Lecquia Chang, Year 12
Nostalgia and vintage glamour cannot better describe Lana Del Rey’s fascination of 50’s Hollywood cinema, the American identity, JFK, Marilyn Munroe, youth and innocence, and sophistication which she tailors in her music, inspired by Frank and Nancy Sinatra, Elvis, and Bob Dylan. Combining various genres of baroque, dreamy, indie pop and rock, Lana skilfully constructs infinite layers of symbolism as she seeks to capture endless cross-references and deep interpretations. Every word, pause, sigh, hum, poetic quote and instrumental swell means something as she speaks of her personal experiences, struggles and longings for something that is true to her. As a result, listeners are drawn and transported into a black hole of pure emotion and nostalgia.
Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life Album
Lana’s most recent album, Lust for Life, would perhaps be one of her most outstanding albums as she branches from the darkness, blues and density of her previous works. The album presents a new era to her music as she transitions from her personal internal struggles to becoming a sublime American storyteller as she directly addresses her audience in the face of social and political change. Some may say her music is slow nonetheless unconventional, but Lana paints a vivid impressionist landscape of the deep emotions engrained within the individual during the process of change itself. Albeit, her uncharacteristic smile on the cover of the Lust for Life album has also given rise to a new shift in her music – Lana portrays a sense of optimism for today’s youth that life, happiness and positive change is worth believing in and living for.
Love is probably one of her best singles and a beautiful artwork of a 50s style rock-anthem featuring a warm and grainy cinematic touch. Lana reaches out to her audience with optimism and faith in the present and future generations to come. In her first verse, “Look at you kids with your vintage music”, Lana speaks of the irony of youths today listening to music from the 20th century through means that did not exist at the time “comin’ through satellites while cruisin’”. Encountering a world of rapid technological and social change, Lana refers to the internal conflicts of nostalgia as teenagers are constantly confronted by varied ideas on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, televised news, politicians and family values. It’s difficult for today’s youth to find stability, truth, clarity and peace amidst such chaos.
2. LUST FOR LIFE
The context behind Lust for Life is the suicide of young Hollywood actress Peg Entwistle who tragically jumped off the “H” of the Hollywood sign in 1932 after suffering depression due to a failed career in acting. Lana addresses the illusion of Hollywood as perfect. Symbolised by the repetition of her being on “the H of the Hollywood sign” within the song itself and in the music video, Lana reflects a new perspective of the Hollywood industry causing her to gain a desire to live a life away from the spotlight and to become her true self once again. Lust for Life does not necessarily promote suicide but rather calls for individuals to delve themselves into moments of being by stripping themselves away from layers of superficialities and glitz (just as she lets go of a red ribbon in her in the music video) and to simply live life as ourselves.
3. BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE BEAUTIFUL PROBLEMS
Another of Lana Del Rey’s most moving pieces, featuring Stevie Nicks, is Beautiful People Beautiful Problems where she speaks of deep love and peace sought by the human experience within a world of war and hatred. The song opens with: “Blue is the colour of the planet from the view above Long live our reign, long live our love Green is the planet from the eyes of a turtle dove ‘Til it runs red, runs red with blood”- as a turtle dove, a symbol of peace, observes the beauty of our planet, war and murder disrupts such tranquility. After enduring the chaos of everyday life “we get so tired and we complain” about how hard it is to live but in reality, life is “more than just a video game” that does not pause or gain more lives when we desire. Rather, the real world has real problems that must be endured and overcome by “beautiful people” who have the capacity to demonstrate love and live life to the fullest.
I personally adore Lana’s music- every element and lyric is so captivating. I find her unique and personal style so powerful that it is able to transport listeners to another universe of deep emotion and reflection on the vulnerability and beauty of humankind. I would recommend anyone if they haven’t yet to listen to her music including her earlier masterpieces (including Born to Die, Ultraviolence and Honeymoon albums). She does stand apart from many artists today but Lana definitely is one of a kind who dares to artistically and intimately share her personal thoughts and fascinations with her audience.