Lana Del Rey’s recent H&M campaign is an example of how artists can gain popularity by capitalizing on what makes them unique and branching out of their traditional role as musicians.
Say what you will about Lana Del Rey’s talent as a vocalist, but there is no denying her success as a 1950s nostalgia poster girl. Since the release of her debut album Born To Die, it seems as though everything she appears in has some old-fashioned, Americana noir, sepia tinge to it.
So it came as no surprise when H&M launched a campaign featuring Del Rey last Wednesday with a short, promotional cover of the 1950s hit “Blue Velvet.” From her portrayal of Jackie O in her “National Anthem” video to this most recent role as a 50s lounge singer in the Swedish clothing line’s commercial, Lana has become as much a model for 1950s idealism as she is a 21st-century pop star.
Furthermore, the duality of her celebrity seems to do wonders for her popularity. After the September 19th launch of the David Lynch-esque commercial on H&M’s YouTube, Del Rey’s social media metrics jumped, showing a increases in fan engagement in correlation with the video and ads. Her Twitter mentions and Facebook Talking About metrics both grew by more than 100 percent, Wikipedia views jumped 76 percent and the video itself has already been viewed more than a quarter-million times in just five days.
Del Rey has also recently featured in foreign magazine spreads such as the UK’s version of GQ - as their Woman of the Year - and on the cover of Vogue in Australia. And in addition to H&M, she has signed on for modeling campaigns with Mulberry and Jaguar. While pop stars double-timing it as models is nothing new (Zooey Deschanel, Florence Welch and Taylor Swift have each been featured on fashion magazine covers and in modeling campaigns), the manner in which Del Rey consistently presents herself in a 1950s setting – both in music and fashion – is quite unique and she seems to be using it to her advantage.
Based on her long-term Facebook Talking About metrics and Wikipedia page views - a metric that spiked violently after her Saturday Night Live debacle - since January, she has tremendous increases coinciding with her major fashion moments: the release of the “National Anthem” video, the launch of the H&M campaign and being named GQ’s Woman Of The Year, an honor that you can see caused a bigger stir than the SNL performance.
And thus, it seems safe to say, Lana Del Rey is back on the rise.
Billy Mitchell is the data journalism intern for music analytics company Next Big Sound. Mitchell is currently a graduate student at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute focusing on magazine writing. Before joining the Next Big Sound team, the Newport News, VA native worked with CMJ and Rolling Stone.