Back in July, Lana Del Rey was photographed in Florence, Alabama apparently working a shift at a Waffle House. She had a uniform shirt and name tag and was behind the counter pouring a drink for someone. It went super viral. Virtually everyone I know (including all my exes!) got in touch to ask me what Lana was doing working at a Waffle House. At the time I figured she was just having fun–it didn’t seem like a stunt that was calculated for attention. (If it had, it would have been on her re-instated Instagram @honeymoon.) It turns out I was essentially right. Lana is on the cover of the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter and she was asked about the Waffle House thing. She says the staff gave her and her brother Charlie uniform shirts because they were spending a lot of time at Waffle House while visiting family nearby. Then Lana got someone a Coke, and when she was behind the counter, the manager of the Waffle House took some photos and video. In the interview with THR she talks (as ever!) about her critics but she seems like she’s in a better place now with all of that. She also credits Jack Antonoff’s production style as the reason why her 2019 masterpiece Norman F–king Rockwell! was so well-received. And she explains why she hasn’t performed on television (besides once on Stephen Colbert’s show) since her infamous SNL fiasco in 2012.
On the Waffle House thing going viral: I wish my album had gone as viral. I woke up to, like, 10,000 texts the next morning — some from folks I had not heard from for 10 years. “Saw your picture at the Waffle House!” (Laughing.) I was like, “Did you hear the new album?”
Lana admits that the criticism she’s faced gave her the opportunity to grow: I also feel, maybe spiritually, there was something I needed to learn from having people be so adamantly and vocally against [my music]. There was room for me to look at why. It’s possible there are some things I might not have delved into [in my music] had I not heard the same critical throughline over and over and over again. Possibly, there was a bigger-picture reason for that. I wish it had not lasted for 10 years. That would’ve been helpful. But we’re in a good place now.
On being embraced by critics after the release of NFR: I give credit to Jack Antonoff. I think that his production style has such an intelligence to it that vocals have a better chance of being read correctly. There’s a little more room to process it. It was that record [Norman F–king Rockwell!] where all of a sudden things were really different.
Late night TV has never felt like the right promotional strategy for Lana: Maybe that’s something else I’ll grow into more, like touring. And don’t get me wrong. I toured for nine years of my life. It was nonstop. It was tough. But you know in your heart when it’s the right time. And it’s never been the right time. Maybe now, even if I didn’t feel confident, I would do it anyway. But there was a reason not to feel confident.
How she feels about Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo calling her an inspiration: Billie and Olivia are such good people, it’s f–king awesome. I love them and their music. It’s not like you have to be nice to be good [in music]. But, if you happen to be nice and a great singer, it makes me happy for the culture. I always had girls telling me [things like] that. Maybe not the critics or anybody else — but singers I knew, no matter how big or small, would write me letters. I always felt like the older sister to pretty much everyone I ever met.
Throughout the article, the interviewer keeps leading Lana back to discussion of early criticism and how she was profiled when she first became famous. I wish journalists would stop dwelling on that, but it seems to come up every time she’s interviewed. The early criticism has become the framework for her entire career. While Lana has had her controversies in recent years (and she deserved to be criticized for them), her work as a singer/songwriter has been embraced and recognized. Even Pitchfork has re-evaluated their reviews of her first album and acknowledged that they were unfair to her in 2012. So we are no longer living in a world where Lana’s getting piled on by the press. It also isn’t that interesting. As for Jack Antonoff’s production style being responsible for NFR‘s success, I disagree. I think his work with Lana sounds really different from most of his other stuff, including his work with Taylor Swift. Lana got him to tamp down on his worst impulses. I feel like Jack is always trying to stuff as many robot noises, drum machines, and weird effects into the music as possible but with Lana he created this tasteful Laurel Canyon-esque sound.
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