A$AP Rocky, Adidas, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, BØRNS, Carnival of Souls, Chuck Grant, Clark Jackson, Coachella, Eðvarð Egilsson, Father John Misty, G-Eazy, Get Free, God Bless America, Gucci, Hedy Lamarr, Jonathan Wilson, LA To The Moon, Lana Del Rey, Love, Lust for Life, Our Lady Of Sorrows, Rich Lee, Rick Nowels, Sean Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Summer Bummer, The Weeknd, White Mustang, You Must Love Me
A year after its release, here’s my in-depth review of Lana Del Rey’s Lust For Life…
Out of the Black, Into the Blue: The Radical Happiness of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Lust for Life’
“I find it very easy to go back and forth between a New York state of mind and a California way of being, so I could see me making another New York record. I think it would be different just because it would be a little harder, faster, more upbeat and less dreamy.” – NME, December 2015
Just three months after Honeymoon, Lana Del Rey was already thinking about her next album; and by March 2016, she was back in the studio. She played a series of festival dates that summer, including a headline slot at Lollapalooza. Following a series of legal altercations with obsessive fans, she sold her Malibu home and purchased a more secure, $6 million compound in Studio City. As the presidential election gained pace she urged fans to follow the debates, and tweeted support for the Standing Rock protest movement.
Starboy, the third album from Abe Lasfogel (aka The Weeknd) was released in November 2016. Lana appeared on two tracks, including the hedonistic single ‘Party Monster’. In ‘Stargirl Interlude’, which clocks in at just under two minutes, Lana takes centre-stage.
“I started out thinking that the whole record was gonna have a sort of a ’50s-’60s feeling, kind of some kind of Shangri-Las, early Joan Baez influences,” she told the BBC’s Jo Whiley during a radio interview in February 2017. “But I don’t know, as the climate kept on getting more heated politically, I found lyrically everything was just directed towards that … I made my first four albums for me, but this one is for my fans.”
An album trailer was unveiled in March, flagging the title: Lust for Life. Iggy Pop’s 1977 classic springs to mind, a hard act to follow. It could also be inspired by the Vincent Van Gogh biopic of the same name, but most likely the phrase reflects Del Rey’s mood of hope amid uncertainty. The trailer is filmed in black and white, with a Vampira-esque Lana, “smack-dab in the middle of Hollyweird” and conjuring seven planets with her finger, as household tools levitate around her. “We wanted to play with the idea of old 16mm instructional videos mixed in with ’50s and ’60s era sci-fi shows,” director Clark Jackson told Pitchfork. “We loved the idea of playing with magic, something slightly noir which is very her, something a little playful … We also wanted to tie in this idea that Lana was talking about the power of positive vibrations and the idea that positive thoughts can make a difference…”
“When I’m in the middle of making a record — especially now, when the world is in the middle of such a tumultuous period — I find I really need to take the space to myself, far away from real life, to consider what my contribution to the world should be in these dark times,” Del Rey says in a voiceover for the 2 ½ minute video. “So even though these times can feel a little bit crazy, they’re not so very different from what other generations have experienced at one time or another before.”
Prior to the trailer’s release, Lana posted dates of the waning crescent moon on Instagram, endorsing a binding spell cast by a witches’ coven on the divisive new president to prevent him from doing harm. Witchcraft has lately found favour with a new generation of feminists, and was a major influence on Beyoncé’s Lemonade. But Lana’s old friend, rapper Azaelia Banks (a Trump fan and self-professed bruja), dismissed this cryptic gesture: “Leave that motherfucker alone,” Banks tweeted on her private account. “You witches are only going to make Trump stronger. #WhiteGirlMagic.”
Lust for Life
Angelic in white, Lana beams out from the Lust for Life cover. Her smile contrasts with previous cover images, but there is still one constant: she’s standing in front of a pickup truck. From Born to Die onward, cars have featured on all her album covers. As with Honeymoon, the photo was taken by her sister, Chuck Grant. The title uses the same font from her debut single, ‘Video Games’, in place of her usual logo. Inside the booklet are more photos of Lana by Chuck, and some still lifes, including shots of a neon-lit gas station.
