Something funny is happening with Lana Del Rey's work on YouTube. First, watch the official music video for "Honeymoon," her latest song (Lizzie Plaugic called the work "six minutes of meandering bliss"). It appears cheap art is, well, imitating real life imitating cheap art. The video is so low-budget, it could be mistaken for a fake.
the video for honeymoon looks like it was filmed on a nokia— Cameron (@GrilledCamwich) July 14, 2015
The "Honeymoon" video is unusually composed mostly of a static image of the song's pre-released lyrics, which are so small they're nearly impossible to read.
After being bullied to release Honeymoon, Lana puts together a video from an old picnic and a picture of the lyrics. "Here's a lyric video."— Lana Fan Fiction (@LanaFanFiction) July 14, 2015
Fans are already busily creating rip-offs that look nearly as terrible as the original does.
Compare the official video (above) with this rip-off:
Does this seem like a waste of time? It's not (always). Many YouTubers, aiming to collect views, clicks, and subscribers to their channel, will skirt around intellectual property standards by separating audio from a video, slightly editing the audio, and slapping on lyrics and other images to make a new, unofficial video. Amateurs can gain millions of views and maybe even turn a profit, despite possible infringement. In 2013, Tom Scott briefly explained the complicated, lengthy history of lyric video style.
Lana Del Rey is part of a recent trend in official lyric videos
The difference between every other lyric video and "Honeymoon" is that "Honeymoon" is official but looks like a spammy amateur fan made it —perhaps the meta artistic goal of Del Rey's producer. MTV simply called it "weird." A writer on the website Directlyrics mused, "Hmmm… I guess this is Lana’s way of doing lyric videos? She’s so ahead of our time, lol."
While the method saves Del Rey a significant chunk of production money (it's no BBHMM), it still won't save her from seeing infinitely more poorly produced versions.
There are at least four other fan videos I found with a brief search. With YouTube's SEO connection to Google's globally popular search engine, unofficial versions will catch the views of naive fans (who are probably searching for the official video) precisely because the title includes the phrase "lyrics" when Del Rey's does not. It seems that, at least for official lyric videos, adding the word "lyrics" to the title of a song might just be good SEO practice.