Lana Del Rey, A.K.A. Lizzy Grant
Lana Del Rey (born June 21, 1986) is a highly divisive
American singer and model. Originally recording under her (real) name, Lizzy Grant, to little success, she later created her current Lana Del Rey persona
after being inspired by her frequent visits to Miami
, and wanting a name she could "shape the music towards". Also, she just liked the way it sounded
Essentially, Del Rey made the error of cultivating an "indie
" audience before branching into pop
, a fate which has befallen singers such as Liz Phair
and many others.
After settling on her new name, Lana posted a few songs (with accompanying, DIY music videos made on her Mac) to YouTube
. One song in particular, "Video Games", caught the attention of many music blogs and critics alike. To capitalize on the sudden interest of the track, Lana released "Video Games" (with a b-side
, "Blue Jeans") as a single on Stranger Records in October 2011, and it became a Sleeper Hit
all across Europe. Not long afterwards, Lana was signed to Interscope Records, and her (major label) debut Born to Die
was released worldwide in January 2012. For a relative unknown like Lana, it actually sold pretty well in its first week; she even managed to knock Adele
off the top spot in many countries, including the UK
and eventually went platinum. Defines her music as Sadcore pop.
- As Lizzy Grant:
- As Lana Del Rey:
The artist formerly known as Lizzy Grant provides examples of:
- Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: "C U L8r Alligator". Just the title itself, though.
- Affably Evil: Most, if not all of the men she ever brings up. Their being "affable" might be a case of Unreliable Narrator, though:
's a friend of mine / I think about him as he does time [...] Double homicide, sent him on to death row / Not to hang around, though"
- The Alcoholic: In her youth, when she was just 14. "Bad Disease" is especially frank about her subsequent time of recovery.
- Artist Disillusionment: She has mentioned how she doesn't feel safe on stage, doesn't need to say anything more musically and she would rather work in movies/endorsements. According to her recent interview with Vogue Australia magazine she said:
- " When I was starting, I had a vision of being a writer for film and that's what I am doing now. I'm so happy. That will be my happy place. I'd like to stay in one place for a long time."
- "I love to take care of the songs – that's my natural place – then, when I get on stage that's not my element. Sometimes I kneel down because I am trembling, or touch the audience because I don't know what else to do. I don't think I'll write another record. What would it say? Everything I wanted to say, I've said already
- Auto Erotica: In "Diet Mountain Dew":
"Let's take Jesus off the dashboard / Got enough on his mind"
"Baby stoppin' at 7-Eleven / There in his white Pontiac heaven"
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: "Born To Die", "Blue Jeans" and "Diet Mountain Dew" on Born To Die. Most of her work is centered around this trope, all the same.
- Anti-Love Song: "Lolita", being called Lolita.
"I want my cake and I want to eat it too / I want to have fun and be in love with you"
- "Serial Killer" as well.
- "Live or Die".
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Boarding School" has Lana telling us the following:
"If you wanna get high with me / I'm in the back, doing crack, drinking P-P-Pepsi"
- Ax-Crazy: "Kinda Outta Luck."
- Badass Boast: "Noir" opens with this line:
"Walking is an art / So is my body"
- Better by a Different Name: Literally, because Del Rey originally had a contract under the name Lizzy Grant and many fans were skeptical when she became Lana Del Rey.
- Boastful Rap: Quite, in the chorus of "Delicious":
"They're disgusting, I'm delicious / They disgust me, I'm delicious / Let's discuss this, I'm delicious"
- Break Up Song: "Video Games", "Blue Jeans", "Dark Paradise", and "Summertime Sadness" from Born To Die.
- "Pawn Shop Blues" and "Brite Lites" from Lana Del Ray.
- "Afraid", "Break My Fall", "Butterflies (Part 1)", "Damn You", and "Dum Dum" from her unreleased catalogue.
- Broken Bird: Think of one genuinely positive song with no darkness whatsoever in her whole discography.
- Call Back: A lot of her songs reference each other. Most notable are the quintet of "1949", "Every Man Gets His Wish", "Hawaiian Tropic", "Heartshaped Chevrolet", and "Daytona Meth" — all five songs borrow elements from each other, but manage to not feel like a succession of demos.
