Comment / Features

The Tux, GQ and Lana Del Rey: Female Sexuality and the Music Business

While GQ isn’t usually my go to magazine when I need to relax with a cup of chai tea and some carrot cake the magazine for the middle aged bore has popped into our conscience after a controversial cover featured the Queen of controversy Lana Del Rey. The issue has gotten a lot bloggers panties in a right twist so I thought I’d weigh in late, as always, with a couple of not that well thought out opinions. It’s like we’re down the pub discussing this shit in real life after a couple of G&Ts and copious handfuls of nuts.

As you can see above GQ had a collection of covers for its ‘Man of the Year’ issue and while Tinie Tempah, James Corden, Robbie Williams and John Slattery are all dressed in suits like the fine gentlemen they are, or GQ want us to think they are, Lana Del Rey is starkers draped in diamonds and posing like she’s on the cover of a vintage porno.

Obviously this isn’t the first time a woman’s posed naked on the front of  a magazine cover, album or poster but for one reason or another Lana has caught the attention of the internet. The whole saga is reminiscent of PJ Harvey’s, seemingly innocent now, topless cover shoot for NME. The New Statesman asked us to spot the odd one out and the NME questioned whether she can still be taken seriously as a musician. Well, the straight answer is probably not but I would throw out another question. Was she ever taken seriously before?

Lana has always walked the tricky line between hipster and mainstream pop music and has been both hailed and derided for it. Even before she took her clothes off people were questioning her background, why she changed her image and even that she might be ‘too pretty’ to be a musician. Lana has never been taken seriously, even she must know that. Some blogs have even made taking the piss out of Lana an artform.

Some feminists have also derided Lana specifically rather than GQ for bringing down other women. I never know what I think of this idea of attacking the individual rather than the whole idea. Lana is a beautiful woman and has probably been told that for a long time. As a result her image and, more specifically, her sexuality has become as much a part of her art as her music. At times she has made herself into a work of art perfectly but she constantly walks the fine line between looking like a muse for a 60s photographer and a well paid lady of the night. I’m not sure where that change comes in, maybe its the number of flowers she always has in her hair. This nude magazine cover is an extension of her image, not to say that either she or female musicians as a whole should get their knockers out for their art but I feel that’s where she was going with the cover.

Essentially it’s hard to gauge whether this was a bad move on Lana’s part but it certainly can’t make her get taken any less seriously than she  has been before. I personally think Lana has a lot to offer and although Born To Die was a bit hit and miss I think she has the potential to be an amazing popstar akin to PJ Harvey or Tori Amos. People just have to see past her knockers first.

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