MUSIC: Everyone Loves (Or Hates) Lana Del Ray: Plus Jay Brannan, Azealia Banks

Seems like everyone has an intense opinion about Lana Del Rey right now. Fans say 25-year-old Lizzy Grant (Del Ray’s more conventional birth name) is the next Nancy Sinatra, while haters say she’s a “ho-hum” pop singer repackaged as an indie darling. And that disastrous SNL performance didn’t help her still-developing rep.

Strangely, I don’t have a strong view either way.

At the moment I’m digging on her in an utterly superficial way: She’s got a couple of catchy singles out that I’m pretty into. Honestly, I don’t even mind that “Video Games” has been stuck in my head for three weeks now.

Del Ray’s latest album, Born to Die, is out today but remixes of the second single, also called “Born to Die,”  have been popping up almost daily for a while now. First up, a personal fave of mine, Woodkid, takes a crack at the song—adding some characteristically epic orchestral flourishes without really messing around with the song’s original structure.
Working under the  moniker PDP 13, Blur frontman Damon Albarn gives us a “Born to Die” remix that doesn’t stray too far from the original either. Though his approach is significantly more minimal than the grand scale on which Woodkid operates.

The video for singer/songwriter Jay Brannan’s latest single—the second from his upcoming album, Rob Me Blind—is decidedly more cinematic than his usual homespun YouTube clips. Still, the song, “Beautifully,” is classic Brannan: romantic, sentimental, clever. It’s got a retro ’90s jangle to it that’s a refreshing—if nostalgic—change of pace from the relentless dance beats of contemporary pop.

Slightly more of-the-moment is Azealia Banks, who’s guest spot on Scissor Sisters’ latest single, “Shady Love,” has catapulted the 20-year-old lyricist into the spotlight. She’s since signed with Universal Music, performed live at Karl Lagerfeld’s house and recorded this little track, “NeedSumLuv.”

Keep an eye on her!