- "Young and Beautiful" contains the lyric "I've seen the world, done it all, had my cake now" referring back to "I want my cake and I want to eat it too" from "Lolita".
- Camp: Tropico.
- Celebrity Endorsement: H&M and Jaguar have utilized her music and her looks for promotional purposes.
- The Chanteuse: Her record label specifically built her up to resemble a sultry lounge singer.
- Her role in the "Blue Velvet" video, due to the song being a vintage cover.
- Cannot Spit It Out: A subtext in "National Anthem"
- Cluster F-Bomb: "Scarface", wherein Lana drops the F-bomb about 8 times in the chorus alone — not counting the backing vocals. It amounts to something like 20 times over the course of 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Coming of Age Story: The "Ride" music video, with it about one of her "happy times" where she finally got to see the world.
- Corpsing: She lets a giggle slip during the last chorus of "Elvis", quite appropriately:
*imitating Elvis' accent*
"Thank you very much, and I'm laughing!"
- "Moi Je Joue" and "Maha Maha" both have Lana chuckling as each track fades out.
- "Stoplight De-lite" also has a giggling outro, although this seems premeditated as opposed to just thrown in.
- The Cover Changes The Gender: Averted with "Blue Velvet", where Lana kept all the original lyrics, including "she wore blue velvet".
- Also averted with "Chelsea Hotel No. 2".
- The Cover Changes The Meaning: Her version of "Once Upon a Dream" is definitely not the wistful love song it was originally written as.
- Cover Version: Of "Once Upon a Dream" for Maleficent.
- Lana has also published covers of Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel No. 2" (as mentioned above) and Lee Hazlewood's "Summer Wine" on her personal YouTube channel.
- Creator Backlash: According to Word of God, Lana wasn't satisfied with the production of "This Is What Makes Us Girls" and consequently, has never performed it live.
- Cute and Psycho: The narrator of "Kinda Outta Luck." Cutesy tone, cheery melody, sung by the very cute Lana... depraved, disturbing lyrics.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Lana has mentioned having had alcohol problems when she was only 14 years old. She was sent to boarding school, which she loathed even more than her addiction, for it.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: "Burning Desire" mentions this.
"I drive fast, radio blast / Have to touch myself to pretend you're there"
- Dear Negative Reader: Lana has been known to... respond to her detractors on social media sites.
- Dedication: Based on their titles: "Dear Elliot", "For K" and "For You". "Jimmy Gnecco" might also count, even as that's more of an Obsession Song.
- "You're Gonna Love Me" has an outright declaration, on the other hand:
"Jim, I'mma dedicate this whole album to you..."
- Deliberately Monochrome: The music video for "Blue Jeans".
- Destructive Romance: Heavily implied in "Diet Mountain Dew". The demo is more blatant:
"Hit me my darling tonight / I don't know why but I like it"
- Driven to Suicide: "Born To Die", "Summertime Sadness", and "Dark Paradise".
- Dye Hard: She's a natural blonde.
- Electra Complex: She mentions the word "daddy" in several of her songs. This is possibly because she prefers older men (often called "daddies" by the people attracted to them).
- She has a song called "Daddy Issues", for that matter.
- Epic Rocking: "Off To The Races" (lots of lyrics and a thirty-second instrumental ending) and "Yayo" (slow tempo and subdued songs) go over 5 minutes. Most of her other songs are under four minutes.
- Another example is "Raise Me Up (Mississippi South)".
- Even the Girls Want Her: The mysterious young starlet from "Carmen".
- Ethereal Choir: "National Anthem", "Young and Beautiful".
- Fangirl: She has claimed to love "the greats of every genre", citing Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Elvis Presley (about whom she even wrote a song!) as inspirations.
- Britney Spears, too. This can be heard in tracks like like "Lolita", "Diet Mountain Dew", "Burning Desire", "Ride" and "National Anthem".
- Jimmy Gnecco was an infatuation of hers at some point, leading to the creation of "Jimmy Gnecco".
- Femme Fatale: A common "role" attributed to Lana, but taken and ran with in "Playing Dangerous", where she sings from the perspective of a woman being held for questioning.
- "Kinda Outta Luck" is told from the point of view of one.
- Genre Roulette: Having begun her musical career for real sometime in 2005, Lana has managed to go through a whole lot of genres in search of "her" sound.
