Lana del Rey – Is she Latina?

Apparently Lana del Rey is the hot thing right now, and her popularity began some time last year – but I had no clue who she was until a couple weeks ago.

I don’t listen to music in English even half as much as I listen to music in Spanish – so that might be why Lana flew under my radar for so long, and she would have continued to remain unknown to me if it weren’t for these terrible headaches I’ve been getting.

These particular headaches aren’t anything to fool around with – I can’t just take Tylenol and carry on as I usually do – and by “carry on as I usually do”, I mean playing Pitbull full blast for at least some portion of my day.

Well, I can’t manage with no music at all and so I decided I needed a temporary replacement for Pitbull, Reggaeton, Norteños, and all the other typically loud-ish music I listen to. One day, with a headache building, I flipped through the satellite radio channels and impatiently stopped on some sort of “coffeehouse” station – I ended up leaving it on the entire week. The music was calm, didn’t distract me from my work and some of the songs they repeated often began to grow on me.

Then one day, this song began to play and I stopped mid-typing, completely absorbed in the hauntingly beautiful music and the singer’s voice.

I rushed to find out the name of the singer and the song, which turned out to be “Video Games” by Lana del Rey. I laughed to myself, seeing the name. Leave it to me to find the only Latina on the coffeehouse station, but when I looked up the artist to find out more about her, I found a number of things I didn’t expect.

First of all, she’s highly controversial for a multitude of reasons. (See here, and here, and over here…Okay, and here too.)

The other thing I found out? While her exact heritage isn’t publicly known, Lana most likely isn’t Latina. Born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, her birth name suggests Anglo ancestry, (though one never knows whose hiding in the family tree.) The Spanish-sounding “Lana del Rey” is just a stage name which some say was concocted from the name of movie star Lana Turner and the Ford Del Rey automobile. Lana tells a different story…

“I wanted a name I could shape the music towards [...] I was going to Miami quite a lot at the time, speaking a lot of Spanish with my friends from Cuba – Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue.” – Source: Vogue magazine interview

Despite the various controversies over everything from her authenticity to her plump lips, I can’t help but like the girl based on her voice alone. As for Lana/Elizabeth using a Spanish name for her public persona, who am I to judge? If I hadn’t married a Mr. López, maybe I’d have changed my name to Tracy del Rey by now. Is it not one’s prerogative to call themselves whatever they please? What do you think?