Lana Del Rey, pop, and video games: treading the uncanny valley.

What has bloggers abuzz about the internet phenomena Lana Del Rey nowadays isn’t so much her downbeat pop songs such as Video Games, but her real life story––or lack thereof. The internet has been up in arms at how she once took a far less successful stab at fame as Lizzy Grant, an entirely different persona.

The point to take away is this: in lieu of a pop artist having a captivating past, the story of her prefabricated lives may sell just as many records.

In a write up for The Village Voice, Tom Ewing compared our fascination with the artificiality of pop to something incredibly familiar to videogames: the uncanny valley.

“Video Games” sounds classicist at first, “retro” in a vague way. But the closer it gets, the more obvious its theatrics become, even before you take Del Rey’s image-building into account. It’s uncanny valley pop about an uncanny valley love affair-almost convincing, but just wrong enough to chill and fascinate.

The uncanny valley is a common sticking point among critics about “realistic” looking games. Characters often look like plastic versions of Lana Del Rey,, and Paul McCartney, who joked at E3 about The Beatles: Rock Band, saying that he looked like an android in the game.

Then again, pop looks fairly uncanny itself, with its romanticized ideals of starving artist rock stars and rappers who hustle, thug, and, um, work out with personal trainers for 3 hours a day so that they can have an immaculate set of pecs.

Inauthenticity comes with the territory. I’d say it is a defining characteristic of pop. While we’re at it, we might as well welcome androids.

-Jason Johnson

[Village Voice]