- Sirens (2006) is all-acoustic — as are most of the webcam demos she made in the interrim between this album and Lana Del Ray.
- Lana Del Ray (recorded in 2008, released in 2010) is "surf noir" according to Lana herself. A lot (if not all) of her unreleased 2009 tracks fall into this genre, too.
- 2010 saw Lana taking a quick detour into pop music, before she settled for some kind of medium between the "surf noir" of Lana Del Ray and the sadcore of Born To Die in 2011.
- Born To Die and Paradise (both 2012) are both considered sadcore — or rather, "Hollywood sadcore".
- All of her unreleased tracks from 2012 onward are recognized as sadcore too, although her 2013 work is a lot calmer than the orchestral, if still sedated sound of Born To Die and Paradise.
- Genre Shift: As detailed above, Lana had to go through a lot of genres before finding her niche and demographic with Born To Die's sadcore.
- 2009 seemed an eventful year in general, as far as her escapades in the studio went. Just compare Maha Maha, Golden Grill and Catch and Release. For reference, these are all from one session with Princess Superstar.
- Good Bad Girl: Subverted in "Kinda Outta Luck". The first 1:20 are spent building a "Good Bad Girl with bad self esteem getting rescued by Prince Charming" kind of narrative... and then... oops.
- Otherwise played straight with most of her work — "St. Tropez" and "Backfire" are good examples.
- "This Is What Makes Us Girls", too.
- Gratuitous French: Featured in "Carmen", and more prominently in "Moi Je Joue":
- Grief Song: Heavily implied in "Dark Paradise":
"I'm scared that you won't be waiting on the other side"
"Your soul is haunting me and telling me / That everything is fine / But I wish I was dead"
- "Kill Kill"
- "TV in Black & White"
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Quite a common theme of hers, but especially prevalent in "Hundred Dollar Bill".
- If I Can't Have You: "Jealous Girl
- I Have Many Names: Hoo, boy. In rough, chronological order (besides Lana Del Rey):
"You my little sparkle jump rope queen / You my little sparkle"
- It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: She said in an interview with Complex Magazine that she once had to correct a fan's pronunciation of her name, which she says is "Lon-ah".
- Intercourse with You: "Burning Desire" is pretty heavily sexual, as is "Gods & Monsters" on her Paradise EP. Born To Die has "Diet Mountain Dew" talking about showing her what fast is.
- Very much the subject of both "Push Me Down" and "Behind Closed Doors".
- Kind of a subtext in "Dance Man":
"You've got me dancing up the stairs now, man..."
- Lolicon: "Put Me In A Movie".
- Despite the title, "Lolita" doesn't actually mention this at all, although there's a vague implication of it.
- Love Nostalgia Song: "Blue Jeans", "Dark Paradise", and "Summertime Sadness".
- "Young and Beautiful" and "Back to tha Basics" too, although the latter isn't as bittersweet as the others.
- "My Best Days" and "You & Me", as well.
- "TV in Black & White", which also doubles as a Grief Song.
- Love Is A Drug: Pretty explicitly in almost all the tracks on the Paradise EP.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Lucky Ones" has an extremely dark instrumental for one of her happiest love songs lyrically.
- Madness Mantra: In "Raise Me Up (Mississippi South)":
"Ray, Ray, Ray — raise me up!"
"Give it to me, give it to me, everything / You know how I like my world on a string"
- May-December Romance: "Off to the Races".
- Melismatic Vocals: Del Rey uses plenty of flourishes in her voice.
- Notable examples of this are "Off To The Races" and "Million Dollar Man".
- Money Song: "National Anthem", and "Radio".
- "Hundred Dollar Bill" and "Money Hunny" as well.
- "Hollywood" combines this with Call Backs to Paradise and preemptive Badass Boasting:
"One day I'll drive in a gold Mercedes Benz / Singing opera on Bel Air Road"
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Born to Die is a mixture of rock, pop, orchestral, R&B, alternative, and hip-hop.
- Most people just consider it sadcore, though.
- Non-Appearing Title: She has a lot of these.
- Obsession Song: "Born To Die", "National Anthem", "Without You", "Dark Paradise", and the vast majority of the Paradise EP.
