Was SNL's Defense of Lana Del Rey Both Too Strong and Too Weak?

Saturday Night Live this weekend issued its response to those who derided recent musical guest Lana Del Rey as, amongst other things, the all-time “worst” performer in the 37-year-old sketch show’s history. But did SNL come off as overly defensive in doing so?

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In a Weekend Update segment featuring Kristen Wiig as Del Rey, SNL did its own (small) amount of spoofing the songstress — for example, she explained that people find her “stiff, distant and weird” because she is, well, “stiff, distant and weird.”  But the bit aimed most of its the passive-aggressive barbs at critics who engaged in a pile-on after Del Rey’s Jan. 14 performance of “Blue Jeans”/”Video Games.”

For starters, Wiig-as-Rey surmised that based on the public’s volatile reaction, “I must have clubbed a baby seal while singing the Taliban national anthem.” Moving to the topic of having changed her name from Lizzy Grant (under which she performed years ago to zero fanfare), the faux Rey sarcastically apologized, noting, “No serious musician would ever change their name — except for maybe Sting, Cher, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, everyone else in hip-hop and, of course, Bob Dylan.”

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But perhaps SNL‘s most dubious defense of Del Rey’s widely panned appearance came when Wiig’s version admitted that she “failed to meet the high bar” set by past Studio 8H guests as “Bubba Sparxxx (‘Back in the Mud’), The Baha Men (‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’) and Shaggy (‘It Wasn’t Me’).”

To lift from a recurring Weekend Update sketch: Really, SNL? That’s what you’re going with? “Hey, we’ve booked worse musical guests!”?

Watch SNL‘s “defense” of Del Rey below and/or one of her dissed performances, and tell us if you think someone doth protest too much.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Captain says:

    I thought it was a smart riff. It was good of them to stand by her when she was really ripped to shreds over nothing. She’s weird but they’ve had worse.

    • Tarc says:

      Agreed. I didn’t see the second song, but the first one, Video Games, was virtually identical to what she did on Jool Holland, where it was well received, and on the record, which is doing well and was featured on Grey’s Anatomy. *shrugs* I thought it was just fine; her style is a little odd, but it works.

      • tarc says:

        After rewatching the SNL performance, I have to correct myslef slightly: her performance wasn’t as good as the Jools Holland live version. Seeing that she CAN give a near record quality performance of the song, the only real conclusion was a bit of an off night.

        • John says:

          The Blue Jeans performance was a lot worse than Video Games, but she did Video Games on Letterman the other night and it was good so she must’ve just been nervous.

  2. TV Gord says:

    This is an example of a TV show paying too much attention to “crazy internet people” (kudos to Lauren Graham for coining that phrase).
    Although I am clearly one of those CIP, I am always railing against any influence they (we) may have on the creative process. Del Ray is the victim of a vocal majority who don’t like her. She’s the new Black (Rebecca).
    I have my opinions on TV, but I hope none of my rants ever change SNL from changing who they book, or the producers of TV shows from changing the direction they plan to take a show. We, the viewers, have neither earned nor deserve the kind of power that would make creators change the vision they have for the shows they oversee.
    Did I like Lana’s performance? No. Should my personal preference keep her off the air, even though someone in Des Moines, Iowa, or Little Rock, Arkansas, or Fresno, California, may find something in her performance that moves them? Of course not. If you don’t enjoy something that lasts five or six minutes, shut the hell up and play computer solitaire until something you enjoy more comes on.
    I can think of dozens of things I’ve seen on TV that I’ve loved and everyone else I know hated. This growing shriek of Crazy Internet People are pandering to the lowest common denominator, and frankly, I think they are a blight on the 21st century.

  3. raftrap says:

    I thought their defense was both too great and too awesome, plus we got the chance to see a really great Kristen Wiig impersonation (which I hope to see again soon by the way).

  4. Leodyn says:

    I was hoping they would mention Ashlee Simpson’s failed lyp-synching

  5. Alyssa says:

    What about the whole Ashlee Simpson lip sync disaster? That was the worst musical guest that I’ve seen.

  6. Shayna says:

    Your Lauren Graham reference just made my day.

  7. Carly says:

    I didn’t get the Crazy Internet People hate in the first place. I’m not a fan but SNL has had some really awful musical appearances in the past couple of decades.

  8. Jake says:

    If you call that singing. But she did at least perform her songs live

  9. Erik says:

    I felt like it was pretty heavy-handed and I was being lectured to. Wiig was great, but it was too much.
    And I say this as someone who was neutral on the whole thing.

    • Mer says:

      my thoughts exactly, erik. LDR isn’t musically my cup of tea, but she’s also not the anti-christ. it seemed hypocritical of a show that specializes in making fun of other people (sometimes brutally) to scold their viewers for having negative opinions. my hunch is snl included this little riff to keep the “scandal” alive in the hopes of boosting their ratings.

      • John says:

        It’s a bit different to make fun of someone for being self-absorbed and vacuous (the Kardashians), or hypocritical and bigoted (Newt Gringrich) than making fun of someone for being nervous and “weird”

  10. John says:

    No, the argument was that she didn’t deserve to be on SNL because she was new and inexperienced and they were pointing out that this is SNL, where the Baha men and Bubba Sparxxx have performed, it’s not some high-brow distinguished venue, they book whoever is “hot” at the moment.
    I think that they all probably really liked her when she was there. She’s known to be very sweet. And they probably felt bad for her, so they wanted to defend her. Good for them. I thought it was nice.

