Photo illustration by John Hendrickson
While Rey (er, Del Rey? Devil Ray? Del Boca Vista?) has reached critical mass in the blogosphere and beyond, Etten’s hype is just beginning. Both women are ostensibly chasing the same goal: To create arrestingly gloomy, dour, lonesome, nasally ballads with a slight indie tinge. Etten’s “Tramp” is a walk-off home run in this regard; Rey has merely made it to first base on a dropped third strike.
The similarities — and subtle differences — between the two acts recall the Britney/Christina battles of the late ’90s. However, instead of nuzzling up to Carson Daly for “TRL” airtime, the two singers are vying for hipster approval far and wide.
Etten is the real deal, Rey is not. But at the end of the day, real talent, quality and credibility run a distant second to mere entrance into the cultural lexicon (see: “Tebow”). In this respect, Etten has a long way to go.
Below is a breakdown of the two artists, for no particular reason besides a slow news day:
Number of words in name
Number of stage names
Preferred vocal inflection
LDR: Nasal whispered strain
SVE: Nasal, withered, wistful strain
LDR: “Saturday Night Live,” “Letterman”
SVE: “Jimmy Fallon”
LDR: 600,000 +
SVE: 13,000 +
Biggest YouTube hit
LDR: “Video Games,” 26,000,000+
SVE: “For You,” 162,000+
Best song on current release
LDR: “Born To Die”
SVE: “In Line”
LDR: Yes (but maybe not, see bottom)
Brian Williams’ seal of approval
Substantial NPR feature
Substantial New York Times feature
LDR: Kristin Wiig, the entirety of the Internet
Catch Sharon Van Etten at the Bluebird Theater with the War on Drugs on March 28. Lana Del Rey has suspended her plans to tour this spring.