- Ode to Intoxication: As mentioned above, this is the "theme" for most of the Paradise EP.
- Outlaw Couple: "Off To The Races".
'My old man is a thief, and I'm gonna stay and pray with him till the end...'
- Power of Friendship: "This Is What Makes Us Girls".
- Precision F-Strike: A couple.
"In the land of gods and monsters, I was an angel / Looking to get fucked hard"
- "Tired of Singing the Blues":
"I keep running 'round the same town, knocking you down / I'm fucked"
"I pray your life is sweet, you fucker / Damn you"
- Rearrange the Song: The live version of "National Anthem" combines elements of the unreleased demo with the final album version.
- Recurring Character: "K", "Jimmy" and "Bill" are mentioned in quite a few of her songs. However, it's unclear whether they're fictitious or actual people Lana knew.
- "Jimmy" is Jimmy Gnecco, according to observations made by fans.
- Revealing Coverup: Once, in a 2010 interview, Lana mentioned a certain Mr. Campbell — who apparently introduced her to Nirvana. After fans inferred that Mr. Campbell was the subject of Lana's various Teacher/Student Romance songs, he turned into Mrs. Campbell when brought up in another interview, a year later. Quoth "Prom Song (Gone Wrong)":
"You played me Biggie Smalls / And then my first Nirvana song"
- Rock Star Song: She mostly mocks this trope in "Carmen", "Lolita", "Gods & Monsters", "Ride" and "Radio".
- Rapunzel Hair: Her hair is extremely long.
- Rhyming with Itself: "Yayo" rhymes "now" with "now".
- Road Trip Romance: "On Our Way" and "1949".
- To a lesser degree in "Driving in Cars with Boys", despite the title.
- Romanticized Abuse: From "Beautiful Player":
"Hit me and it felt like a kiss / You know it hurts so good when you do me like this"
- Doubles as a Shout-Out to the 1962 song "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)" by The Crystals.
- Sampling: Goes on a lot. Notable examples:
- Most of the songs from Born To Die — and some from Paradise — sample Rick James performing "Mary Jane" live.
- "Born To Die" itself samples Mountain performing "Long Red" live, for that matter.
- One of the "Lolita" demos is De Kift's "Blind" with extra instrumentation and Lana's vocals.
- Shout-Out: A whole bunch of 'em to Lolita:
- The song "Lolita".
- As heard in the pre-chorus of "Off to the Races":
"Light of my life, fire of my loins."
"I like your ultraviolent swing / I like it when you treat me mean"
- "Summer of Sam".
- "Carmen" and "Kinda Outta Luck" both seem to reference A Streetcar Named Desire, talking about "the kindness of strangers" — which is a paraphrase of a quote, and a major theme of the play.
- The music video for "Young and Beautiful" features an orchestra that is shot exactly like the one in Fantasia, right down to the silhouettes, the shadows, and the colored lighting.
- It could be considered a Call Back to the (cartoon) orchestra featured in Lana's homemade video for "Video Games", too.
- Shrouded in Myth: Not much is known about Lana's life pre-fame, and the content in her songs results in tons of speculation from fans.
- Silly Love Songs: "Lucky Ones".
- Singer Name Drop: "This Is What Makes Us Girls", through singing another "character's" dialogue.
"Lana, how I hate those guys!"
- Also in '"Every Man Gets His Wish":
"Lana Del Rey, how you get that way?"
- And again in "Trash Magic":
"He said: Lana-Rey, will you serve me lemonade?"
- "Criminals Run The World":
"I'm Lana Del Rey from the U.S. of A.."
- Self-Backing Vocalist: "National Anthem" is a good example of her making a choir of her own voice behind her. Also on The Other Wiki she is the only noted vocalist on Born To Die.
- Self-Titled Album: Her first album, titled Lana Del Ray (she had come up with the Lana Del Ray moniker around the time of the album's conception).
- Serial Killer: "Kinda Outta Luck" is about one.
- Smarter Than You Look: She invented the Lana Del Rey (then spelled Lana Del Ray) persona by herself back in 2008, and writes both the words and the melodies for most (if not all) of her material.
- Spell My Name with an S: It's spelled Lana Del Ray when referring to her debut album, and Lana Del Rey otherwise.
