Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence” Review

Eric Casey, Staff Writer

Forget everything you have heard about Lana Del Rey. Whatever you heard about her is probably 90% not true. The most important thing to know is that you’ll never figure her out, and honestly, she probably can’t figure herself out. So stop bashing her because it’s not worth it.

29 year old Elizabeth Warrant Grant goes by the moniker of Lana Del Rey. Why not? When your real self can’t make it big after years of struggle, endless gigs, and sleeping with music execs…what else do you have to lose? David Bowie, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Enya, Bono, Natalia Kills, and many more have changed their name and/or reinvented themselves to be marketable.

Lana has unfairly been under constant speculation since her “Video Games” music video was released in late 2011, and especially after that not so bad SNL performance. As for being fake? Give me a break! As if you haven’t been fake before? Honestly, there is nothing fake about her (except maybe those bee stung lips, but it’s probably just the trickery of makeup that makes them appear that way.)

Born To Die was released in 2012 and debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and has since been certified platinum in the U.S. It didn’t spawn any huge singles. “Video Games” landed at #91 on the Hot 100, and the “accidental” hit of “Summertime Sadness” remixed by Cedric Gervais reached #6, which was also her only mainstream radio hit to date. Her song “Young and Beautiful” was the lead single off The Great Gatsby soundtrack and reached #22.

With Ultraviolence, her first #1 album, the direction has changed. It makes you realize how jumbled up Born To Die was. With this album there is a consistent story here, albeit sad. There’s been controversy surrounding her stance on feminism. Some have taken her words way out of context. I don’t believe she is anti-feminist, but she just doesn’t have a clear opinion on it. I think her new songs highlight the bad side of rock n’ roll fame. It shines light on the woman’s point of view as the wife or girlfriend of a male rock star from decades ago and even the present. It represents the point of view you’ve never heard because maybe at the time it was just uncommon for a woman to come out to the press about their abusive partner, so they were just silenced in the background. Lana is acting or being a representative of them through music. However, some songs are probably a little bit about her too, but just not as much as Born To Die.

French academic Catherine Vigier had the following to say in her essay titled “The Meaning of Lana Del Rey.” “She is representing and speaking to a contradiction facing thousands of young women today, women who have followed mainstream society’s prescriptions for success in what has been called a post-feminist world, but who find that real liberation and genuine satisfaction elude them.” Lana has also stated that a true feminist is a woman who does what she wants.

Aside from the story of her album there is something else intriguing. Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys produced the album with a Nashville band in a short period of time. He brought a very melancholic rock sound to it with plenty of nice hypnotic guitar riffs. It’s a different contrast from her past trip-hop sounds. It compliments her sad, lonely, dreampop sound. The album is extremely coherent without any major singles looking to go mainstream. Ultraviolence has solidified her as an album artist. Lana puts too much time in to her work just to make a shoddy album with two hit singles.

The first five songs on the album are some of the best songs of the year. “Cruel World” features the line “Share my body and my life with you/that’s way over now/there’s not more I can do/you’re so famous now.” That seems to be a continuing theme throughout the entire album. There are two songs in which she seems to make fun of the ones who assume she got everything she wanted. In “Money Power Glory” she talks a lot about taking advantage of someone. “I wanna take you for all that you got

Hallelujah, I’m gonna take them for all that they got.” In “F*#&ed My Way To The Top” she again mimics the critics. “Lay me down tonight in my diamonds and pearls/ tell me something like I’m your favorite girl.”

One of the most interesting songs on the album is “Pretty When You Cry.” It was recorded in one take and was totally freestyled furthering the feeling of a live album. Actually, it was live. Dan Auerbach said in the Rolling Stone, “every criticism that I’d ever heard about her was proven wrong when I was in the studio with her,” he says. “From how great the songs were to how confident she is as a musician to her f-ing singing every song live, with a handheld microphone and a seven-piece band. I mean, get the f–k out of here, who does that? Nobody does that, there hasn’t been a number one pop record that was recorded like that in forty, fifty years.”

To conclude, Lana Del Rey is a mysterious muse. There is nobody else out there like her. Why waste your time trying to pick her apart? It’s totally unfair because she’s as human as we are. Just enjoy the music from a rare and reclusive talent. There’s no telling how long Lana will be around in the music business, because let’s be honest, she’s absolutely beautiful and free to do whatever she wants.