At some point in 2011 I realised that it's okay to not be a music snob, that it was okay to like music that wasn't necessarily aimed at my demographic. I mean, I've always had a fairly unique taste in music and I have always had a number of 'guilty pleasures'. As has everyone........yes, even YOU!
Although she had been writing music under various aliases prior to this, it was on August 19th, 2011 that she dropped the video for 'Video Games' to her YouTube channel. It was written about how Lana watched her then-boyfriend play video games, she stated that the inspiration for the song came from him, commenting, "I think we came together because we were both outsiders. It was perfect. But I think with that contentment also comes sadness. There was something heavenly about that life – we'd go to work and he'd play his video games – but also it was maybe too regular. She has stated that it's a statement about her putting her musical career on hold for him. When creating the song, Del Rey had no plans for it to be released as a single, as she assumed it would struggle to gain traction.
"Feet don’t fail me now/ Take me to the finish line/ Oh my heart, it breaks every step that I take" - Born To Die
Well whatever the reasons for the content, the video and it's accidental release it changed her life, and mine.
Since then her songwriting, her voice and her image have created a genre all of it's own. Nobody writes songs like Lana Del Rey. Nobody captures the fragility of life like Lana Del Rey. And for sure nobody has the iconic beauty of Lana Del Rey.
I'm hooked. There are few artists that I genuinely get excited about upcoming releases but she is definitely one. At the time of writing this piece she has just dropped 'Mariners Apartment Complex' and 'Venice Bitch' whilst announcing her new album Norman Fucking Rockwell will be released early 2019.
Why The Addiction Though?
My musical history has been dominated by icons like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, David Bowie, Madonna and Prince, and let's be honest there aren't many 'icons' left in music now. So perhaps when Lana Del Rey came along I got the sense that she was the icon the new generation have long craved. She has the talent, she has the songs and she has the image.
I've read hundreds of reviews of her music that suggest her lyrics "speak to a generation of teenage girls", which on the one hand is awesome, but it's also making light of some of the incredible depth her songs have. She covers everything from the usual heartbreak and love right through to drug addiction, dying young and what the fuck life is all about. I'm in my 40's and I still don't have a clue.
The next reason are her videos, which in themselves are a thing of beauty. They are short films, most of which manage to take you on a journey through time and give you a real insight in to the mind of Del Rey. She captures a lot of imagery on old cine film which gives more gravitas to her story and again show the inner workings of her creativity. It honestly wouldn't surprise me if film roles and/or directing are on the horizon.
It can't go unwritten that her beauty is another reason for many peoples's Lana addiction. As I've said before she has movie star looks, but old school, not enhanced, not false, just natural. So yes of course this adds to the mystique.
When Norman Fucking Rockwell lands early next year it will be her sixth studio album (seventh if you include Sirens from her previous incarnation). All of them unique, all of them a piece of art that can be revisited time and time again.
Lana Del Rey (2010)
Born To Die (2012)
Lust For Life (2017)
Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019)
14 awards from 57 nominations since her major label debut, including winning an Ivor Novello Award for "Best Contemporary Song" with her single 'Video Games', in 2012.
Received Grammy Award nominations for "Best Pop Vocal Album" with 'Paradise', and "Best Song Written for Visual Media" with "Young and Beautiful" in 2014.
In 2015, Del Rey won the MTV Europe Music Award for "Best Alternative", and in November, 2015, she was honoured the "Trailblazer" Award provided by the Billboard Women in Music Awards.
In February, 2016, she received the "Best Female Artist of the Year" award from The Elle Style Awards by Elle magazine. Her fifth studio album, Lust for Life earned her a second Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2018 Grammy Awards.
Lana Del Rey not only has a dreamy sound to her voice, she also has a huge vocal range. It is an expansive contralto vocal range, which spans three-plus octaves and has been described as captivating and highly emotive, being able to transcend from sounding high and girlish in her timbre, down to a low and jazzy sound with great ease, although both these areas of the voice can be conflicting in the contrast of their sound, initially polarising opinion.
"Down on the West Coast, they got a sayin'/ 'If you're not drinkin', then you're not playin'" - West Coast
I get that. I understand that it's not to everybody's taste but there aren't many artists that can boast such a vocal capacity. I can also forgive her occasional underwhelming live performances, it's just the nature of her style. The vast majority of time she is bang on, but as with any muscle sometimes her voice gets fatigued and in need of rest.
She is undeniably cool, you just have to watch one of her music videos to have that confirmed. It's not an act either, having seen her live she carries that vulnerable retro-cool image all the way and does it like nobody else. It's easy to see how influenced she is by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley but she still manages to make it her own.
Anyway, that's it. The reasons why this old man has a weird obsession with Lana Del Rey. Yes I'm way out of place at her gigs, no her songs aren't written for my demographic and yes as a music lover I am opening myself to ridicule. But do you think I care?