The credits include thanks to friends and colleagues, including Chuck (“I’ve always got your back”); producer and co-writer Rick Nowels (“my partner in music”); and her musical peers Father John Misty, Cat Power, Marina Diamandis and Courtney Love. The last word, however, is a chippy retort: “To all the people in my life who talked a good game but didn’t show up – Fuck you. And thank you for motivating me.”
“Look at you kids with your vintage music
Comin’ through satellites while cruisin’
You’re part of the past, but now you’re the future
Signals crossing can get confusing…”
The lead single and album opener, ‘Love’, was released in February 2017 after being leaked online. Although its hand may have been forced, the timing was perfect. Adding Born to Die producer Emile Haynie and pop songwriter Benny Blanco (who penned Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ and Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’) to her regular team, Del Rey created one of her warmest, most immediate tracks to date. In a fractured political climate, ‘Love’ is a balm to frayed nerves.
Written mostly in the second person, it marks a shift from Del Rey’s introspective tone. She reaches out to her younger fans with empathy (“It’s enough just to make you feel crazy” but warns them against self-absorption (“Seen so much, you could get the blues/But that don’t mean that you should abuse it…”)
“You get ready, you get all dressed up
To go nowhere in particular
Back to work or the coffee shop
Doesn’t matter ’cause it’s enough
To be young and in love…”
Vibraphone and drums anchor Lana’s wishful thinking, as she coos the titular line from the Beach Boys’ ‘Don’t Worry Baby.’ In the final verse, she switches back to first person and rejoins the kids who follow her trail. Shortly after its release, ‘Love’ was covered by a Toronto choir. Del Rey’s highest charting single since ‘West Coast’, it also ranked highly on several end-of-year lists, with Pitchfork’s Eve Barlow praising it as “an ode to allowing yourself to feel.”
The ‘Love’ video is directed by Rich Lee, and shows Lana in the same white lacy dress, with daisies in her hair, as seen on the album cover. She sings with a band, at first in fuzzy black and white, then bursting into colour as the camera moves towards a group of hipsters. As her audience is revealed, we see that Lana is performing on the surface of the moon, and her blue pick-up truck is shown floating into space. One is reminded of the optimism surrounding the moon landings in 1969, and Lana remains fascinated by technology and space travel (in late 2017, she would follow in awe the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket in Santa Barbara.) But it is the young lovers who truly energise her, as she playfully winks into the camera’s eye.
“It was one of the first songs written for the album, and we completed the first version, and it was a beautiful piece of art,” Rick Nowels said of the title track, during an interview for Sound on Sound. He describes the original version as “ominous,” while Lana told The Sun it “had more a Blade Runner feel.” At co-writer Max Martin’s suggestion they incorporated a verse into the chorus, and then asked Abel Tesfaye to sing with Lana. “There was a lot of energy in the room around making a hit single,” Nowels said. “It also added to the future-retro thing that Lana is so fond of.”
“Climb up the H of the Hollywood sign,” Del Rey whispers, in a spoken-word intro reminiscent of the Shangri-Las’ ‘Walking in the Sand’. She later references another girl-group classic from the Angels, murmuring, “My boyfriend’s back/And he’s cooler than ever.” Abel Tesfaye’s honeyed tones add a touch of Motown into the mix, although their collaboration lacks the striking contrast of Lana’s previous duets with Bobby Womack and Barrie O’Neill.
“We’re the captains of our own souls/We’re the masters of our own fate,” they sing, borrowing a line from ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley. Like the Victorian poet, they are not renouncing suffering but transcending it: “There’s no more night,” Lana declares, “Blue skies forever…”
In truth, the song’s lyrics are secondary to its atmosphere. Although some lines verge on cliché, they are invested with feeling (“They say only the good die young/Well, that just ain’t right.”) As they coo to each other, “Take off, take off/Take off all your clothes,” there’s a sense of cosmic unburdening. Ultimately, ‘Lust for Life’ is less effective than ‘Love,’ and works best as a theme. But as a modern pop single, it’s endearingly strange.
The ‘Lust for Life’ video is directed by Clark Jackson, who also produced the ‘Love’ promo and directed the album trailer. It begins where ‘Love’ left off, heading back down to earth and into a TV studio, where Lana and her back-up dancers performing a 1960s-style routine. Sporting a red shirt-dress with matching hair-ribbon and shoes, Lana looks almost doll-like. She runs off the set as the screen fades to black, and climbs onto the Hollywood sign where Abel is waiting. Like miniature gods they look down upon the world, and as the number draws to a close, the lovers take the plunge and fall to earth. (Some critics have speculated that the video was inspired by the suicide of actress Peg Entwhistle, who made the fatal leap back in 1932, but Lana’s management denied this.)
