Lana Del Rey: The brightest new star, or another would-be whose time will soon be gone?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Lana Del Rey's viral fame took us all by storm. Even David Cameron got in on the act. Now comes her first album. Can she succeed where other bright young prospects have crashed and burned?

When Elizabeth Grant, a singer from New York, uploaded a melancholy music video on YouTube last August she set in place a remarkable series of events that would catapult her from relative obscurity into international stardom. The track, "Video Games", instantly touched a nerve, clocking up thousands of hits in the first few hours and spreading virally. Two million people saw it in the first few weeks. Celebrities from Fearne Cotton, to Jessica Alba and The Kooks' Luke Pritchard accelerated the speed of its appeal. A debut UK tour was announced, sold out, and was then postponed while bigger venues were found. All of this on the strength of a beautifully arranged but lone song, which has to date amassed more than 20 million views online.

But now the meteoric rise has provoked a furious debate: is Lana Del Rey really to be taken at face value, "a gangster Nancy Sinatra", as she styled herself, who had emerged fully formed into the digital limelight; or was is she merely the alluring front of a songwriting-marketing machine?

It has become the focus of study. Armies of bloggers have rummaged around the internet claiming that the New York native was anything but the bohemian artist that got lucky online. Indeed, the 25-year-old had previously been signed to a record label, she originates from a wealthy family, she is the daughter of a former advertising executive, and her father played no small part in marketing her first album.

The backlash picked up steam after the quality of Del Rey's recent performance on America's Saturday Night Live was attacked by fans and critics. Now comes the toughest test.

Her new album, Born To Die, is released tomorrow – and will prove, once and for all, whether "Video Games" was a one-hit digital wonder or the start of something special. Whether, in other words, we should believe the hype.

With this in mind The Independent on Sunday looks back on a few of the most hyped artists in living memory – oh, yes, and recalls another artist with an album out tomorrow who needs little advance publicity.

Girl Thing

The sell: "The Spice Girl Clones"

What happened: The girl-band jungle is red in tooth and claw (and nail extension). One moment Girl Thing's label, BMG, was launching the five Brits at the Eiffel Tower as "Spice Girls, the next generation", and crow-barring them on to the cover of Smash Hits. The next, after two underperforming singles, they were toast, their album axed, with nothing to show for the £1.5m lavished on them.

Their debut single, "Last One Standing", only reached No 8 and the subsequent howler was enough to scrap the album release.

Where are they now? Some members opted for careers in television while others moved to Scandinavia in search of fame.

Sandi Thom

The sell: "The MySpace Joni Mitchell"

What happened: Sandi Thom, a 24-year-old Scot, moved to London and chanced upon the idea of webcasting her songs from a "piss-stained basement" in Tooting. Tens of thousands logged on and tuned in, Sony signed her and "I wish I was a Punk Rocker" became the sound of the summer. Ah, bliss it was to be alive in that digital dawn ... until an army of bloggers started chipping away at Sandi Thom's backstory and started saying unkind things about big PR agencies and shadowy media strategies. The backlash was not pretty: the next single reached No 22 and a third didn't chart at all.

Where is she now? Thom moved to America last year and released her fourth album.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik

The sell: "We'll be right back after a few words from our sponsors."

What happened: In 1985, EMI pumped £4m into a new band that combined guitars and the latest sampling technology, and flogged advertising space between album tracks. Their name was cod-Russian ("Burn, burn, satellite!"). But a subsequent tour was marred by poor ticket sales and violence, and Sputnik headed to earth with a bang.

Where are they now? Frontman Martin Degville started to play live as Sigue Sigue Sputnik Electronic and is re-recording the first two albums.

Transvision Vamp

The sell: "The Brit Madonna"

What happened: Lead singer Wendy James was a self-publicist without equal: she graced the cover of The Face magazine wearing just a pair of diamanté nipple studs, and wondered aloud: "Imagine the controversy when I'm more famous than Madonna." A couple of punk-lite singles, "Baby, I Don't Care" and "I Want Your Love", went Top Five in the UK, but the Vamp split in 1992 and James went solo. We still await that controversy, Wendy.

Where are they now? After spells abroad, James has recently released a new album, aptly entitled: I Came Here to Blow Minds.

