According to a recently published map, Lana Del Rey is the most streamed pop-girl in seven countries in Eastern Europe. What could be the reason for the American star’s success in the region, known for her melancholic songs? That’s what Rolling Stone magazine sought to find out.
Earlier this summer, a map was published showing which international pop diva is most popular in which country, based on Spotify streaming data. While Taylor Swift dominated the English-speaking countries and Shakira triumphed among Spanish speakers, in Western and Central Europe Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, and Zara Larsson conquered one or more countries. What is striking, however, is that in seven Eastern European countries (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey), Lana Del Rey was the winner.
Rolling Stone investigated the reason for this. Reactions on social media mainly highlighted Lana Del Rey’s melancholic tone (think of songs like Summertime Sadness and Sad Girl). “The Eastern Bloc has seen pain,” writer Kate Demolder quote-tweeted. “Whole of Eastern Europe is depressed,” joked another user. Although the stereotype of “depressed Eastern Europe” is not only exaggerated but also untrue, according to one study, the region does have a fascination with sad, romantic music.
The music magazine interviewed Poles on the subject. According to music writer Artur Wojtczak, an important factor is that Romanticism is still the most important era in Poland, and the singer’s success is due to the region’s love of expressive and emotionally intense singers. Culture editor of the Polityka newspaper Bartek Chacinski believes that Del Rey’s songs are similar to the European format that has shaped the region’s taste for decades. In addition, there’s the popular Polish singer sanah, often dubbed the “Polish Lana Del Rey”; the Polish Open’er Festival, where Del Rey was one of the main performers in 2019; and the attraction to the “American Dream”, of which the singer has a nostalgic and romantic image.
However, one of the possible reasons cited is that in a region that often experiences political undercurrents, including the current war, people are more drawn to music that combines despondency, sadness, and cinematic fantasy with a sense of hope.