The next track begins with another of those baroque strings arrangements that have become Del Rey’s trademark, from ‘Born to Die’ to ‘Honeymoon’. The cinematic feel is enhanced by an audio clip from Herk Harvey’s 1962 cult horror, Carnival of Souls, in which actress Candace Hilligoss confesses her feelings of alienation:
“I don’t belong in the world. That’s what it is – something separates me from other people. Everywhere I turn there’s something blocking my escape…”
“It took thirteen beaches to find one empty/But finally it’s mine,” Lana sings. ’13 Beaches’ was inspired by her own experience of trying to relax on a beach undisturbed by the paparazzi. “It’s a little bit of an abstract notion,” she told NME, admitting this “might seem like a luxury problem.” But behind that perfectly composed veneer (“I’m camera ready/Almost all the time”) she is still mourning a lost love (“And I’d be lying if I kept hiding the fact that I can’t deal/That I’ve been dying for something real…”)
Elsewhere on ’13 Beaches’, Del Rey paints a lyrical picture that isn’t quite a story, but rather a masterful evocation of heartache from a songwriter at the height of her powers:
“But you still can find me if you ask nicely
Underneath the pines
With the daisies, feeling hazy
In the ballroom of my mind
Across the county line…”
‘Cherry’ was co-written with Tim Larcombe, and has the dark, doomy vibe of a previous collaboration, ‘Gods & Monsters’ (from Paradise, 2012.) Lana returns to the Garden of Eden, with the fruits of temptation hanging all around. Guitars and heavy beats clash against her breathy vocals (“Love, is this real love?/It’s like smiling when the firing squad’s against you/And you just stay lined up/Yeah…”)
“Darlin’, darlin’, darlin’, I fall to pieces when I’m with you,” she sighs. “My cherries and wine, rosemary and thyme…” Forbidden passion destroys all in its path as this modern-day Eve slurs profanities (“And all of my peaches are ruined, bitch…”)
In October 2017, Del Rey hinted that ‘Cherry’ might be her next single, and that she hoped to shoot a video. “I spoke to a few different directors about ideas I had and nobody liked any of them,” she told MTV News, “so I think I might do it myself, for ‘Cherry’. Maybe with my sister … just go back to the old days and do our handheld stuff in a hotel…” After tour rehearsals commenced the project was shelved, although it’s believed that footage shot for ‘Cherry’ may yet be repurposed.
Clocking in at under three minutes, ‘White Mustang’ is the album’s shortest song. Like ’13 Beaches’, it’s a piano-led, elegiac ballad about a musician lover (“Everybody said you’re a killer/But I couldn’t stop the way I was feeling/The day your record dropped”). It also has a slight country twang redolent of ‘13 Beaches.’ Del Rey tries to escape the past (“Caught up in my dreams and forgetting”), but is consumed with regret.
“Summer’s made for loving and leaving
I was such a fool for believing
That you could change the ways you’ve been living
But you just couldn’t stop…”
The third and final single, ‘White Mustang’ has a video directed by Rich Lee (‘Love’.) The opening shots take us to the Hollywood hills, flying over space-age architecture. Icelandic actor Eðvarð Egilsson plays Lana’s lover, seen first lying down as she towers over him. In the following scenes he works on a computer and parties with friends while Lana watches silently. After the second verse, the song is replaced by a solitary flamenco, and the couple drive in separate cars, circling each other in a futuristic green metropolis.
A promotional single, ‘Summer Bummer’ is the first of two duets with her friend A$AP Rocky (who starred in the ‘National Anthem’ video back in 2012.) “He travels a lot,” Del Rey told Beats1 Radio, “but whenever he’s in town, I’ll come down to the studio and hear what he’s working on and just do background vocals on his tracks. There probably are a lot of tracks somewhere that we’re both on.” Another rapper, Playboi Carti, is also featured on ‘Summer Bummer’, a return to the hip-hop milieu of Born to Die via the lazy trap rhythms of ‘High By the Beach.’ A cover shot by Neil Krug shows a moody Lana dressed in black, sucking a lollipop.
