bachelor Leonardo DiCaprio "walked the bride down the aisle" and shattered/stoked the dreams of a trillion Titanic fangirls. Ned is "really attracted to her mind. She's mature, and he feels he can learn so much from her. It's sexy!" Is it just me or does that sound a little bit like shade? Oh, well, wishing all the best to the Rocknrolls.
The cinematic long-form music video has become as integral a part of an artist's maturation as double live LPs and concept albums. Considering that Lana Del Rey has an unreleased song called "Axl Rose Husband," it's not too surprising that "Ride," the latest of her increasingly ambitious music videos, tries to go full "November Rain," firing every secret romantic Gothic synapse in the human brain into a Wuthering Heights frenzy on the rain-soaked moors of Nevada's Valley of Fire.
You could take the casting of some very, uh, authentic bikers (all of whom are listed in the end credits; personal favorite: "Scott The Wall") as Del Rey's kiss-off to the neck-tatted male-model star from her first few videos who recently blasted her on Twitter by calling her a "speed fairy" and a "no-talent diva." The bikers, although hulking and grizzled, are depicted as kittens in thrall to their old lady, an all-American vision in shorts and Chuck Taylors played by Del Rey. The leathery Hells Angels–type bikers pet world-weary prostitute Lana sweetly and take care of her when they're not fondling her into a tilt or licking her neck. It plays out like Snow White and the Outlaw Motorcycle Club.
It's unclear if songwriters Bernie Wayne and Lee Morris were aware they were penning such a subvertible ditty when they wrote the textile-fixated 1950 ballad "Blue Velvet," which was first performed at a fashion show in Boston. On the surface, it's a somewhat bland, syrupy torch song, but plenty of other artists have picked up on its ineffably troubling undercurrents, and since Bobby Vinton's chart-topping 1963 recording, the song's more notable appearances have been in decidedly dark contexts — Kenneth Anger's 1963 experimental film Scorpio Rising, and of course, David Lynch's Blue Velvet in 1987.
Now, Lana Del Rey, whose '60s fetish is half of her actwell documented, and whose vaguely derivative Lynchian femme fatale persona is about 53rd on the list of Things Bloggers Can't Stand About Her, is throwing her particular brand of Ambien haze over the track. A predictably sleepwalky cover that will serve as the soundtrack for her H&M campaign this fall, was just released today, and the TV spots are already airing in Poland.
Here's 2 Chainz, telling Complex about his relationship with his new mentor Kanye West: "I’m not officially signed, paperwork-wise, to G.O.O.D. Music. But I have a great rapport with 'Ye. He called me before Watch the Throne came out. I’m an only child. I've got trust issues. So I don’t have a best friend, a brother, sister — nothing. Stuff was happening in my life that I couldn’t tell nobody. I didn’t have anybody in my life that I could tell, like, "'Ye just called me." Okay, reality show pitch: 2 Chainz's My New BFF?
Katie Holmes, Newly Strict Mom: Suri and Katie hit a pet store "to play with a 9-week-old Morkie (a mix of Maltese and Yorkie)." Despite Suri's "best pleading eyes and sad pout," they escaped without a new pet. Suri "was really upset. She will have to get used to not always getting her way." With an unlimited budget for clothes and toys, Suri "had become very demanding and bratty. "Katie saw that Suri was growing into a monster." Now she aims "to be more than just her daughter's best friend. She wants to really become a parent and start teaching her strong discipline." GOOD LUCK WITH ALL THAT. "Tom bought Suri whatever she wanted whenever she wanted it." As a Scientologist, Suri was allowed to have "ice cream for dinner and choose her own business." Wait, that sounds rad. "Tom just used to let her stay up all night watching Scientology kids videos!" Okay, that's less rad. Suri doesn't love the new parenting style. She may enjoy going to prep school, since it will allow her to genuinely socialize for the first time. "Suri's best friend is Katie. She's not used to sharing or playing with other kids." It's going fine. "It will be a process. Katie knows it will take time to undo the damage, but she sees this as a way to start over."
In November, Big Boi returns with Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, his first album since 2010’s often sublime Sir Lucious Left Foot, and by the sounds of the compressed funk of “Gossip,” dude hasn’t lost a mile on his fastball. By the way, I know Big’s way too down for the team to do this in public, but do you think maybe he ever holes up in his bathroom screaming stuff at the mirror like, "I’m making classics and people out here whining about no Three Stacks tracks! I can’t believe you don’t own my goddamn records!"
