+ Freedom Of The Open Road +
Lana Del Rey (Elizabeth Grant) has crafted this momentous piece of music that explores her “rollercoaster ride” to becoming a known figure in the music industry. Sandwiched between a prologue and epilogue, striking camera work and intimate lyrics, Lana saddles us up for a journey through a mentally strenuous time of her ever snowballing career. This piece however, reveals a darker side to the girl you see in her first song Video Games. A darker, sexier, more feminine “black beauty” archetype to her personality.
Paradise is the third EP release from the American singer-songwriter, she articulates the sounds and techniques found in earlier music, mainly from the last century, and creates these whimsical pieces of music lathered in rich strings and deep bass (Lipshutz, 2012). Her first album Born To Die released in 2012, celebrated and showcased the unique sounds Lana had been working on that, as NME Jouranlist Alex Denney stated, “marked the arrival of a fresh – and refreshingly self-aware – sensibility in pop… and nailed the warped sense of nostalgia in a way a thousand wafty shoegaze revisionists could only dream of” (Denney, 2012). Unlike her previously released album, her follow-up composition Born To Die: Paradise Edition delves deeper into the emotional psyche and musical talent of this 26 year old, David Lynch loving virtuoso. The first single off this album, Ride, explores this new deeper level of emotion that Lana has woven into each song of the record, consequently becoming one of her most successful and cinematic pieces to be released so far.
For Lana, this song encapsulates every rhythmic element she has produced in previous songs. The harsh vocal line, accompanied by the piano, mellow strings and bass guitar are tied together and syncopated to create that rugged, powerful rhythm. The Groove however is undoubtedly carried on the shoulders of the vocalist and drums, highlighted in the chorus line.
Like many “Pop” songs, the hook is normally played alongside the main melody of the chorus and this piece is no exception. In my opinion the hook of the song would be the verse, “I Just Ride”. On this verse, a repetitive melodic pattern begins to echo, the strings crescendo and the strong drums from the background come to the foreground, which ignites into a zealous, lyrical and emotional chorus. This verse makes it the most memorable, which results in the hook. A hook being defined as, “a musical or lyrical phrase that stands out and is easily remembered” (Burns, 1987).
The sound for this piece would be the most prominent. The use of Rondo Form (ABABC) and the melancholic chord progression played mainly by the pianist and strings creates an unsettling atmosphere, resulting in a change in our mood. When it comes to the chorus, the mood of the piece changes however.
The strings crescendo accompanied by the drums and evolve the feeling of the piece to an uplifting sound. For me, as the piece develops, I can’t help but feel like singing along and swaying. The juxtaposition between the largo strings, rustic vocals and harsh drums makes the piece become somewhat empowering, it’s develops from a sultry reminiscence to a influential “feel good” song.
+ Seven Key Concepts +
Lana Del Rey has this powerful soprano voice that connects with her audience on another level. She performs with such emotion and prowess, you as a listener can’t help but be enveloped in her sound. She has an almost siren-like sexuality that surrounds her, “You can look, but you can’t touch” vibe is given off. When it comes down to identity, she challenges the norms of being a musical Figure. Dressed in button down vintage dresses, similar to those worn in the 1960’s by Jacqueline Onassis & Marilyn Monroe with the typical “beehive” hairstyle. She plays on an already trending style, but takes it to the next step and becomes something exquisite. Her music, like most artists, is heavily influenced by broken love and soul searching. Something her audience can materialise in their search for identity. An identity being something that, “Determines the characteristics of a person” (The University Of Chicago, 1913).
Lana Del Rey’s unique sound and mesmerizing lyrical ballads, have been compared to those of other American Female Artists such as Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks and musician Tori Amos, both of these artists also compose their music around rich melodies and dense instrumental sections. Lana herself, in a BBC Radio interview, said that her sound was influenced by artists like, “Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Jeff Buckley and Leonard Cohen” (Rey, 2012). Her extensive use of a string quartet also hints to some classical music influence from the Baroque Era.
Growing up as a child, singing at school and church was tradition for Lana. Conglomerating her experiences and values as a child, she was able to create a sound that reflected her childhood, shown by her abundant use of classical instruments throughout her music.
The story for “Ride” is based around Lana Del Rey’s life of being free spirited. It becomes evident the struggles and misunderstandings she endured along the way, expressed in her monologue before and after the piece, especially when she says;
“I was always an unusual girl, my mother told me that I had a chameleon soul. No Moral compass pointing me due north, no fixed personality. Just an inner indecisiveness that was as wide and as wavering as the ocean”
“Who are you? Are you in touch with all your darkest fantasies? Have you created a life for yourself where you’re free to experience them? I have. I am Fucking Crazy. But I Am Free”
These two passages stood out the most to me as they best described how Lana was feeling at the time. It’s a brutally harsh monologue that probes deep into her personal life, the significant moments that changed who she was.
The Album Paradise took Lana Del Rey one year to write and was released by Polydor Records in November 2012. Each song encapsulates some angle of Lana’s life and seem to produce this reoccurring dark ambience. Lana stuck to more conservative and unique technology using live instruments, instead of synthesizers and electronic instruments, all adding to the authentic feel of the album.
In my opinion, few artists are as unique and authentic as Lana Del Rey. Her lyrics are deep and emotional relating to some point in her life and are juxtaposed against her artistic and cinematic music videos. The way in which she composes and structures her music is far different to the likes of other artists such as Rihanna. Her compositions for Video Games & Ride are two perfect examples of her intelligent artistic mind, using vintage clips and scenic shots to fashion the richer emotion of the piece.
I have decided to present my song on the essay platform. There are more options in doing this and there is a lot more to be expressed about why Lana chooses to write this way for this piece, her frustrations and agony and other personal connections. I will continue using a blog as my platform as there are a vast number of ways to present your information and depict my personal, social and cultural connections to Lanas song.
+ Reference List +
Burns, G. (1987). A Typology of ‘Hooks’ in Popular Records (1 ed., Vol. 6). (P. Music, Ed.) Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Denney, A. (2012, February 3rd). Lana Del Rey - ‘Born To Die’ . Retrieved March 15th, 2012, from NME Reviews: http://www.nme.com/reviews/lana-del-rey/12692
Lipshutz, J. (2012, September 25th). Lana Del Rey Releases ‘Ride’ Single From ‘Born To Die’ Deluxe Edition. Retrieved March 14th, 2013, from Billboard: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/474939/lana-del-rey-releases-ride-single-from-born-to-die-deluxe-edition#/news/lana-del-rey-releases-ride-single-from-born-1007957392.story
Rey, L. D. (2012, February 2nd). Interview with Lana Del Rey. Interview with Lana Del Rey. (J. Whiley, Interviewer) BBC Radio 2. London.
The University Of Chicago. (1913). Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. Chicago, Illinois, United States: The University Of Chicago.