“It’s never too late to be who you want to be/To say what you want to say,” she sings, as the piano harmony gives way to harsh beats. “I got a feeling in my bones, can’t get you out of my veins/You can’t escape my affection, wrap you up in my daisy chains…”
Summer is a constant inspiration, and here it’s the backdrop to a heady, illicit romance with an ‘undercover lover’, possibly drug-fuelled (“Baby I need this/White lines and black beaches”.) Rocky and Carti bring a macho, discordant quality to her signature haze (“Her sophistication/Makes you wanna quit the bitch you datin’…”)
‘Groupie Love’ is a wide-eyed ode to a celebrity crush, with Lana as the fangirl, not the object of desire (“It’s so hard sometimes with the star/When you have to share him with everybody”). Rocky’s contribution feels tacked-on here, and with her fill of moony admirers, you can’t help but wonder if there’s not a hint of parody in the syrupy lyrics (“It’s so sweet swingin’ to the beat/When I know that you’re doing it all for me.”)
This cloying atmosphere switches abruptly with ‘In My Feelings’, a synth-driven volley aimed at a spurned lover. At an album listening party in Los Angeles, Del Rey appeared to indicate the subject was G-Eazy, the rapper with whom she had a brief, much-publicised fling after meeting at the Coachella Festival in April 2017. “Could it be that I fell for another loser?” she asks. The lyrics give a flavour of her chaotic life, and contrary mood: “I’m smoking while I’m runnin’ on my treadmill/But I’m coming up roses,” she sings, hurling out a litany of accusations: “Talk that talk, well now they all know your name/And there’s no coming back from the place that you came/Baby, don’t do it…”
‘In My Feelings’ was part of a batch of new songs written after Coachella, and although Lana wasn’t in the line-up, it was an inspiring weekend. As with ‘Groupie Love’, she approaches the next track, ‘Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind’ as a listener. She first posted a snippet of the song on Instagram, sung acapella in a sequoia grove after leaving the festival. “I was at Coachella, leanin’ on your shoulder/Watchin’ your husband swing in time,” she begins, referring to her friend and musical counterpart, Father John Misty, and his wife Emma Tillman. She then refers to the tensions reported between the U.S. and North Korea, which quells her euphoria as she prays for her fellow revellers.
The final cut, released as a promotional single, replaces the acoustic vibe with electronica, which is somewhat jarring. Lust for Life, in general, lacks the cohesive sound of Ultraviolence or Honeymoon, and aims for a melding of pop and folk-rock. But while ‘Coachella’ is no match for Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’, its plaintive tone heads up the second half of Lust for Life, and a cycle of songs exploring modern America.
Irving Berlin’s ‘God Bless America’ was a rallying cry for troops during World War II, and is still regularly performed at state and sporting events. Del Rey’s ‘God Bless America – and All the Beautiful Women in It’ owes something to that patriotic hymn, and is also reminiscent in parts of ‘The New Colossus’, the Emma Lazarus sonnet inscribed beneath the Statue of Liberty (“A mighty woman with a torch … I lift my lamp beside the golden door…”)
The American dream – and its dark underbelly – has been a major theme in Lana’s work. “But the phrase has wider meaning,” she said of ‘God Bless America’, in an interview for Flaunt magazine. “When all the Women’s Marches were happening, I had already written this song…”
“Take me as I am,” she begins, blending pride with a plea: “Only you can save me tonight.” The lyrics hark back to her New York years with evident nostalgia (“I hear the sweetest melodies/On the fire escapes of the city…”) The Spanish guitar intro evokes a multiracial nation, but the chorus is punctuated by gunshots. Looking back on her wild past, she embraces freedom (“Even walking alone, I’m not worried/I feel your arms all around me…”)
“Girls, don’t forget your pearls
And all of your horses
As you make your way across the pond
Girls, don’t forget your curls
And all of your corsets
Memorize them in a little song …”
‘When the World Was At War We Kept Dancing’ begins in a downbeat, acoustic mood, with Del Rey using her painterly gifts to recall battles through time, from civil wars to global conflicts (“Boys, don’t forget your toys/And take all of your money/If you find you’re in a foreign land…”)
Anger builds as Del Rey jumbles slang old and new (from ‘cut a rug’ to ‘choreo’), daring the warmongers to “lean into the fuckin’ youth,” and bitterly confronts their lies: “we just want the fuckin’ truth (told by the fake news…”)
“Is this the end of an era?” she pleads, “Is this the end of America?” It’s a question to herself, and the world. As in ‘God Bless America’, glacial synths echo the winds of change – but here, she succeeds in bringing the drama of her lovelorn ballads to the political sphere. Finally she chooses hope, with lessons learned from history (“When the world was at war before, we just kept dancing/And we’ll do it again…”)
The original ‘witchy woman’ of the 1970s, Stevie Nicks is an ideal precursor for Lana Del Rey, and has known producer Rick Nowels since high school. “I think that, in our lives to come, we’ll be able to work on many more songs together,” she said in conversation with Lana for V Magazine. “I just want to sing with the people that I think can make me better and make something that’s better than both of us singing by ourselves.”
