In a February review of Lana Del Rey’s mixed bag debut LP, Born to Die, I postulated that her image was more compelling than her sound. Three months later, I’m surprised how true this statement turned out to be. On a hunch, I wanted to see how many people came to Luddite Stereo in search of a picture of Lana Del Rey (I had posted three of them in the review). Just by perusing my site’s daily traffic, I had a feeling the number might be quite high.
As it turns out, WordPress’ statistics engine leaves much to be desired; I can’t explicitly find out how many times someone searched for an image of Lana Del Rey. But I can come close. By examining the number of Google Image searches that hit my site, I’m able to see how many people came to my site by looking for an image since I wrote the review. I can also tell, with some digging around, how many times someone used a search term related to Lana Del Rey.
Here’s what I found:
Extrapolating those numbers a bit, 79% of 930 searches is 735 (the number of LDR image searches) which when you divide by 2,900 (the total number of searches on Luddite Stereo) equals 0.25.
Basically, one-quarter of all the people who visit my site come to look at Lana Del Rey.
As an internet user, I don’t find this particularly shocking — people enjoy looking at other people who are pretty, and Lana certainly is easy on the eyes these days. But as a writer, I gotta say it’s downright depressing. Here I am, crafting articles from blood, sweat and tears, and 1 out of every 4 of my “readers” is really just looking for a snapshot of Lana. Granted, those people may have stayed to listen to her music or read a bit about her, but upon arrival, they were definitely looking for her picture.
Incidentally, while 735 people looked for a picture of LDR, 58 people actually cared enough to download her song “Video Games” from this site. So you could reasonably argue that, at least on this site, Lana’s image is roughly 13 times more compelling than her sound. While this estimate ignores those visitors who went out and bought her music (after all, Del Rey has sold well over a million copies of Born to Die), it sure makes for an interesting discussion.
All of this probably wouldn’t be such a big deal if Del Rey (real name Lizzy Grant) hadn’t been accused of drastically altering her image to generate a buzz around her music. That story played out in the my search data too, where more than one person searched on each of the following phrases:
I wonder how Lana Del Rey feels about all of this. Delighted? Used? Vindicated? Conflicted, at the very least? She works hard on her debut album and people simply want to ogle at her. Is it all by design? Do any of these window shoppers who stop to check out the beautiful merchandise out in front of the store come inside to find out the story behind it?
And don’t all of us do this in some form or another? Nobody posts a shitty profile picture of themselves on a dating site (except maybe these folks) or dresses like crap for that first job interview. Everyday, we put our prettiest face forward and hope someone sticks around long enough to find out more.
And as for content authors, isn’t that one of the reasons why we post pictures on these blogs at all? To get people in the door?
Speaking of which…
There. The obligatory picture of our singer. In her underwear. Contemplating a sequel to Born to Die, no doubt.
I know its exploitative, but I gotta keep those hits up. I’m starting to understand what it feels like to be Lana Del Rey.