Lana Del Rey is looking back at some of the toughest moments in her early career.
When Del Rey made her debut with 2012’s Born to Die LP, the self-described “gangster Nancy Sinatra” singer became a hit with the blogosphere and a punching bag for her critics who called her “inauthentic.” Del Rey, who previously went by Lizzy Grant, had the media turn on her over her “image change,” supposed lip enhancements, and her panned Saturday Night Live performance in 2012.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Del Rey reflected on that tumultuous period of her career, saying, “I think in one week, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Post, and New York Magazine agreed that it was the most ridiculous act that had ever come out.”
“It was 100 percent authentic,” she said of her persona during the Born to Die era. “It’s just that where I was at the time was malleable in my own life—easy to, like, acquiesce. I kept rereading the idea of somebody who was feigning vulnerability. [But] perhaps what they saw was what was vulnerable.”
Del Rey spoke about the inauthentic accusations when she was profiled by Complex for a 2012 cover story. “If you consider the definition of authenticity, it’s saying something and actually doing it,” she said at the time. “I write my own songs. I made my own videos. I pick my producers. Nothing goes out without my permission. It’s all authentic.”
History has been kinder to Del Rey since then, with a new crop of pop stars like Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo citing Born to Die as an album that influenced them. Her 2019 LP Norman Fucking Rockwell earned a Grammy nomination for “Album of the Year” with the title track going up for “Song of the Year.” Her latest album, Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, was released earlier this year and also earned her another “Album of the Year” nod at the Grammys.
“I’m sure my intuition in my everyday life was still pretty strong. But with the career, I think it was like ‘Let’s just try and see if we can make this work’ instead of having it come to a brutal end,” she said. “It’s almost like [the critics] were wrong. That’s all. They just got it all wrong. That’s all.”
Not all the critics though! In 2012, Complex named Lana's Born To Die the fourth best album of the year.