  11. Stephanie says:

    I for myself think that Lana Del Rey’s performance on SNL was good. It was not her best, not her worst. And she was definitely not the worst musical guest in the history of SNL.
    Best line of the skit : « In this age of dangerous school bullying, you have set an important message : if you think someone is weird, you should criticize them as much as possible. » Yeah, totally.

    • cuius says:

      “not her worst.” – Wow, can we be warned when it gets worse than that.
      Still she can take consolation that she’s officially not the worst, but probably only in the worst 10 performances in 37 years.

    • maggie says:

      I found that line offensive. People weren’t bullying Lana Del Ray, they were criticizing her performance. It was never about HER being “weird” but about her PERFORMANCE. To equate commentary about her performance with kids being bullied in school is ridiculous.

  12. Roy_Munson says:

    The guy who wrote this article is a twit. I don’t even know who this girl is but good for SNL. That bit was spot-on.
    Oh, and Bono & The Edge aren’t their real names, either

  13. mimi says:

    Her performance that night was NOT good at all. As a fan of hers before that performance, I was highly disappointed when she started “singing”. Then some odd weeks latter, she did another live performance where she sounded much better. I really think people are over it now, and SNL being hypocritical about people criticizing her just brought it up over again.

  14. c-mo says:

    When I closed my eyes, I could tolerate her Letterman performance but she has absolutely no stage presence. Good thing daddy’s got money so she didn’t have to go the Idol-route, she wouldn’t even make it to Hollywood.

  15. godzilla's_foil says:

    Screw all this about changing the name. Changing her whole identity in the name of commercialism, pure and simple, now that’s a problem. And you know what? That’s not even the real problem here, and maybe SNL shouldn’t even have addressed this, cause, in the end, the point is completely other. The point is, her performance sucked. Combined with the overhype she’s been receiving, it’s somewhat obvious she deserves the universal pandering she got after all. She’s the glorified flipper burger being called a French chef, whatever her name is or comes to be. On a second moment, SNL’s defense should have been more a commentary than a defense. Why do they feel the need to defend the bad decisions they make, instead of just living with them? By far, it wasn’t the worst performance ever on SNL (the lip-syncing girl comes to mind, a.o.), it was just bad. They should live with that and just call the next bad one, as they surely will. The skit was pathetic in both idea and execution. Most of all, it was too obvious, very misguided and simply not funny, which is, of course, the thing that should matter the most in a comedy show.

  16. godzilla's_foil says:

    *burger flipper

  17. patriots4dwin says:

    Her performance was not any worse than the performance of Florence and the Machines. Florence seriously sucked for a seasoned veteran. We’ve seen far more experienced singers/bands fail miserably on the SNL stage. I still don’t get why.
    And it was classy of SNL to defend her. Plus the sketch was really well written. Bravo

  18. Tammy says:

    Hello, two words … Ashley Simpson!

  19. Dot says:

    Snl continues to disappoint me that’s why I stoped watching it was me favorite show.

  20. Megan says:

    People really need to get over this. And I think SNL was right on the mark. Most peoples criticisms of Lana Del Rey are ridiculous and focus more on her father, her looks (including her lips liek OMG they’re fake!!!1!), and her name, than what talent she does or does not have.

    • tripoli says:

      If she was truly that talented she wouldn’t have had to change her name, looks, and whole persona to get some attenion. Pretty sure her talent was the same when she went by Lizzy Grant and had a movable upper lip. She’s average at best, and had no business being on SNL at this stage in her career.

      • tarc says:

        Nonsense. Ever heard of this little thing calle ‘show biz’? And the name thing? Talk to madonna, Cher, Elton John, etc.

  21. Mighty Mike says:

    Hey I thought she sucked…but at least she sang! Remember Ashley Simpson?
    I thought SNL did a great job with the skit. It mocked her a bit and defended her a bit. Genius.

  22. Brigette says:

    It was weird that SNL did a topical spoof on something that happened on…SNL. I wasn’t sure why they were defending her and making fun of her at the same time. And it also seemed sort of self-important. It was just odd.

  23. maggie says:

    Part of the defense of Lana Del Rey was good: changing your name doesn’t mean you’re selling out. And it may be hyperbole to say she was the worst musical performer in SNL history (but that doesn’t mean she was good.)
    The part of their defense of Lana Del Ray that I found offensive was to compare people disliking her performance to kids being bullied. Making a kid’s life a nightmare by bullying cannot be compared to a singer’s performance being critiqued by the audience. Del Ray is performing in public, and they are going to have opinions on her performances. She can either ignore them and continue to do things her way, or she can take any legit criticism and learn from it. But to liken opinions on her performance to bullying isn’t accurate or justifiable.

  24. Rob says:

    I was a bit disappointed when I saw her performance on SNL, but I have heard her before performing live and so I knew she could do way better. I agree that she was probably very nervous and I can’t get it that some people freak out like she’s ruined SNL forever. Everybody can have a bad day and boy, she knows it! No need to bash on her while she’s down, though. Wiig as Del Rey trying to explain things was a nice idea and a classic SNL skit.
    I don’t care if people understand that she still has a great voice.

  25. John Grose says:

    I thought it was clever and apt. – John