[Hype Hype Hooray] The Online Hype Machine Pushed Lana Del Rey Over a Cliff

Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.

“Poor Lana Del Rey” read The Hollywood Gossip on Sunday. “It possibly couldn’t have gone worse,” said The Huffington Post. Just what offense could Lana Del Rey, controversial internet singing sensation, have committed to warrant such a dramatic response? One of the worst offenses ever–she bombed on Saturday Night Live.

That’s right, the very same Saturday Night Live that everybody pretends to be too cool to watch. People like to be all “Bobby Moynihan who?” but when somebody botches the music section they just happen to catch it. “Oh, I saw the whole thing. I just happened to be flipping by,” they tell you.

What they caught this past Saturday was a performance by Lana Del Rey, known across the internet for one-off pop tunes like “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” that sound a lot like songs sung by a less-badass Amy Winehouse. She sang both those songs at SNL last weekend and geez, she really bombed it.

Del Rey’s performance was all shifty and nervous and full of mumbling, rushed lyrics. Even NBC anchor Brian Williams piled on in an email to Gawker editer Nick Denton:

“Brooklyn hipster 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…”

Alas, Williams is right. Del Rey DID have an exceptionally bad outing and she is the only SNL musical guest to get on the show without a full-length release under her belt since 1998’s Natalie Imbruglia took the stage. A lot of Twitter critics suggested she might not be talented enough for the big times and is a disappointing result of arrogant internet hype.

But did the internet lead the people astray? Or did it lead Del Rey astray?

Ever since the singer has popped up online, blogs and online music fans have been going nuts for her music. Pitchfork is practically doing all the promotion she needs, hyping everything from tours to singles to video of that SNL performance (without commentary, of course). Other blogs and entertainment sites have had a go at Del Rey too, some praising her songs and other criticizing her corporate-influenced past.

All the hype has led Del Rey to put her career on the fast track; she embarked on an international tour at the end of 2011, is releasing her debut album, Born 2 Die, on Interscope at the end of January, and has already signed a modeling contract (all that news and more can be found at Pitchfork!).

Suddenly, she found herself on SNL, staring at a bunch of crane-driven TV cameras, performing in front of millions of scrutinizing eyeballs. Try and tell me you wouldn’t be nervous. Del Rey certainly was; she said as much before the show. But it’s not necessarily her fault she’s in this SNL mess now (although she didn’t have to agree to appear if didn’t feel up to it).

No, a lot of the blame should go to (and I hate to do this, but what are you gonna do?) the online hype machine (note: not the online Hype Machine). Everybody got so anxious about this rising star that seemed to come out of nowhere. Del Rey wasn’t born in the studio or record label boardroom, she was born in the depths of YouTube and WordPress, and thus belonged to the people of the internet.

Many of those outside the online bubble scoffed at the singer, probably because they missed out on telling all their friends about her first. Others waited, with baited breath, to hear the singer live on the national stage to pass judgment. And man, they must have been disappointed. But these critics made a mistake–they put all the criticisms on Del Rey.

Sure, she blew it. She bombed. She ate it. It sucked. But what can you expect from an artist who has only spent a matter of months in the spotlight, many of them spent taking even more criticisms for her past career? I don’t like biting the hand that feeds me, but I have a hard time believing that had the hype machine not blown up Del Rey so fast, she wouldn’t have become “that singer who flubbed it on SNL.”

But will blogs like Pitchfork keep up the hype? In the words of fellow female flop Sarah Palin: “You betcha.”

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