Sung over a gently insistent piano, ‘Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems’ is the first of two duets with deeply nostalgic overtones. “Blue is the color of the planet from the view above,” Del Rey begins. “Green is the planet from the eyes of a turtle dove/Till it runs red, runs red with blood.” Her weariness is palpable, and in a nod to co-writer Justin Parker, she recalls their first collaboration (“It’s more than just a video game…”)
Nicks’ unmistakable rasp contrasts with Lana’s soft tones. She sings of a blue-collar lover who’s “hard to the touch,” signalling her vulnerability (“My heart is soft, my past is rough.”) The song is thought to have originated as one of Del Rey and Parker’s compositions for the Big Eyes soundtrack back in 2014. As the women sing together they ruminate: “But is it a wasted love?”
If ‘Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems’ is a song you could happily play to your Boomer parents (or grandparents), ‘Tomorrow Never Came’ brings that sentiment full circle with Sean Ono Lennon representing a new generation of rock royalty. The title is a play on The Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, and an omen of our turbulent era. One need only hear Sean’s voice to be transported back to John Lennon’s heyday, and yet the song tells of missed opportunities and drifters lost in time. Awash in Byrds-esque guitars and drums, Lana waxes lyrical (“I could put on the radio to our favourite song/Lennon and Yoko we would play all day long/’Isn’t life crazy?’ I said, ‘now that I’m singing with Sean’…”)
“Topanga’s hot today
Manson’s in the air
And all my friends have gone
‘Cause they still feel him here …”
Almost half a century on, the Tate-LaBianca murders still haunt the imagination. Del Rey has explored the lure of cult leaders in songs like ‘Ultraviolence’, and alluded to one of Charles Manson’s songs in ‘Guns and Roses’ (“You got game, boy…”) She was even offered the role of the Manson Family’s most famous victim, actress Sharon Tate, in a shelved biopic. Manson died in prison a few months after Lust for Life was released.
On ‘Heroin’, Lana dreams about a drug-addicted lover, and the habit which “gave you everything and took your life away.” Her path to fame and fortune drove a wedge between them (“I’m getting on that aeroplane, leaving my old man again…”) In another verse, she equates California’s droughts with psychic meltdown (“Something ’bout this weather make these kids go crazy.”) Hearing the siren call of the doomed Manson girls, she traces their descent into madness (“writing in blood on my walls and shit … I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sick of it…”)
One of the first songs written for the album, ‘Heroin’ is followed by the last track recorded, and second in a trilogy of highly personal tracks which close Lust for Life. ‘Change’, a piano-led ballad, starting in a minor key (“Lately I’ve been thinking it’s just someone else’s job to care/Who am I to sympathize when no one gave a damn?”) There’s a fragility to Del Rey’s vocals, as she sings “There’s something in the water/I can taste it turning sour” and falls silent for a second, before adding hoarsely, “It’s bitter, I’m coughing…”
But ‘Change’ is another song of hope, as Lana promises “to be honest/Capable of holding you in my arms without letting you fall/When I don’t feel beautiful or stable, maybe it’s enough to just be where we are…” While ‘Coachella’ may have fallen short, here she enters Joni Mitchell territory.
