Written by: Alexandria Smith, Special to CC2K
I’m pretty certain that I’m not the only person who, upon hearing Lana Del Rey’s single Video Games – which had effortlessly launched itself to the top of the ‘net this past summer – furrowed my brow and practically screamed, “What is THIS?!” before shutting it off and writing her off in my mind. I’m also certain that I’m also not the only person that gave her music another shot at a later date – and fell in love.
Now, that is not to say that I haven’t felt this way about other artists, or that my instantaneous love of musicians would not alarm the average person. There have been several musicians, bands, and groups that I have stumbled upon and fallen in love with, blindly and without so much as a second thought, because of a simple element.
In the case of Lana del Rey, it was her sweeping, smokey high alto, intricate piano melodies, thumping drum sequences. However, nothing captured my heart more than her lyrics. “I even think I found God / in the flash bulbs of the pretty cameras.” Just as it was for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, del Rey (originally Elizabeth Woolridge Grant) encapsulates a certain sadness that is both persistent and jagged (an aspect that easily attracted the budding writer within me). “They all think I have it all. / I’ve nothing without you. / All my dreams and all the lights mean / nothing without you”.
From Blue Jeans to Dark Paradise, Radio, to Without You, only four of twenty three tracks found on Born To Die: The Paradise Edition, Lana del Rey does not fail to deliver aggregate harmonies over dream like melodies of guitar, drum beat, piano, keyboard, even the rare cry of a violin – all tinged with an unmistakable sadness. And not in a cheesy way, but in a throbbing hit-you-deep-in-the-chest kind of way, particularly in Summertime Sadness, where she recalls the ecstatic, spontaneous moments with a lover and then the end of the relationship that once made her feel so invincible – all with a perspective that flits back and forth, back and forth.
There is such a truthfulness and honest pain behind her words and in her voice that I can’t deny. Perhaps if you were like me and immediately wrote her off, you’ll give her another look and find something you never thought was there.