It's the end of an era. A culture-defining, couch-jumping, Matt Lauer–berating, Brooke Shields–bullying, publicist-sacking, psychiatry-denying, temporarily-career-enfeebling, tabloid-enriching, adorable-clonebaby-producing, Beckhams-befriending, hairy-fat-suit-wearing, Burj-Dubai-scaling, Def Leppard–singing era. The end of an era we all hoped would last a billion years, but which, in the end, spanned a mere five. But doesn't it seem like they've been together forever? You know what they say: Time flies when you're secretly recording your escape plans in a journal you hide inside a hollowed-out Build-A-Bear in the nursery.
Lana Del Rey featuring Azealia Banks, "Blue Jeans" (Smims&Belle Extended Remix)
We’re gonna kick off our latest installment of SOTW with this here unholy Lana-Azealia collaboration as a harbinger of what’s to come. I can’t tell you why, but this week is just packed with all kinds of material that certainly exists, whether or not it should. Just a fair warning before we go any further.
You thought this was a game for Lana Del Rey? You thought she’d be content just bombing through the scene, pouting her lips, dominating all music writer-y conversation for two months, launching a thousand think pieces about the value of authenticity, twirling around like a crazy person on SNL, and then releasing a middling, forgettable album? You thought it’d be over this easy? No way, kid. Lana Del Rey? Lana Del Rey is unstoppable.
Well, Kanye sure knows how to announce a return. After a period of relative calm post–Watch the Throne, ‘Ye crashed back into national consciousness this week by dropping this PETA- and Kris Humphries–baiting new single and then going on the greatest 24-hour date OF ALL TIME with his maybe new girlfriend Kim Kardashian. Hunger Games AND Sleep No More?!
"I think I am smart unless I am really, really in love, and then I am ridiculously stupid." — Taylor Swift in Vogue, February 2012
"Gangster Nancy Sinatra" Lana Del Rey served herself well by making her reference point Nancy and not, say, Nico. While Nancy Sinatra didn't have the same kind of vocal talent as father Frank, she had Jersey Girl charm and a try-hard, striving, posing cool, infused with kicky go-go dancerisms. Wedding Nancy's aesthetic (always considered fairly jokey) to a '90s sullen-girl trip-hop sound IS a smart idea, so smart, in fact, that Del Rey's detractors seem convinced it was not hers. But one good gimmick is no longer enough to sustain a career once launched. You're now expected to have billions. If Lady Gaga's refusal to light on any one specific trick for too long is infuriating, it is also oddly sensible. If you never stop changing, nobody can pinpoint the end of your "moment." Just as quickly as everyone was delighted by Lana's glam, white-trash, David Lynch aesthetic they decided that it was now played.
As you may have heard by now, Lana Del Rey played Saturday Night Live this weekend — and she did not exactly kill it. While running through her polarizing Internet hits Video Games and Blue Jeans, Del Rey seemed, frankly, terrified. (Watch the videos below. Beware second-hand awkwardness). The Internet took umbrage, with the worst of it coming from Brian Williams, obvs. The NBC news anchor e-mailed his pal, Gawker chief Nick Denton, to complain about the lack of Del Rey bashing over the weekend: "Do wish the main page featured more TV coverage. 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, for starters." Del Rey's debut album, Born to Die, is out in ten days. So is it too late to salvage this thing? Of course not! A few unsolicited pointers from us here at Grantland.
The Lana Del Rey buzzsaw rampages on! Mere months after busting out on your RSS feed, the pouty crooner has booked international TV appearances, a major label record deal -- and, now, a gig on Saturday Night Live. Yesterday, Del Rey was announced as the musical guest for the January 14 episode, the one hosted by Daniel Radcliffe. If you’re just tuning in: Del Rey broke out with her YouTube hit “Video Games,” then was quickly knocked for perceived inauthenticity when it turned out she used to perform by her birth name, Lizzie Grant, and also maybe used to not have such dramatically photogenic lips. (Representative Tweet: “Please tell me lana del rey is really a new natalie portman video directed by Lonely Island?”) Now we seem to be in the backlash-to-the-backlash stage, or possibly the pre-backlash-to-the-backlash. Or maybe everyone’s just run out of anger to spew? Either way, these days, with her debut Born To Die a month away, the internet seems to be a little less actively mad at Lana.