Grammy award-nominated singer Lana Del Rey has once again caused a stir, this time for choosing to preemptively respond to possible backlash.
To give this story context: Lana Del Rey (born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant) recently debuted the tracklist and cover art for her upcoming album ‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club’. It’s the seventh studio album by the artists, with the single “Let Me Love You Like a Woman” released back in October last year as a ‘taste’ for what the album will sound like. Del Rey has previously described the album as “folky”, “beautiful”, and “super different from ‘Norman F****** Rockwell’ (her last album released in 2019)”. Now, with the release of the album cover, we see Del Rey laughing as she is surrounded by a group of 10 friends at a table. The image is in black and white.
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Apparently, this sparked a little bit of fuss as people made assumptions that Del Rey had left out people of colour (POC) from her cover art. Nevertheless, the singer felt that she needed to handle the situation before if got out of hand by commenting on the image of the cover art.
“As it happens when it comes to my amazing friends and this cover, yes, there are people of color on this record’s picture and that’s all I’ll say about that.”
But, as it turns out, that’s all she had to say. She went on to name a few of her friends and their ethnicities as she defended the image.
” In 11 years working I have always been extremely inclusive without even trying to. My best friends are rappers [and] my boyfriends have been rappers. My dearest friends have been from all over the place, so before you make comments again about a WOC/POC issue, I’m not the one storming the capital, I’m literally changing the world by putting my life and thoughts and love out there on the table 24 seven. Respect it.”
Unfortunately, her attempt at mitigating criticism merely sparked more anger towards the 35-year old, as people took issue with her defence being built around the “I have a Black/POC friend” card as well as apparently correlation of “rappers” with people of colour.
Not Lana using “rappers” as synonymous with POC…..
— Caroline Frost (@cfrost49) January 10, 2021
Not lana del rey pulling the ‘i have a black friend card’ lord have mercy pic.twitter.com/boRQhCjXW9
— Jay? (@jaylynn_ayanna_) January 11, 2021
This follows immense backlash levelled at the singer back in May, after she tried to defended her lyrics against criticism that they were glorifying abuse. Regrettably, her defence included the names of some very famous female POC singers like Beyoncé, Minaj, Cardi B, Kehlani, Grande, Cabello, and Doja Cat. She implied that these women didn’t get the same hate for making music about their sexuality, failed relationships and so on. If you’ve been on the internet, you’d know how untrue this statement is. As a result, people labelled the ‘Summertime Sadness’ singer tone-deaf and insensitive.
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Of course, with this having happened, it makes sense that Del Rey was on in defensive mode from the get to. As she explained on an interview with BBC Radio 1, she had anticipated that people would misunderstand her cover art as non-inclusive and thus, was ready with a retort.
“Before I even put the album cover up, I knew what people were gonna say. So when they actually started saying things, I responded and I just said, ‘I’ve got a lot of issues, but inclusivity just ain’t one of them.’ It just isn’t. […] And I’m mentioning all this, like, to people who are listening because people really wanted even more people of colour on my album cover. Which you know is, to a point, a photo just sometimes is what it is.”
As for if the women of colour that were in the picture were in fact people she knew, Lana Del Rey confirmed that they were her “longest-term, nicest friends.”
“I think back to all my songs and videos and starting with more of a hip-hop sound… I mean, I just don’t feel like that’s my issue. I feel like there have been certain things that people have touched on that have made me be like,’OK, maybe I have to look at that,’ but this is not one of them. I wasn’t being preemptive, I was definitely responding, but […] I just feel like if that’s really what people are gonna say, I have an answer for them, which is that if you look closer, you will see people of colour. It’s a black-and-white image, so zoom in, you know? It’s just weird.”
The music video for ‘Chemtrails is now out and you can indeed catch a glimpse of the diversity in the group (as the video is not all in black and white).
The album is set to drop on the 19th of March.
*Cover image credit: Instagram / @lanadelrey