Formerly known by a few other names (i.e. Lizzy Grant) before finally making it in Los Angeles as the brooding musician now very well known as Lana Del Rey (real name: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant), has graced the sound waves with her haunting tones and gritty lyrics for almost 10 years. Del Rey’s newest single, “Love”, was released Feb. 18 of this year and proves that Lana Del Rey is not done sharing her story.
When you first listen to one of Del Rey’s trippy hit songs, you may be surprised to hear a style that seems simultaneously familiar and unique. When I first sat down to discover a little more about Lana and her music I heard a sound that was similar to the style of the great musical artists of the 1960’s, mixed with the raw style of 90’s grunge and with a twist of hip-hop inspired beats layered over mesmerizing, ominous tones.
The only way to describe what listening to a Lana Del Rey song feels like is: from the moment you press “play” you feel as if someone has tucked you into bed, covering you up with a light, soft blanket of despair. But, the despair is not uncomfortable or unbearable; it is almost soothing, leaving you feeling wrapped into a calm sadness.
I know many other people who have listened to Del Rey’s music and simply find her style boring, redundant, monotone and just plain depressing. I can completely see where these people are coming from, and I’m not implying we should all just become depressed, self-medicating pessimists.
I admit that I idolize Lana Del Rey because of her unique sound and poetic lyrics. Listening to her deep, airy voice backed by flowing instrumentals and modern, electronically synthesized beats is hypnotizing and inspires me to venture deeper into my thoughts. Most days, I don’t exactly enjoy getting lost in my own mind because there are so many thoughts rapidly circulating in my head that I get exhausted trying to keep up. Other days I am able to slow down my thinking and sort through all of the information and focus on what I am trying to tell myself.
If you read my last piece, you know that I am annoyingly indecisive. If you did not read that last piece, now you know. I have so many ideas just jumping around that I feel a bit antsy. I want to do so many things and go to so many places, that I cannot even keep up with myself. I find myself daydreaming endless possibilities for my future and which direction I want to go, but each direction is grossly different from the others. I listen to music that reflects what I am feeling, as most of us do. I also tend to go through some fairly regular bouts of deep thoughtfulness that can only be cured by some thought provoking music or a seriously dramatic movie.
I have found that pulling up an entire playlist of only Lana Del Rey songs usually does the job of getting me to recognize what I need to focus on. Maybe in the moment I am focusing on Del Rey’s words and feeling emotionally connected to the music and the stories she is telling, but diving into someone else’s thoughts has a way of guiding you to an answer to your own issues.
I understand that idolizing an artist who endlessly romanticizes her desire to die and her past relationships with older men and alcohol is a bit concerning. I understand that loving a musician whose list of inspirations include the tortured souls of Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse can sound a bit messed up (Del Rey once stated in an interview, “I know she's not with us anymore but I believe she was who she was and in that way she got it right,” in reference to Winehouse).
However, idolizing a talented, dark artist, such as Lana Del Rey, is not about judging her way of life, her past or her thoughts. What I see in Del Rey is a person who had an intense past that included periods of homelessness, biker gangs, toxic relationships and drinking (Del Rey now focuses more on helping others with addiction). I see a rising star that has an interesting story to tell and an even more interesting way to share those stories.
I find Lana Del Rey to be unapologetically honest and intensely insightful. She has a way of casually conveying her personal damage that makes her appear translucent, as if she is not hiding anything for anyone to scrutinize. At the same time Del Rey has given the impression that despite her openness, she is still a mystery only Lana herself can solve.
Lana Del Rey makes us feel like we know her, and that she can tap into our darkest thoughts and bring them up to the light. She pushes the limits of what is “acceptable” to share and what society feels we should keep to ourselves, and does it beautifully.