Lana Del Rey hated NPR’s album review. But critic Ann Powers stands her ground
Lana Del Rey has enjoyed a healthy relationship with most music critics since last week’s release of her latest album, “Norman F— Rockwell,” which many hailed unconditionally as her most sophisticated work yet.
Except NPR writer (and former L.A. Times critic) Ann Powers, whose in-depth review sparked outrage from the beloved pop star and her fans on social media.
Del Rey did not mince words on Twitter Wednesday night when she replied to Powers’ post sharing her provocative article, which called Del Rey’s lyrics “uncooked” in comparison to those of artists such as Joni Mitchell and analyzed Del Rey’s reliance on a “persona as a bad girl to whom bad things are done.”
“Here’s a little sidenote on your piece,” the “Venice Bitch” singer wrote. “I don’t even relate to one observation you made about the music. There’s nothing uncooked about me. To write about me is nothing like it is to be with me. Never had a persona. Never needed one. Never will.”
“So don’t call yourself a fan like you did in the article and don’t count your editor one either,” Del Rey added in another tweet. “I may never have made bold political or cultural statements before — because my gift is the warmth I live my life with and the self reflection I share generously.”
In a statement to The Times Thursday, Powers defended her thoughts on the album and said she felt no ill will toward Del Rey, wishing her continued success.
“It is a critic’s responsibility to be thoughtful and honest to herself in responding to artists’ work, and an artist’s prerogative to disagree with that response,” Powers said. “I respect Lana Del Rey and hope that her music continues to receive the passionate appreciation it has received for years.”
Powers’ deep dive lauded the album as containing “Del Rey’s most artfully constructed narratives, extending the arc of apparent self-realization also evident in widely framed narratives that stood out on her previous album.” But among the praise, Powers also noted the music’s “needy,” “disempowered,” “self-sabotaging” and “unwoke” tones.
A funny thing happened when Lana Del Rey fans attacked critic Ann Powers; critics slapped back.
Revered as a pioneering critic, Powers has weathered plenty of controversy sparked by her scintillating criticism, particularly during her stint at The Times. The tweet sharing her Del Rey analysis was flooded with support from fellow critics, along with dismissive notes from Del Rey’s admirers. Critic Jessica Hopper noted Powers’ long history of championing female artists and leading the charge to take their work seriously.
Powers responded to the brewing backlash in a follow-up post Thursday morning, writing: “I really appreciate all the support today. I still think NFR is a deeply compelling, crucial album and hope everyone spends time listening to it (and goes back to Ultraviolence and Lust For Life too).”
Your essential guide to the arts in L.A.
Get Carolina A. Miranda's weekly newsletter for what's happening, plus openings, critics' picks and more.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.