I can’t get enough of Lana Del Rey. I pretty much haven’t listened to anything else for the past 15 months, and I don’t remember the last time I was this inspired and awed by a songstress. It was probably Tori Amos when I was 17. I don’t really know what the popular opinion of her is because I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio, but she seems to have some die-hard fans on the internet but if she’s still ‘underground’ or ‘mainstream’, I couldn’t say.
I do know she has only released one album so far (well, same album twice) and while it’s a superb one, the real treasure exists on youtube where there are literally hundreds of unreleased tracks and demos by her floating around. This girl is a machine! For someone who has only released one album, I currently have 61 songs by her on my iTunes. Every few months I’ll go on a Lana Del Rey treasure hunt on youtube and discover 10 new songs that I convert to mp3s and voila, a brand new album! (How to convert youtube videos to audio files)
Anyway, onwards to the list! 5 reasons Lana Del Rey is awesome
1. Her songs are like my favorite movies in song form. Seriously, take the Weird Americana of David Lynch, the stylish violence of Quentin Tarantino, the vintage nostalgia of Sofia Coppola, the recklessness of Oliver Stone and soak it all in a hazy daydream of Hollywood, California and young love, doomed love, lost love. I love it. Listen for yourself:
Born to Die (released; official video)
Jump (unreleased; fan-made video)
2. She writes really outrageous and sometimes creepy lyrics but make them sound so fun and pretty. I don’t know a single person who could say “My pussy tastes like pepsi-cola” and not only not be labeled cheese-ball but also make it sound positively sexy (‘Cola’). So I liked Lana Del Rey after hearing her album but I didn’t get obsessed until I found ‘Kinda Outta Luck’ on youtube. This is an early (maybe 2009?), unreleased song from the point of view of a femme fatale who has a habit of murdering her amorous liaisons. How can it be so adorable?? Lana did, and still does sometimes, edit her own videos using vintage movie clips with cuts of herself singing. In her earliest days making these I’m pretty sure she just shot them on her webcam, which is awesome. The effect is unique and nostalgic, rough yet delicate and pretty.
Kinda Outta Luck (unreleased)
Runner up: Serial Killer (unreleased)
3. She really does look “old Hollywood”. I think this girl is absolutely beautiful and she pulls off these retro looks so well. From 50’s screen goddess à la Lauren Bacall and Rita Hayworth, to a 60’s mod complete with heavy eyelids, beehives and shift dresses. Some days when I can barely be bothered to slap on some tinted moisturizer and mascara, I try to channel Lana’s effort because, let’s face it, these looks don’t come fast and easy! See for yourself – Lana as a stunning alternative Jackie Kennedy:
National Anthem (released; official video)
Young and Beautiful (released; official video; OST The Great Gatsby)
4. Her videos are glorious works of art. She is working with a top team. The video below, Ride, is more like a mini-movie, ten minutes long, and every single frame is breathtaking. The cinematography, editing, her style and make up are all flawless moments frozen in time. But although Ride is a big production, she doesn’t shy away from her roots and still makes small videos, like Summer Wine, for her fans that are drenched in nostalgia and beauty. She is music, words, pictures, film and fashion come alive.
Ride (released; official video)
Summer Wine (youtube release)
5. Beautiful. Provocative. Tragic. There are no characters anymore. In old Hollywood, you were assigned a role. Marilyn. Sex Bomb. Rita Hayworth. The Love Goddess. Audrey. Princess waif. Kate Hepburn. The lady wears pants. The list goes on. It didn’t matter if you fit your image, most of them didn’t. But the image is all that remains. Hollywood was always an illusion. I’m not sure why we are trying to make it so “real” these days. It’s still a circus and you either end up painstakingly normal, like most celebs, or substance addicted, like the other half. But we want characters, larger than life. Lana is still probably pretty normal most of the time, and she’s very productive and talented, no doubt, but she has also created a character that allows people to imagine and dream. Isn’t that the job of an artist?
Afraid (unreleased, fan-made video)
Do you agree with this list? What’s your favorite Lana Del Rey track? Let me know in the comments!