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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Weekly Music Spotlight: Lana Del Rey headlines first night of Coachella, reigniting the singer’s critical acclaim

Lana Del Rey’s headlining performance at Coachella this past Friday demonstrates the singer’s affinity for glamourized aesthetics and serves as her attempt to reinvent her image.
Lana Del Rey performing at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival via/ Coachella Live Stream on Youtube
Lana Del Rey performing at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival via/ Coachella Live Stream on Youtube

Last Friday, musician Lana Del Rey headlined her first week of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, performing hits like Summertime Sadness and A&W, even featuring a duet with Billie Eilish. 

Coachella, an annual two-week-long festival in Indio, California, is known as the world’s largest music festival, garnering over 125,000 fans each weekend. The music festival’s lineup is known for its diversity across all genres, including rap, pop, folk, and electronic.

Each weekend of the festival has the same lineup; each headliner performs each day of the weekend and the lineup repeats the following week.

Del Rey first performed at the music festival 10 years ago and is headlining it this year, marking an attempt to redeem herself from past critical judgments.

Del Rey rose to fame following the music video’s release for the song “Video Games” from her debut album, “Born to Die.” The music video for the track featured short clips from movies and other forms of pop culture spanning from the 1950s to the present day. 

Video Games’ release marked Del Rey’s entrance into the world of aesthetics as many critics claimed the singer’s work to be nostalgic of various vintage aesthetics. The singer’s persona paved the way for the resurrection of the Americana aesthetic that took hold of multiple social media platforms at the time, including Tumblr and Instagram. 

Del Rey’s Controversy

In 2012, following her rise to fame, Del Rey appeared on Saturday Night Live (SNL), a popular music and weekly live comedy show. However, her performance on the show was met with much critical disapproval, with many even stating it ended her career.

Del Rey went on to release seven albums, all met with critical praise and was recently given the Visionary award at Billboard’s Women in Music celebration. Del Rey’s 2023 album, “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard” has also been met with critical acclaim, nominated for five Grammys at the awards 66th event. None of the nominations, however, led to a win.

Shortly after the ceremony, a ballot from one of the voters in charge of deciding winners at the awards was leaked on the popular gossip site Gold Derby, stating that one of the reasons the voter did not vote for Del Rey was because of that very SNL performance more than a decade ago. The anonymous voter said, “I haven’t taken Lana Del Rey seriously as an artist since her infamous SNL performance and never will.”

Although mostly silent about the SNL incident and the ceremony itself, Del Rey chose to promote her Coachella performance by mocking the reaction to the performance, putting up a billboard near the festival entrance early last week. 

“Has Anyone Else Died For You? Lana Del Rey SNL January 14, 2012,” the board reads, referring to the reaction held by critics to the incident. Many fans have taken to platforms such as X, formerly Twitter, to share their conspiracies regarding what the billboard could mean, many declaring it a rebirth.

Del Rey’s Coachella Performance

Del Rey began her set by entering through the festival’s crowd, followed by a motorcade, playing her unreleased song “Jealous Girl” and waving to the crowd. Organizing the motorcade and driving the motorcycle Del Rey rode on, was Hollywood stunt coordinator Wally Crowder, who has worked on movies such as Fast and Furious 7 and Captain America: Civil War.

The singer’s performance featured various artists, including Billie Eilish, who performed her track “Ocean Eyes” alongside Del Rey and a rendition of “Video Games.” Eilish has stated that one of her main inspirations is Del Rey. Following the duet, Eilish says, “This is the reason for half of you b****** existence, including mine.”

A hologram replaced Del Rey during the song “Hope is a Dangerous Thing For a Woman Like Me to Have – But I Have It” from her 2019 album “Norman F***ing Rockwell.” 

Jack Antonoff, the singer’s producer and frequent collaborator, played the piano as the song played in the background. Jon Batiste, featured on the track “Candy Necklaces,” came out to play an acoustic rendition of the song.

The last song the singer performed was one of her most well-received songs, “Young and Beautiful,” from the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann’s cinematic adaptation of “The Great Gatsby.” 

Del Rey concluded the festival’s first night with a band rendition of “It’s Just a Burning Memory,” a jazz song by the caretaker. Instrumentalists stood atop various white stands, reminiscent of the extravagant bands that characterize the old Hollywood aesthetic, allowing the singer to flourish in the aesthetics that characterize her persona.

With fireworks in the background, Del Rey exited the music festival in the same motorcade that brought her to it, concluding not only the first night of Coachella but also demonstrating that after all the critical judgments, she is still at the height of her career.

The singer is set to release her next studio album in September, and similarly to a lot of other popular artists, is venturing into the country genre with “Lasso.”

Del Rey, alongside other headliners such as Doja Cat and Tyler the Creator, will retake the stages  next weekend. All performances from the music festival will be live-streamed on YouTube

Gabriela Quintero is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information on this story or others, contact her at [email protected].

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