September Artist – Lana Del Rey (Part 1)
This post is part of my Deep Dive Music Project. This month I’m listening to some music by Lana Del Rey. Be sure to check out the Lana Del Rey playlist I have on Spotify. Note: Chemtrails Over The Country Club wasn’t released when this post was first published, but I have added it to this playlist. This post has all my thoughts about the music I’ve listened to this month, and is broken up into three parts including this one. Click on a link below if you’d like to read another section.
For this first post for the Deep Dive Music Project, I want to clarify a few things. The order I’ve chosen to feature the artists on this project isn’t some official ranking. I’m not doing that. I don’t even know if I’ll rank the albums or songs I’ll be listening to (that seems way too intimidating). However, I’ve decided to feature the artists with the shorter discographies in the shorter months. Not that I’ll be able to listen to 97 Johnny Cash albums in a 31 day month, but putting the artists with a shorter discography in the shorter months seems less intimidating to me. My goal is to listen to about 7 albums (changed from 8 to 10 because that’s insane) unless the artist has less than 7 albums and then I’ll listen to each album (if possible).
Before starting this project I asked for album and song recommendations on Instagram. I’d like to thank my friend and visual artist Rose for her Lana Del Rey song recommendations.
The Lana Del Rey Songs I Kind Of Know
I wanted to start every month by giving a brief overview of the songs/albums by the artist I’m featuring for the month that I kind of know. For Lana Del Rey I know a few of her songs, but they’re pretty much all from her 2012 album Born to Die. The Lana Del Rey songs I kind of know are
- Summertime Sadness (which was the first song of hers I heard)
- Blue Jeans
- Video Games
- Born to Die
- National Anthem
I’ve also heard “Doin’ Time” from her 2019 album Norman Fucking Rockwell on the radio. And I’ve heard her song “Young and Beautiful” for The Great Gatsby soundtrack, though the first version of that song I heard was a cover from music collective Postmodern Jukebox. I’ve also heard her cover of the song “Once Upon A Dream” used for some trailers for the movie Maleficent.
As I listen to the Lana Del Rey discography I might come across a song and go “oh yeah I’ve heard that.” For now just looking at the tracklist of her albums those are the only songs of hers I can say I know for sure.
Before I start diving into the discography for the artists I’ve chosen I want to give a rundown of the impression I get of their music and their work. This may or may not be accurate. The point of this isn’t for me to tell you, “this is definitely what this artist’s music is/will be like” but for me to see if these impressions are correct as I go along. They may or may not be.
From the limited amount of Lana Del Rey songs I know I get the impression that she’s talented and willing to take risks in her career. I have a feeling each of her albums are different from each other. There’s a sense of nostalgia in her songs that I’ve heard and a version of fernweh (a German word with no direct translation but is a sense of missing a place you’ve never been to). The songs of hers I’ve heard (with the exception of her cover of “Once Upon a Dream”) seem to have a version of fernweh but for a period of time as well as a place, like 1960s Hollywood.
I also feel Lana Del Rey takes after (in some regard) to what I call the Kate Bush school of songwriting. Kate Bush is an English singer-songwriter who has been around since the late 70s (though I first heard her music around 2013). One thing that struck me about Kate Bush was how (particularly in her earlier work) she writes songs from various perspectives. Her songs aren’t necessarily about her life or viewpoint (some are, but many aren’t). She often has songs from many different viewpoints and characters (in an abstract way). She also frequently uses works from other mediums (film, television, books, etc) to inform her songwriting.
There are some artists that definitely use their own personal experiences to inform their music, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Kate Bush was the first music artist that I really got into where I realized, “oh this song isn’t about her or her personal life experience.” I learned that music doesn’t have to be a reflection of an artist’s life or viewpoint. Music and songs can be more abstract. Before getting into Kate Bush I always thoughts a song was either some personal diary entry where the artist shares their feelings about a particular topic, or some impersonal and generic song about partying or dancing. I should clarify; I’m not saying Kate Bush was the first/only artist to do this, but she’s the first artist where this really clicked in my brain that, “music does not necessarily equal a personal diary of life experiences.”
From the songs of Lana Del Rey’s I’ve heard I don’t think of them as, “wow this is definitely a personal experience she’s had and now she’s catharting out this song because all songwriters have to write from personal experience.” I’m sure there are more personal songs she has, but it doesn’t seem like this is her entire identity. It’s kind of like reading a book of fiction and realizing the story isn’t actually something that has happened to the author.
These are just my preliminary impressions of Lana Del Rey from the limited amount of songs of hers I’ve heard. We’ll see if any of these are accurate.
The Lana Del Rey Albums I’m Listening To This Month
According to Wikipedia Lana Del Rey has 6 studio albums with the 7th album slated to be released on September 5. I didn’t realize this before I picked Lana Del Rey but seeing as this isn’t more than 7 albums I should be able to listen to all of them. I’ll be listening to her albums in chronological order.
There is an exception. I’m using Spotify to listen to the music for this project, Lana Del Rey’s first self-titled studio album released in 2010 is not available on Spotify. It was released on iTunes apparently, but the only Apple product I have (a 2010 MacBook) no longer works. Instead, I will be starting with her 2012 album Born to Die for this project. If her album Chemtrails Over the Country Club is released as it’s scheduled on September 5 I’ll listen to that as well.
The Lana Del Rey albums I’m listening to are
- Born to Die – Paradise Edition (2012 Special Version)
- Ultraviolence (2014 – Deluxe Edition)
- Honeymoon (2015)
- Lust For Life (2017)
- Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019)
- Chemtrails Over the Country Club (2020)
After that if there’s time I’ll listen to any one-off singles not featured in the albums above. I may also try to check out her non-music work if there’s. I know she released a book of poetry earlier this year called Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass, which I may read.
I am going to try to delve into as many Lana Del Rey songs as I can over the next week and a bit, and go from there. See you on the other side.
What’s your favourite album or song by Lana Del Rey?