Roaring Boys

The sell: "The Oxbridge Duran Duran"

What happened: When Simon Le Bon and Co started selling yacht-loads of records, every label wanted a New Romantic act on the roster. A bunch of suitably dressed Oxbridge graduates were wise to this. A bidding war erupted, and CBS signed the band for £150,000. Only one hitch: they had not one song of substance. Drummer Dave Larcombe said: "We did everything right. It was just the music that let us down."

Where are they now? Some members defected to The Bible while others disappeared into the wilderness.

Moby Grape

The sell: "The San Francisco Beatles"

What happened: Columbia thought it had struck gold – Moby Grape had Haight-Ashbury cred by the reefer-load, but wrote catchy pop songs. What could go wrong?

Well ... five singles were released at once, but at the launch party several band members were busted for marijuana possession. Harder drugs, creative differences and mental health problems then brought the band to its knees.

Where are they now? Moby Grape still perform occasionally with core members Jerry Miller, Bob Mosley and Peter Lewis.

The Sex Pistols

The sell: "Three-chord rock for a three-day week"

What happened: "Actually we're not into music," said Steve Jones after an early gig, "we're into chaos." Thus the Sex Pistols, with the nous of manager Malcolm McLaren, re-arranged the popular culture of mid-Seventies Britain. Three singles, an album, and a live-TV ruck with Bill Grundy made sure even your granny knew who they were.

Where are they now? Aside from frontman Jonny Rotten, the surviving members have lain low largely as session musicians in London. Talks of a Sex Pistols reunion have been largely thwarted.

The Spice Girls

The sell: "Girl Power"

What happened: Impresario Simon Fuller and his five charges thought they could break the boy-band strangle- hold – and the release in July 1996 of the Spice Girls' first single, "Wannabe", proved them quite right. For a dizzying couple of years, the Girls' peppy music, cutely defined personalities and sort-of feminist slogan (Girl Power!) defied cynicism, and, let's be honest, took over the world. Not even their break-up four years later and their less-than-thrilling solo careers can quite dim their fizzy memory.

Where are they now? All five carved out lucrative careers and will remind us of that when they reunite for the Diamond Jubilee.

Gay Dad

The sell: "Britpop is dead! Long live Britpop!"

What happened: Britpop wasn't looking too clever by 1998, and the media settled on ex-style journalist Cliff Jones and his rockers as the next big thing. They were the first band to play Top of the Pops without a record to its name. Their debut single "To Earth with Love" wasn't the saviour of British rock. Two albums later, Gay Dad were back in the closet. According to Jones: "We got shot out of the cannon. Then things started to get out of control, and as rapidly as we went up we came down again."

Where are they now? Frontman Cliff Jones is a music journalist and lectures at the Bristol Institute of Modern Music and Bath Spa University.

Vanilla Ice

The sell: "The Great White Hope of Hip-Hop, bro"

What happened: Robert van Winkle burst on the scene with a flat-top as sharp as his cheekbones, and trousers as baggy as his lyrics: "Will it ever stop? I don't know. Turn off the lights and I'll glow," he promised in the only song that most recall, "Ice Ice Baby". For a while, Van Winkle ripped: the fastest-selling hip-hop album of all time and a relationship with Madonna. A decade later, with the rapper in rehab after a suicide attempt, Eminem picked up the mantle that Van Winkle thought was his.

Where are they now? Spotted over the Christmas season in Kent playing Captain Hook in a local production of Peter Pan.

... and one who stood the test of time

Leonard Cohen

The sell: "Poetry rocks"

What happened: Cohen is releasing Old Ideas, his 12th studio album since 1967, in a career that is the antithesis of hype. The 77-year-old Canadian only turned to music after a disappointing writing career in the early Sixties. Songs such as "Bird on a Wire", "Suzanne" and "Famous Blue Raincoat" epitomised the dry delivery of his lyrics and their sparse settings to music. He has continued to record on his own terms, despite a five-year Buddhist retreat, bankruptcy and a penchant for awful synthesisers.

Where is he now? Cohen lives in Montreal, and is happily recording and touring.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
film
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be Lonely Island's second Hollywood venture following their 2007 film Hot Rod
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Day-Lewis stars in the movie There Will Be Blood
music
Arts and Entertainment
Brush with greatness: the artist Norman Cornish in 1999
art
Life and Style
Stress less: relaxation techniques can help focus the mind and put problems in context
art
Arts and Entertainment

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment