Lana Del Rey claims to live in a cruel world where she’s constantly up against other artists and music critics.
But after setting the internet ablaze today (May 21) with a “question for the culture” about her disproportionate backlash for the kind of music she makes, the Born to Die singer proved the pen is mightier than the sword.
Billboard compiled a timeline of Lana Del Rey’s headline-making mishaps below.
March 2012: The “Blue Jeans” singer reveals the single’s cover art that features a man choking her.
Del Rey encountered one of her earliest criticisms of “glamorizing abuse” when she shared the artwork for “Blue Jeans” (the B-side to “Video Games”), which showed a man’s tattooed hand putting her in a not-so-dainty chokehold.
October 2012: Del Rey dons a full Native American headdress for the “Ride” music video.
Off her 2012 album Paradise, the artist let her tousled curls soar in the whimsical summer visual for “Ride” before tucking them into a Native American headdress.
December 2013: Her “Tropico” short film appropriates Latino gangster culture.
More trouble in her dark paradise ensues as Del Rey transforms into a stripper with two teardrop tattoos and a belly stamp that says “Trust No Bi—” (acting as some equivalent to Tupac Shakur‘s “Thug Life” emblem) in her 27-minute art film/music video titled “Tropico.” Toward the end of the cinematic visual, Del Rey and her thug beau shed their stereotypical ensembles and redeem themselves as the white-clothed couple ascends into heaven.
November 2014: A 27-second snippet of a scrapped Marilyn Manson music video shows Del Rey in a rape scene.
Marilyn Manson recruited horror film director Eli Roth for a music video that was never supposed to see the light of day but eventually leaked, but Roth played a horrifying role in the clip himself. He’s seen throwing a Texas Chainsaw Massacre T-shirt clad Del Rey down onto a bed as she proceeds to cry and scream until he lifts himself off her.
October 2018: It’s a Lana Del Rey vs. Azealia Banks showdown.
The birth of this notorious feud involved one of hip-hop’s most controversial figures, Kanye West, after the Chicago rapper pulled out the red Make America Great Again hat for the first time. “Trump becoming our president was a loss for our country but your support of him is a loss for the culture,” she shot back in his comments. But Banks fired directly at the “National Anthem” singer for her privileged standpoint in the political debacle.
“To me this just looks like the typical White woman taking using a weakened target to ‘pretend’ to be an ally,” Banks tweeted at the time from her currently suspended account. “Especially because you know that a white woman vs a black male will result in an immediate victory for the white woman due to societal circumstances. You wouldn’t dare challenge a black woman on her opinion because you don’t have that (much of a) social prejudice in place between.”
The catfight that ensued later escalated to the “212” rapper threatening to burn down Del Rey’s house with #AzealiaVoodoo. “Honestly, you know The Big Bad Witch is smarter than that. When her house mysteriously goes up in flames while she is asleep inside… I want to see as many #Azealiavoodoo hashtags as possible,” she wrote on Twitter. The artists then tore each other apart for their appearances, from Banks pointing out her “pointy Michael Jackson nose” and recommending a NSFW workout to Del Rey suggesting she see a psychiatrist since her “psych meds aren’t working.”
LANA LITERALLY SNAPPED pic.twitter.com/RxdXSk3L6x
— pierce (@piercespears) September 30, 2018
September 2019: She slams NPR’s longtime music critic Ann Powers for her Norman F—ing Rockwell album review.
Del Rey’s sixth album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and received two Grammy award nominations, but it didn’t perform so well elsewhere. Titled “Lana Del Rey Lives In America’s Messy Subconscious,” Powers described her artistic persona as “a bad girl to whom bad things are done” with “uncooked” lyrics, which the artist herself viciously denied both claims on Twitter in response to Powers sharing the story. “So don’t call yourself a fan like you did in the article and don’t count your editor one either — I may never never have made bold political or cultural statements before- because my gift is the warmth I live my life with and the self reflection I share generously,” Del Rey continued on the thread.
May 2020: Del Rey lashes out against “female writers and alt singers” while announcing a new album and two poetry books.
“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” might be the ultimate manifesto of Del Rey, who published a scathing letter on her Instagram today (May 21) that criticized the culture for letting “Doja Cat, Ariana, Camila, Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyonce have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, f—ing, cheating, etc” while she can’t sing “about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money — or whatever I want — without being crucified or saying that I’m glamorizing abuse?”
The Grammy award-nominated artist continued to write, “I just want to say over the last ten years I think it’s pathetic that my minor lyrical exploration detailing my sometimes submissive or passive roles in my relationships has often made people say I’ve set women back hundreds of years.” Del Rey seems to be packing heat with two poetry books in the works and a seventh album due Sept. 5, but will she come out with guns blazing after standing by her signature lyrical themes that have scorched her in the past?
October 2020: The singer wears a mesh mask to greet fans
Del Rey shared a series of photos and videos on Instagram on Oct. 3, attending a book signing in Los Angeles and greeting a large crowd of fans while wearing what appeared to be a mesh, netted mask. Critics called out the star for putting fans at risk with a sheer mask that does not protect others from coronavirus exposure.
Though she didn’t overtly apologize for the mask, a day later she posted a video reading a poem from her book in a proper cloth mask.
January 2021: Controversy over the album cover reveal for Chemtrails Over the Country Club
The artist revealed the art for her seventh studio album on social media Jan. 10, a black-and-white image of a diverse group of women sitting around a table. “As it happens when it comes to my amazing friends and this cover yes there are people of color on this records picture and that’s all I’ll say about that,” she commented on the Instagram post. “In 11 years working I have always been extremely inclusive without even trying to. My best friends are rappers my boyfriends have been rappers. 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.”
The comment led to controversy, with fans pointing out the various issues they had with her statement, as well as the image itself. “you’re basically saying ‘I don’t see color’ which is part of the problem,” wrote one follower. Added another, “when you say you have dated rappers, are you inferring all rappers are black men? Weird thing to mention when claiming you are not racist and have ‘WOC/POC’ in your life.” At press time, there were more than 3,200 responses to just her Instagram comment.