- She discarded the "a" in favor of an "e" sometime after the release of Lana Del Ray in 2010. That album was promoted with the correct spelling for a while, but the older variation stuck all the same.
- Stepford Smiler: "Carmen", "All Smiles".
- In "Tired Of Singing The Blues":
"I'm not who you think I am / Smiling but I ain't happy"
- Lana sings about her lover being one of these in "Birds of a Feather":
"So many people think that you have it together / But they don't see you crying in the shower, but I can make you better"
- Subdued Section: "Diet Mountain Dew", being one of the most upbeat songs on the album, with the beat dropping out for a few measures and the singing being softer.
- Take That: "Carmen" against various unwholesome, unfulfilling ways of life.
"Stefani, you suck."
- Take That, Critics!: "Radio" can be interpreted this way.
- Take That Me: According to Word of God, "This Is What Makes Us Girls" — a song about a young woman falling in and out of the wrong side of the track — is autobiographical.
"All dressed up with nowhere to go / That's the story of the girl you know — me"
- Talks like a Simile: A lot in "JFK".
- Also in "Hot Hot Hot", if more subtly.
- Teacher/Student Romance: The focus of the songs "Baby Blue Love", "Boarding School", "Marilyn Monroe", "Ridin'", "Take Me To Paris", and "Prom Song (Gone Wrong)". Alluded to in "Lolita".
- Three Chords and the Truth: Sirens is made up of 15 acoustic songs, all written using the same four chords.
- A lot of Lana's earlier tracks (or at least those made in the interrim between Sirens and Lana Del Ray) are stripped-back in comparison to those found on Born To Die and Paradise.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Spaghetti and chocolate cake, according to an interview with Vogue Australia.
- All kinds of soda, for that matter. This might seem inferred from song titles like "Cola" or "Diet Mountain Dew", but she mentions a lot of different sodas in a lot of other songs.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: You'd think so, what with Sirens focusing on love (and loss) in a much Lighter and Softer way than Born To Die.
- That being said, tracks like "My Momma" are proof that May Jailer already had shades of the Darker and Edgier Lana Del Rey in her.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Lana's love interest in the videos for "Born to Die" and "Blue Jeans".
- We Used to Be Friends: With Lady Gaga, if "So Legit" is any indication.
- Wham Line: "My pussy tastes like Pepsi-Cola."
- Word Salad Lyrics / Phrase Salad Lyrics: "Come When You Call Me A.M.E.R.I.C.A." — both versions, at that.
- "Methamphetamines". Good grief.
- "Dayglo Reflection":
"If everything said everything, is everything?"
- Working Title: A considerable number — and these are just from her released catalogue, as her unreleased material is too self-referential to list without being exhaustive.
- From Lana Del Ray: "Kill Kill" = "The Ocean", "Put Me In A Movie" = "Little Girls", "Raise Me Up" = "Rayse" and "For K (Part 2)" = "Rehab".
- From Born To Die: "Without You" = "China Doll" and "Lolita" = "Hey Lolita Hey".
- Lana considered the following titles for Born To Die itself, before that album took its name from its lead single: "G.B.A. (God Bless America)", "Do U Luv Me Yet?", "The Best Of Lana Del Rey" and "The World Is Ours".
- World of Symbolism: Tropico pretty much runs on this, being "a tale of redemption" — i.e. a retelling of the Genesis according to Lana.
- Wrong Side of the Tracks: "Cola" references LA's skid row.
"Thirty blocks to Fordham Road / That's a bad neighborhood / Crackhouse on the corner / I know I shouldn't do what it is I could"
- Yandere: "She's Not Me".
- Your Cheating Heart: Lana's topic of choice in "True Love On The Side" and "Get Drunk":
"I'm everything you want, but it's hard to decide / 'Cause everybody wants true love on the side"
"I am sleeping with your best friend / How do you like me now?"
- "Cola", "C U L8r Alligator", "Next to Me", "Driving in Cars with Boys" and "Midnite Dancer Girlfriend" all contain references to her being the other woman. In the video for "Ride", she goes so far as to state she was "born to be the other woman".
- In contrast, the songs "In The Sun", "She's Not Me" and "Damn You" all put her on the victim end of an affair.