As it did with Taylor Swift earlier this year, New York University’s CliveDavis Institute has introduced a course on Lana Del Rey for this fall. Taughtby journalist and author Kathy Iandoli, the two-credit course, “Topics inRecorded Music: Lana Del Rey” runs Oct. 20-Dec. 8.
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According to an NYU rep, the course will examine Del Rey’s contributions to21st Century pop stardom, her relationship to feminism, her musical influencesand artists she has influenced, and her connection to social justice movementssuch as #BlackLlivesMatter, #MeToo and #TimesUp . Del Rey was honored with theDecade Award at variety ‘s Hitmakers event in December.
The course description reads: Over the course of eight critically-acclaimedalbums, the six-time Grammy nominated artist has introduced a sad core,melancholic, and baroque version of dream pop that in turn helped shift andreinvent the sound (and mood) of mainstream music beyond the 2010s . Throughher arresting visuals and her thematic attention to mental health and tales oftoxic, damaged love, Del Rey provided a new platform for artists of allgenders to create “anti-pop” works of substance that could live in amainstream once categorized as bubblegum .
Speaking with Variety, Iandoli says, “In so many ways, I feel like Lana DelRey is both a blueprint and a cautionary tale, a complicated pop star whoresonates so much with her fans, not because of how she makes them feel abouther , but rather how she makes them feel about themselves. She has changed theparameters of baroque pop and now more specifically “sad girl pop” through hermusic, by expanding the subject matter which at times is controversial andchallenging. There are so many pieces in this mosaic that we have now come toknow as Lana Del Rey, and this course examines every dimension of it.”
Chaired by veteran music writer and musician Jason King, the Davis Institutehas included classes taught by Questlove, “Dilla Time” author Dan Charnas,Q-Tip, legendary producer-engineer Bob Power and many others.
Of the Del Rey course, King tells Variety, “When we offer artist-themedcourses at the Clive Davis Institute, we are always asking: how does thisartist’s work help students think through larger and complex cultural, socialor political issues or movements? Lana Del Rey refracts so many changes incontemporary culture, especially as the role of contemporary women in popmusic keeps shifting. Studying Lana Del Rey means thinking more critically thegrowing popularity of so-called anti-pop. It means finding ways to considerthe increased interest in mental health and issues of psychological damage,and to evaluate changes in they 21st way we think about identity, especiallyin terms of race, gender, nation and class. Lana is especially relevant, andcontroversial, when it comes to changing ideas about intersectional feminismover the past decade.
“The point of our artist-themed classes at the Clive Davis Institute is toencourage students think more deeply and critically about the icons theyadmire and to develop a historical and contextual understanding of thoseartists,” he continues. “Students are expected to approach the study of LanaDel Rey with the same critical lens with which they approach the study of LedZeppelin or John Coltrane or Bob Marley or Stevie Wonder or Joni Mitchell inother Writing/History/Emergent Media Studies courses we offer . There is agrowing body of academic research and scholarly discourse on Lana Del Rey aswell that seeks to assess her cultural meaning and impact, and students readand think through some of the work in class.”
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