“Kanye West is blonde and gone.” On how Lana Del Rey blissfully eviscerated the hipster ideal.
“The Greatest” is 2019’s best song by a large margin.
A conversation about 2019’s “Best Song” could be had by rehashing — for yet another generation since Blazing Saddles’ 1974 cinematic release — how much America loves to lampoon its history by smiling in approval when black people wear cowboy clothes. Or, we could get down to the business of dealing with the trauma of morose modern malaise via Lana Del Rey. On her latest album Norman Fucking Rockwell, her euphoric, yearning ballad “The Greatest” is a bittersweet remembrance of cool things of the near past. Moreover, in Ms. Del Rey being wholly emblematic — in style and presentation — of the classic and beautiful American ideal, when she says that she “[misses] rock and roll” and that “Kanye West is blonde and gone,” it’s a damning moment of awareness regarding where we are now as a country, and to the fact that the first four years of the Obama era could’ve been the best times America ever had.
It’s important to note that there’s an undertone of something rather cannibalistic about a certain sub-set of idealizing hipsters that is of particular trouble, here. Lana Del Rey was never and will never be emblematic of the working class roots of the areas like Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Laurel Canyon that she inhabits and beatifies. That’s troublesome in the sense that there’s something of a “scorched earth” notion that underlies a critical listen to the song. When people who are not culturally of a place’s history inject their heritage into a place’s present, it creates a future oftentimes rife with the pain needed to mitigate for frustrating social in-congruence.
The key to the first four years of the Obama age is that the digital age allowed for a liberal-minded Americans to create a niche, interconnected coterie that could exist within, but without traditional boundaries set by time, space, and place. Intriguingly, what happened when this cadre would touch down in real-time, their collective intellect and ability to overwhelm economics with globalism and good tidings won out. However, absolute power — for a set of people for whom access to this social-made-physical capital had never before happened in such widespread amounts —…