20. Summer Sadness (2012)
Seemingly inspired by a friend’s suicide and remixed by Cédric Gervais into the rarest thing – a party-starting Lana Del Rey banger – Summertime Sadness was a hook-laden climax to her second album Born to Die, later becoming key text in the #prettywhenyoucry “sad girl” aesthetic that Del Rey inadvertently spawned.
19. High on the Beach (2015)
High By the Beach sounds superbly: scintillating organ, synth wash with exhausted sonorities, a trap rhythm which seems to have been emptied of all its boastful machismo. It fits perfectly with the song’s mood of weariness, an early sign of its author’s distrust of his stardom: “I can’t survive if that’s all that’s real.”
18. Blue Ramps (2021)
There was a time when Lana Del Rey singing about driving a tractor in Oklahoma wouldn’t have seemed more likely than Lana Del Rey doing a Hokey Cokey cover, but here we are. Even by its most recent standards, the music here is minimal, which only adds to the song’s vibe of creeping disquiet.
17. Norman fucks Rockwell (2019)
It’s hard not to be acclaimed by the lyrics of Norman Fucking Rockwell: after countless songs in which she has pledged eternal loyalty to a terrible-sounding character, he delivers the sound of Lana Del Rey saying to one of between them where to get off in pleasantly direct terms. . Also: fantastic chorus.
16. Wild at Heart (2021)
It was probably only a matter of time before Lana Del Rey named a song after a David Lynch movie – Lynch’s 80s collaborations with singer Julee Cruise were clearly a major influence from the start. . Wild at Heart is a stark, hazy imagination of a world without Lana Del Rey: an escape fantasy from fame.
15. Terrence Loves You (2015)
Lana Del Rey’s favorite song in Honeymoon, apparently because it was “jazzy”. It’s jazzy in the sense that a torch song is jazzy, but – beyond the dry, reverb-heavy guitars reminiscent of Mazzy Star – the most obvious influence is the theme from John Barry’s Midnight Cowboy, taken from in the beautiful descending vocal melody.
14. Lust for Life (ft. the Weeknd) (2014)
Like Mary C Brown and Dory Previn’s Hollywood panel, Lust for Life is haunted by the 1932 suicide of failed actor Peg Entwhistle: like the relentless pulsating synthesizer in the background, allusions to it add a dark undertow to what initially looked like bullish assertions. strength of Del Rey and Abel Tesfaye: “We are masters of our destiny.
13. Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me – but I have it (2019)
A cynic might suggest that, from its title to its lyrics (“24/7 Sylvia Plath,” “spreading my guts with Bowery’s butt is the only love I’ve ever known”), it’s a wavering song. on the verge of self-parody. But it’s hard to be cynical while he’s playing – just a piano and a voice, it’s the epitome of elegant simplicity.
12. National Anthem (2012)
Lana Del Rey’s heyday in Stepford-Wife-as-pop-star mode, the National Anthem launches her pristine vocals delivering satirical lyrics of sex and materialism – “Money is what we exist for, everything everyone knows” – against the jarring musical euphoria: a sky-scratching chorus, a string arrangement with a hint of Bitter Sweet Symphony.
11. Sailors’ Apartment Complex (2018)
With his song titles borrowed from Neil Young and his lyrical nods to Joni Mitchell, Norman Fucking Rockwell! is an album immersed in the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter scene of the late ’60s, an inspiration that finds full expression on Mariners Apartment Complex, a beautifully brooding and chilling update of said scene’s folk style.
10. West Coast (2014)
The first evidence of Ultraviolence’s sonic shift – aided by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys – into more guitar-driven territory: the opening riff is equal parts Atomic by Blondie and And I Love Her by the Beatles, the lyrics an homage to a mythologized California, the abrupt slowing down of the tempo which announces the chorus is fabulous.
9. Black swimsuit (2021)
Lana Del Rey’s lockdown song, which captures something of the lockdown experience being dispersed impressively. The lyrics jump without warning from posturing (“Let me show you how bad girls are”) to tearful confessional (“I’m not friends with my mother”), the music exquisitely controlling – the tempo changes in the chorus – to unraveling and chaotic.
8. White Dress (2021)
Tellingly, Lana Del Rey’s songs went from fetish stardom and success to yearning for a life without either. A spiritual distant cousin of Joni Mitchell’s For Free – which she covered – White Dress hints that she was happiest as a waitress or an unknown singer: ironically, it was on the kind of irresistible melody that propelled her Chemtrails Over the Country Club album at number 1.
7. Love (2017)
An ambiguous ode to youth: the lyrical message is be-young-be-crazy-be-happy but the tone of voice coldly indifferent, there is something notoriously disturbing in the music. How you take it probably depends on your age, but there’s no arguing with the power of the air, or the sweet reference to the Beach Boys’ troubled ballad, Don’t Worry Baby.
6. Ride (2012)
Released following the success of Born to Die – and appended to the Paradise Edition deluxe edition of the album – Ride was produced by Rick Rubin and soaked in strings, but underneath lies a supremely classy country-soul song : for someone whose vocal abilities were mocked early on, Del Rey’s octave-hopping performance is nervously powerful.
5. The Greatest (2019)
Shortly after the release of Norman Fucking Rockwell!, Lana Del Rey shared a Rolling Stone cover featuring Elton John. You can hear his influence on The Greatest, a beautifully elegiac song that might have ended up on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: his all-fucked vibe – “I want everything to feel like it used to” – however, it’s pure Trump -era America.
4. Brooklyn Baby (2014)
Self-baited autobiography or bitchy hipster character assassination? It’s not clear, and maybe it doesn’t matter: just bask in the faded melody of Brooklyn Baby, the beautiful moments when the beat stops, leaving only Del Rey, a high-pitched guitar and the hum of an amplifier. Lou Reed was supposed to sing backing vocals, but died on the day of the session.
3. Young and Beautiful (2013)
Hands down, the best thing about Baz Luhrmann’s star-studded The Great Gatsby, Young and Beautiful soundtrack is Lana Del Rey at her most haunting. Co-opted by rather than commissioned for the film, his saga of ephemeral youth and fame fits his story perfectly, the melody is exquisite.
2. female dog of Venice (2018)
Lasting almost 10 minutes, Venice Bitch hypnotizes the listener for its entire duration. It subtly shifts from tender folk rock – replete with references to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s 1970 Deja Vu album – to a heady swirl of synthesizer and guitar feedback, to a chorus based on Tommy’s Crimson and Clover James. It’s expansive, experimental and enveloping: a triumph.
1. Video Games (2011)
With Lana Del Rey a consistent and influential presence in pop over the past decade, it’s easy to forget just how striking her first appearance was. She’s written countless fantastic songs since, but Video Games is the kind of song unique in a career that stops you dead in your tracks: the slowly building chords, the dark beat, the unsettling combination of romance and dread. of the lyrics, the glassy-eyed vocals, the feeling that it was totally unlike anything in pop at the time. As far as presentations of a new pop phenomenon go, it just might be the best of the past 20 years: the passage of time has done nothing to dull its potency.