Impact’s Music Essentials: Lana Del Rey

Photo of a guitar with flowers
Loretta Omoruanzoje

Just last month Lana Del Rey released her ninth studio album titled – ‘Did You Know There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard’. With such a large body of music it can be difficult to know where to start when first introduced to an artist. Impact’s Loretta Omoruanzoje has compiled a list of the top 10 songs she thinks would be a good starting point for a new listener.

Video Games (‘Born to Die’, 2012)

Released in 2012, Video Games is one of the singles on her debut album ‘Born to Die’. The 5-minute ballad seeks to channel the glamour of an old Hollywood artist. The song describes the conflict between the sweetness of letting go of your own personal ambitions for the one you love whilst yearning for something more in life. “Go play your video games”, reflects the simplicity of her life with the one she loves.

Ride (‘Born to Die: The Paradise Edition’, 2012)

Ride is a notable favourite of mine. With arguably one of her strongest bridges, the song illustrates internal war and solving problems by just running away from them – “I just ride”.

Young and Beautiful (‘The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann’s Film’, 2013)

a jazz version is performed at one of Gatsby’s parties

The first of her songs to be featured on a major movie soundtrack. The song is included in a number of scenes in The Great Gatsby. The original version plays as Nick, Gatsby and Daisy spend the day together but also a jazz version is performed at one of Gatsby’s parties. Lana Del Rey expresses the desire to grow old with the man she loves, wanting him to love her unconditionally. “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?”. An eternal love that lasts even after death – “Dear Lord, when I get to heaven / Please let me bring my man”.

Brooklyn Baby (‘Ultraviolence’, 2014)

In Brooklyn Baby, Lana Del Rey introduces us to her Brooklyn, one which reflects life in the sixties and seventies. Whether it’s the “feathers in my hair” or “[getting] down to Beat poetry”, Lana Del Rey reminisces on a time before she was born. Like many of her other songs, Brooklyn Baby seeks to romanticise every moment shared with a lover.

White Mustang (‘Lust for Life’, 2017)

White Mustang is largely believed to be about her ex-boyfriend and musician G-Eazy, who she dated back in 2017. Despite G-Eazy owning a black 1960s Ford Mustang, the lyrics “White Mustang” are used to express the desire to leave a relationship turned sour. It is not coincidental that the lyrics are sometimes heard as “Why am I staying?”

Cinnamon Girl (‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’, 2019)

Lana Del Rey has never shied away from telling her story through songs, even if that means discussing difficult subjects. The slow-paced, sombre song both co-written and co-produced by Jack Antonoff, tells the story of an abusive relationship; one of which her partner uses drugs to fix their problems but often results in creating distance between them.

Doin’ Time (‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’, 2019)

diverges from the original message of an unfaithful woman to a dark heroine

In Doin’ Time, Lana Del Rey covers Doin’ Time by American rock band Sublime. With minor modifications to the lyrics, Lana Del Rey puts her own spin, transforming it into a modern, seductive summer anthem. This is especially felt in the bridge of the song which diverges from the original message of an unfaithful woman to a dark heroine.

Black Bathing Suit (‘Blue Bannisters’, 2021)

Written during the pandemic, Black Bathing Suit explores feelings of loneliness. The lyrics “if this is the end, I want a boyfriend” expresses the wish to find companionship in what feels like the end times. Black Bathing Suit is also one of the first times she discusses her body image, by drawing attention to the only piece of clothing that still fits her which is the Black Bathing Suit.

Sweet Carolina (‘Blue Bannisters’, 2021)

Sweet Carolina is a love letter to her younger sister Chuck, who is suffering from “baby blues” or post-partum depression. Featuring a stripped, sweet, lullaby-like melody she aims to comfort and soothe her sister’s pain.

Taco Truck x VB (‘Did You know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard’, 2023)

The two-part song meshes the old with the new. The first part – Taco Truck is more lyrically playful with mentions of vape withdrawal and her nickname Lanita. Whilst VB, samples Venice Bitch from ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’. The song is almost unrecognisable at first as she experiments with a melody from an entirely different genre.

Loretta Omoruanzoje

Featured image courtesy of Jen Theodore via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

In-article videos courtesy of @LanaDelRey via @youtube.com. No changes were made to these videos.

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