I’ve been an avid fan of Lana Del Rey (or LDR as I call her) since 2012, and I remain as deeply obsessed with her now as I did when I was fourteen. I feel like we have almost evolved together. I was and remain heavily influenced by her work.
Her albums capture particular periods in my life. Listening back always makes me nostalgic. I adore her unreleased songs just as much. I use to boast about my collection of sixty plus unreleased tunes, recorded under her many aliases such as Sparkle Jump Rope Queen, Lizzy Grant and Lana Del Ray. But, unfortunately these have been lost when my phone disappeared into the abyss of the movie theatre seats so now I’m re listening to her albums and new tracks on Spotify. I’m slowly rediscovering her unreleased songs through Youtube, amongst a community of LDR lovers.
My family and close friends were subjected to my borderline obsession with Lana (still are). I was continually playing her music so they too began to develop an appreciate for it. My parents weren’t too concerned with the constant references to drinking, drugs, suicide or ‘daddy’ blasting from our speakers. I think they were just pleased that I had found something which made me so happy.
When creating this post, I was originally thinking of ranking the albums and songs, but that seems almost blasphemous. Born to Die would easily sit at the bottom of my list of best to worst – but when I first listened to it, I thought it was utter perfection. These albums might not sound quite revolutionary to me as they once did, but they undoubtedly each left a mark on my life.
So, I am working through the albums chronically.
Born to Die (2012)
Born to Die was LDR’s proper debut and is easily defined by Lana’s own words about being a “gangster Nancy Sinatra”. It’s sweet, sugary pop with a slight darker side through Lana’s melancholy lyrics.
Born to Die was released when I was completely obsessed with blogging site ‘Tumblr’ and was at my most insecure. I immediately fell in love with LDR and Born to Die, and started to forge a sense of an identity inspired by the work. Lana was ‘indie’ (back when it wasn’t a dirty word), she felt sophisticated, complex and misunderstood – something I thought I was at fourteen.
Lana really captured this essence of tragic old Hollywood glamour in Born to Die and I was completely seduced by it.
On Repeat: Off to the Races
Skip: Dark Paradise
Iconic lyric: She laughs like God, her mind is a diamond (Carmen)
Born to Die: Paradise Edition
Born to Die: Paradise Edition or simply Paradise was released ten months after Born to Die and included eight fresh tracks. The Paradise Edition felt a little more dreamy and elegant than the original Born to Die.
The Paradise Edition launched with Ride, a song which continually manages to capture my imagination and heart. Ride also came with a gorgeous extended music video and poetic monologue – which I can still recite off by heart. The music video of was then ripped off by Taylor Swift, a real indication of the success of Lana’s single.
Ride allowed me to experience a type of delicious freedom which I am yet to feel in reality.
The specific lyric of ‘I’ve got a war in my mind’ in Ride poetically encapsulated the chaotic conflict of anxiety, insecurity, and curiosity that I continue to endure. I desperately seemed that clarity and enlightenment the song spoke about.
Tropico, a short film / extended music video, was later released and signified that Lana was no longer just a singer, but an artist.
On Repeat: Ride
Skip: Bel Air
Iconic Lyric: My pussy tastes like Pepsi cola, my eyes are wide like Cherry pies (Cola)
Ultraviolence was released in a pivotal point in my life. My parents had recently divorced, and I began to confront my first existential crisis.
The release of Ultraviolence was also a pivotal point in Lana’s career. Ultraviolence was a different sound, it was moody with a darker edge – comparable to the same dreamy sadness I was experiencing. Her sound had matured with a film-noir melodramatic essence which cemented it (in my mind) as a distinct and unique.
I remember singing Pretty When You Cry and Sad Girl over and over. Attempting to discover that same sense of beauty in the hurt and discomfort. I was hoping I’d forget whether life intimated art, or if art was intimating life.
On Repeat: Florida Kilos
Skip: Guns and Roses
Iconic Lyric: I’m a dragon and you’re a whore (Fucked My Way to the Top)
Honeymoon was a ray of hope and felt like the light breaking through the clouds after a relentless storm. I was becoming more at peace with myself and with life itself. One chapter of my life was ending and another was beginning, and Honeymoon was the soundtrack for it.
The sound of Honeymoon was more similar to Born to Die. A dreamier, sweeter fresh breath of air after the heaviness of Ultraviolence. The tracks of Honeymoon blend into each other with little distinction – much like the days of Summer or the waves of the ocean. It doesn’t matter where one starts and the other ends, the smooth flow is enjoyable.
High by the Beach evokes a particular mood in me, where all I want is to ditch all of my responsibilities and problems, and head to the sunny coast to get high. I’ll play it after a terrible day at work or during a long, boring bus trip and imagine lying on the hot sand with a cool drink in my hand.
On Repeat: Music to Watch Boys to
Skip: Swan Song
Iconic Lyric: You could be a bad motherfucker, but that don’t make you a man (High By the Beach)
Lust for Life (2017)
Lust for Life was long awaited. Released two years after Honeymoon, the release of Lust for Life was led by the (in my opinion) disappointing single of the same name, and was a collaboration with The Weeknd.
Lust for Life followed the devastating election of Donald Trump to the White House, and attempted to understand and the ease the pain of an uncertain future. God Bless America, Coachella, and Get Free all projected a much needed sense of hope.
I personally was challenging my own ideas of identity as an artist and the very concept of ‘art’. I felt pressured to produce perfection and was experiencing how criticism can heavily influence your art and processes. I listened to Cherry a lot during that period, especially when aggressively scribbling in my journal.
Get Free was a fantastic ending to the album, and one of my favourites. Interestingly enough, Radiohead was attempting to sue LDR due similarities to their song ‘Creep’ – which they were sued for by the Hollies.
On Repeat: Cherry
Iconic Lyric: I’m smoking while I’m runnin’ on my treadmill, but I’m cutting up roses (In My Feelings)
Lana’s next anticipated album is ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ which unfortunately has no confirmed release date. I’m excited to listen to the newest album and see what the next chapter brings for me.