Voices That Matter: Authenticity, Identity, and Voice in the Musical Career of Lana Del Rey

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<jats:p> Discursive authentications of singing voices in pop music reception are often rooted in gendered expectations. Moving away from essentialist understandings of the ‘authentic voice,’ this article proffers that voices are formatively entangled in processes of subjectification. Lana Del Rey is a singer whose (vocal) career has been considered inauthentic in the discourse of journalists, particularly when she first rose to stardom in 2011 via YouTube. Del Rey is a prime example of the contemporary values of artistic personae in pop culture, as her career has been so bound to notions of authenticity and sounding authentic. Through an analysis of the vocal aesthetics of Del Rey and the discourse that surrounds her, the notion of ‘vocal ontogenesis’ is developed. This concept moves from subjectification as an ontologically complete instance to subjectification as a never-ending process. The notion of vocal ontogenesis becomes useful for comprehending the complex aggregations of which the voice is a component, and more broadly implies the need for further study of vocal materialism, setting an agenda for decentered examinations of voice, gender, and authenticity. </jats:p>






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Blackburn, Anton (n.d.). Voices That Matter: Authenticity, Identity, and Voice in the Musical Career of Lana Del Rey. Nota Bene: Canadian Undergraduate Journal of Musicology, 13(1). pp. 84–114. 10.5206/notabene.v13i1.8579 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25867.

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Anton Blackburn



M.St. Musicology, Wadham College, Oxford University (2021)
B.A. Music, Jesus College, Oxford University (2020)


Anton Blackburn is a second-year Ph.D. Candidate in Ethnomusicology with a secondary specialisation in (Comparative) Literature and a Certificate in Feminist Studies. Their work lies at the intersections of trans theory, queer theory, critical theory, media theory, and popular music studies; music and dance in UK trans nightlife; and the anthropology of death and afterlife. Anton has previously worked on drag performance socialities as well as historical-ethnographic research on music labels and discourses of modernity and time, in particular relation to the avant-pop label PC Music. Their master's thesis can be read here: 'Queering accelerationism: Virtual ethnography, PC Music, and the temporal politics of queerness'.

As a cultural theorist and ethnographer, Anton's doctoral thesis will examine "Trans Sound," including the sonic afterlives of SOPHIE in trans nightlife in London. Through hauntological ethnography, this thesis will seek to articulate the social significance of SOPHIE in the trans aesthetic and political imaginary, whilst attempting to convey the ordinary and spectacular lives of trans musicians and performers in the UK. 

Since coming to Duke, Anton has produced peer-reviewed articles on: 'Dragging music: Towards a queer socio-cultural semiotics,' which has been accepted for publication in The Journal of the Royal Musical Association; and 'Transaurality: On listening to SOPHIE against queer theory,' accepted for publication in Contemporary Music Review

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