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Lana Del Rey album artwork

Five on it: I appreciate Lana Del Rey, but wish she’d leave WOC out of it

Our new Five on it writer Kayleigh has arrived to consider the latest Lana Del Rey debacle, plus she highlights her releases of the week, featuring Zoe Wees, Flohio, Nao, Miss Grit and Zayn.

15 Jan 2021

Photo: Lana Del Rey album artwork in pink duotone

Hello, I’m… not Tara – surprise! I’m Kayleigh and I’m super stoked to be caretaking this weekly run-down of new music for gal-dem, a lovely start to my 2021.

Let’s all agree, however: this week has already been a long year. I am worn, weathered, drained and bewildered. From the unravelling of the English free school meals scandal, the sequel to Trump: The Impeachment, Armie Hammer’s kinks and everything in between – simply, it has been a lot. But at least, when I took to Instagram on Sunday night for my pre-sleep doom scroll ritual, I was excited to see the tracklist to Lana Del Rey’s forthcoming album Chemtrails Over the Country Club sitting pretty at the top of my newsfeed. 

As a vested, long-term Lana fan myself, I’d been twitching along with the rest of her supporters in the hope for more following last year’s cancellations of The Norman Fucking Rockwell! Tour and her debut poetry book, Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass. Hell, I even pitched a 33 ⅓ on Born to Die: Paradise, but all these feels are part of what makes her recent discourse so frustrating

The black and white cover of Chemtrails Over the Country Club snaps a group of ten young women – Lana’s friends – huddled around a gingham clothed table; beaded and dressed to the nines, they are clearly comfortable in each other’s company. Lana beams, caught mid-laugh; the whole scene is rather lovely – and her subsequent overexplaining, unnecessary. 

No doubt anticipating criticism following the social media backlash for her 2020 comments that namechecked a majority of WOC contemporaries when comparing public perception of her music as “glamorising abuse”, Lana left a (now deleted) questionable disclaimer underneath her post. “My best friends are rappers my boyfriends have been rappers,” she stated. “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.”

On guard after the previous dialogue, the unsolicited over-explanation was disrespectful to the highlighted women on the cover. Lana Del Rey fans – POC or not – don’t want protestations of innocence when it comes to race, they want her to use her platform to raise awareness on societal and political injustices for marginalised communities, without referencing the issues in context of herself. 

And now, here’s your Five on it.

Zoe Wees – ‘Girls Like Us’

Hailing from Germany, the 18-year-old is making big pop tunes fit for the American charts, having already performed on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Her impressively balladic vocal is one big middle finger up to the impossible beauty standards peddled by brands and social media.

Nao feat. Adekunle Gold – ‘Antidote’

It may be the dead of winter misery, but Nao never fails to deliver some tropical warmth to remind us what summer feels like (cross your digits, we’ll be allowed outdoors). This one is all about the rhythm; join me in wiggling in your seat.

FLOHIO – ‘Roundtown’

Returning with a low-key and moody music video gives reason to celebrate FLOHIO’s recent mixtape, No Panic No Pain. Big throbbing bass and skittish beats are the perfect blend with FLOHIO’s no-nonsense delivery, whilst the synth makes it all a bit eerie.

Miss Grit – ‘Impostor’

If you like Wolf Alice or Black Honey, you’ll love this sharp bit of indie rock from Korean-American talent Miss Grit. Punchy drum beats and chunky guitar riffs are the dish of the day on her menu.

Zayn – Nobody’s Listening

Zayn, it’s been a while – where you been? Three years have passed since the release of second album Icarus Falls – an age in the pop world – but he’s made up for it by dropping his new bit Nobody’s Listening today. Latest single ‘Vibez’ is pure 00s R&B goodness, giving me those early Ne-Yo, er, Vibez. 

You can follow gal-dem’s Five on it playlist on Spotify: