The internet’s one true strength is of course, taking rights away from artists. No-one’s suffered more at the hands of Hacktivists more than Lana Del Rey. You thought Wikileaks was a problem? LDR had to write a whole new album because of you guys. What’s actually kind of cool about the whole thing is that LDR has this intense internet mythology built around her that’s legitimately fascinating. What do you even call her? Lizzie Grant? May Jailer? LDR has the murkiest artistic background since Homer. For real: If anything’s currently recreating the anonymity and debate of say, the literary world, it’s pop music. It’s in surprise Drake mix-tapes, vast YouTube backlogs and obscure Tumblr directories. Underestimate its mystery at your will. To celebrate that, and an upcoming album release, let’s take a gander through LDR’s best unreleased tracks.
1) Never Let Me Go
‘Love me like your best friends did’, is the one of the smartest lines LDR’s ever written. It’s classic Lana; a need to be loved by someone, a jab at that lover, and a slight confession of infidelity, all in one. It’s also sincere and vulnerable, and the song’s lightness belies its depth (and serious replay value).
2) Angels Forever
This is a pre-cursor to Ride and it’s LDR at her most romantic. Again, it kills with its opening line: ‘Is there sun in your eyes, easy rider?’. I think I’ve talked about this before but I have a playlist called AirPlane Mode which is literally hours and hours or music I put on for 14 hour flights where I just want to sleep. There’s something about listening to those opening lines, while looking out a plane window onto acres of clouds that feels right. Or drugs, whatever.
3) Starry Eyed
This is the rarely seen, caring – almost maternal – side of LDR. She’s probably finally found someone more of a mess than her (that’s fine! We are all messes secretly) and so she’s in full on Take Care mode. Confession: I have listened to this more than once after a long day writing essays and it gets me through to the next paragraph.
4) Driving In Cars With Boys
LDR at her most fun! This track is a riot. Since Paradise, Lana’s tended towards a style that emphasises the flexibility of her voice in a really beautiful way (Yayo marks that start point) but in that, we’ve lost the hip-hop-pop-jaunt of her earlier sound. It crops up occasionally – on bonus tracks like Florida Kilos – and Driving In Cars With Boys is a reminder of how fun it can be. If she’s truly going back to more of a Born To Die sound on Honeymoon, maybe we’re going to hear more of this. Stick Calvin Harris on a remix, and you’ve got something that will last you through summer. We need something other than Taylor Swift, anyway.
This is LDR at her funniest and most romantic which is LDR at her best: ‘Text me when you get home safely / Like you always did when we was first dating’. That says everything, really; the modern romance (texting! Paris!), the gangster Nancy Sinatra (‘we was first dating’) , and most importantly, the failed relationship (no more texts for LDR). This is surprisingly well-formed for an unreleased track (though most of LDR’s are). All it needs is a slick production by Jeff Bhasker (that seems a good fit, right?) and we can stick it on Honeymoon. Shed a solo tear, because that is never going to happen.
JFK – Lana Del Rey
Okay, a lot of this doesn’t make much sense. Its central line – ‘you got away like JFK’ – might sound nice, but literally makes zero sense. Even to someone with the faintest understanding of American history, or who has even the faintest understanding of how assassinations work, this makes no sense. I tried to read it sarcastically – as in, you tried to get away but Lana (or your troubles) shot you down – but it doesn’t really work. It’s better just to read the JFK line as an image of both Lana’s impossibly golden America; the vague dream-vision which makes sense when she’s singing but falls to pieces when you look back on it. Her wild summer July nights are here, so is her lover who drives around town. That’s the most satisfying thing about Lana and her vocabulary; everything’s simultaneously familiar and new. Also Lana’s cadence has never been better deployed than in the inarguable second stanza:
He was the king of the town with a crown that would never fall
A heart like a bass that would beat for his baby doll
Mind like a diamond, an inimitable song
That’s my baby
Ever heard anyone use ‘inimitable’ in a pop song before? I didn’t think so.
UPDATE: Clearly the lyrics are actually: ‘you’ve got a way like JFK’ and not ‘you got away like JFK’. It was late when I wrote this, I am fallible. In fairness, it’s still a little odd but at least Lana can add buying into Kennedy mythology to her CV now.