A Controversial Name Turns Into A Credited Course
by Sam Pawlowski
In September, New York University Clive Davis Institute of Record Music announced that they will be offering a course on Lana Del Rey, exploring her connection to social justice movements, including Black Lives Matter, Me Too and Times Up. This will be a two credited class, taught by journalist Kathy Iandoli and runs from October 20th to December 8th. In this course they will discuss and analyze what inspires Del Rey’s music, feminist symbols, and the feelings that she invokes within her listeners. Viewers had mixed reviews about this course due to Del Rey’s controversial career.
The course description from a Variety exclusive described, “the six-time Grammy nominated artist has introduced a sad core, melancholic, and baroque version of dream pop that in turn helped shift and reinvent the sound (and mood) of mainstream music beyond the 2010s. Through her arresting visuals and her thematic attention to mental health and tales of toxic, damaged love, Del Rey provided a new platform for artists of all genders to create “anti-pop” works of substance that could live in a mainstream once categorized as bubblegum.”
To some, Lana Del Rey has paved a new way to look at feminism throughout her music, although it remains extremely controversial. Many people have claimed that Lana Del Rey has glamorized abuse epically in songs. For instance, the title track of 2014’s Ultraviolence includes the lyric “He hit me but it felt like a kiss.”
Lana responded to these claims in 2020 publicly on her Instagram stating, “I’m fed up with female writers and alt singers saying I glamorize abuse, when in reality I’m just a glamorous person singing about the realities of what we are all now seeing are very prevalent emotionally abusive relationships all over the world”. Her statement was taken very poorly in the public eye and received a large amount of backlash.
Through all this controversy, Iandoli backs up the course by stating, “She has changed the parameters of baroque pop and now more specifically ‘sad girl pop’ through her music, by expanding the subject matter which at times is controversial and challenging. There are many pieces in this mosaic that have now come to know as Lana del Ray, and this course examines every detention of it”. In simpler terms, Iandoli is stating the course is interested because of the controversy that is Lana Del Reys music, by unpacking and discussing her input in the feminist movement, and social justice movements all together, students will be able to better understand her influence in the music industry.