It doesn't matter if I'm not enough for the future or things to come, because I'm young and in love.
Lana Del Rey (born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant) needs no formal introduction. She is legendary - despite not having had more than one radio hit - and has become an integral part of the Gen Z and Millennial mythos. She is both completely transparent and totally mysterious.
Her music is timeless and socially transcendental, harkening back to the past, existing in the present, while glimpsing into the future. When asked to describe her music, I usually describe it as being uniquely American in it’s eclecticism, embodying the feelings that have permeated the air in the United States in decades past. Often pressed to clarify which decade, I struggle. It is not just one, or a few, but it is many. “Tomorrow Never Came,” which features the son of Beatles legend John Lennon, masterfully recreates the feeling of the 1960’s, while "Summer Bummer" is so quintessentially modern.
When she first broke into the public awareness, with her viral homemade video for "Video Games" back in 2012, she was known for her brooding yet beautiful negativity. Songs like "Dark Paradise" and "This Is What Makes Us Girls" were women in a dreamlike dimension, yet grounded firmly and uncomfortably in reality.
This tone, fundamentally, didn't change: Her following albums were all bummers, too. But in the March of 2017, something different happened: Lana released "Love," the lead single off of her forthcoming album Lust for Life - both titles in stark contrast to previous works such as Born to Die and Ultraviolence. For the first time in her career, she smiled on her album cover. Lana was experiencing a period of change - personally and professionally. She is ready to be happy.
Love, is it real love?
It's like smiling while the firing squads against you
And you just stay lined up
There's a change gonna come, I don't know where or when, but whenever it does, we'll be here for it.
"Change," the final song written and recorded for the album, discusses these shifts. Years from now, the album will likely be seen as a seminal moment in her career: "I want to move out of the black and into the blue."
Another notable change on this record: It's not just her. Lana has always been an elusive collaborator, only ever appearing on other artist's songs - never allowing them to tread on her own. For Lana, her albums have been a way for her to tell her story privately, without other opinions or viewpoints obfuscating her truth. So, that being said, it was shocking when she had not just one featured vocalist on this album, but five.
- The Weeknd on "Lust for Life"
- Stevie Nicks on "Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems"
- Sean Ono Lennon on "Tomorrow Never Came"
- Playboi Carti on "Summer Bummer"
- A$AP Rocky on "Group Love" and "Summer Bummer"
We also see Lana taking on a more political tone in this album. There's a string of politically motivated songs (ranging from her opinion on US President Donald Trump to the state of affairs in North Korea) beginning with "Coachella - Woodstock In My Mind." "I’m not gonna lie," Del Rey said, "I had complex feelings about spending the weekend dancing whilst watching tensions with North Korea mount." In the song, she acknowledges her powerlessness in international political affairs, and a desire for that reality to change. She contrasts her own life - the luxury of being a famous musician - to the lives being lived by those at the mercy of North Korea's cruel dictatorship.
Maybe my contribution could be as small as hoping
That words could turn to birds
And birds would send my thoughts your way
Blue is the color of the planet from the view above. Long live our reign, long live our love.
Songs like "Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems," which features the inimitable Stevie Nicks, showcase Lana's acute ability to get complex emotions across using simple words and phrases - painting these magnificent landscapes of words and thoughts.
This is my commitment - my modern manifesto. I'm doing it for all of us who never got the chance.
Lust for Life, for the first time, sounds like Lana as she is today, unshackled from the history of who she was. Her past record, primarily, felt like very specific moments in time. And, to say the least, we totally love it! This record has gotten better with time, and will be remembered for years to come. Lust for Life will likely be viewed as a transitional period of Lana's career, due to the nature and intent of the record's content, it is safe to assume that the album she puts out next will be inherently different than the ones she had put out before. You can bet that we’re excited to see what Lana has been cooking up in the studio with Jack Antonoff and Marina Diamandis these past few weeks.