“Sometimes it feels like I’ve got a war in my mind
I wanna get off but I keep riding the ride
I never really noticed that I had to decide
To play someone’s game or live my own life …”
‘Get Free’ was inspired by The Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell’s study of narrative myths. “This is my commitment/My modern manifesto,” Lana sings, “I’m doing it for all of us/Who never got the chance…” After referencing ‘Ride’ (the lead single from Paradise, 2012), she leaps forward, and as ‘Get Free’ draws to a rapturous end, she repeats the euphoric last line in a Stevie Nicks-style rasp: “But now I do, I want to move/Out of the black, into the blue…”
LA To The Moon
After Lust for Life’s release in July 2017, Del Rey added promotional dates in the UK and US to her summer festival appearances. In January 2018, she embarked on a three-month world tour, LA To The Moon, travelling through North and South America, Europe and Australia. As on previous tours, the setlist was composed of old favourites (mostly from Born to Die) interspersed with more recent tracks, and Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Scarborough Fair’. Lana’s regular support act, Colombian singer Kali Uchis, released her acclaimed debut album, Isolation, shortly after leaving the tour.
Since the Endless Summer tour in 2015, Lana’s shows have been more tightly choreographed. A fan who saw her perform in Sydney suggested this may be a way of keeping in time, as even though note-perfect, she sometimes misses the beat. She is not a trained dancer, and occasionally seems awkward. Nonetheless, whether she’s singing while aloft on a swing, or draped over a piano, there are many dramatic highlights.
Although generally praised by critics, the tour was not free of controversy. In February, a man was arrested for a kidnapping threat prior to Del Rey’s show in Orlando Florida. It was also reported that alt-rock giants Radiohead were considering legal action over the alleged resemblance between ‘Get Free’ and their 1993 hit, ‘Creep’. Lana vigorously denied this was deliberate, and some journalists pointed out that ‘Creep’ had been the subject of a prior legal settlement over its similarities to The Hollies’ ‘The Air That I Breathe.’ By March, the dispute was apparently resolved and ‘Get Free’ has been performed on subsequent dates.
Del Rey’s style choices have been more casual on this tour (her Priscilla Presley days are definitely over.) Her hair has been cut to a mid-length bob, and while promoting Lust for Life, she often performed in jeans and black leisurewear – sparking rumours of a sponsorship deal with Adidas – as well as adding a line of t-shirts and hooded tops to her merchandise range. During the LA To The Moon Tour, she alternated a dressed-down look with more glamorous outfits, blending 1960s-style short skirts and high boots with New Wave glitter, sequins and shoulder pads. Most flattering of all are the simple gypsy dresses that have become her trademark, combined with more natural makeup.
She has also been styled to dramatic effect by Gucci’s Alessandro Michele for high-profile public appearances. At the 2018 Grammys in January, she wore an ivory silk crepe gown topped with a crystal star halo, inspired by film star Hedy Lamarr’s costume in Ziegfeld Girl (1944.) Lamarr is the subject of a recent documentary, Bombshell, focusing on her scientific work developing wireless communications technology during World War II. Along with many other artists, Lana also wore a white rose on her wrist, signifying her support for the Time’s Up movement against sexual harassment.
Coming from a Catholic background, Lana played Mother Mary in her short film, Tropico (2013), while Catholic imagery was also present in her Spanish-style photo shoot with Nicole Nodland for L’Officiel Paris. In May, she joined a Messianic Jared Leto at the annual Met Gala, themed around Catholic art. Her Renaissance-style dress with gold accents featured a sacred heart pierced by seven daggers, apparently inspired by Our Lady of Sorrows.
Since Lust for Life, Del Rey has joined BØRNS for two songs on his album, Blue Madonna: including the title track, and the single, ‘God Save Our Young Blood’. Although the album is EDM-heavy, BØRNS’ down-played vocals and lyrical imagery are not unlike Lana’s (after hearing his demos she remarked, “I feel like I’m already on it.”) As well as supporting new artists, she has worked with friends Jonathan Wilson (singing back-up vocals for ‘Living With Myself’, on his Rare Birds album), and co-wrote Miles’ Franklin’s ‘Loaded’, lead single from his Coup de Grace. In an era dominated by solo artists, collaborative work is increasingly desirable. This sense of bonhomie also pervades Lust for Life, overlapping Del Rey’s rapport with her audience.
Her sweet, appealing cover of ‘You Must Love Me’, written for Madonna’s Evita in 1996, appeared on Unmasked, a star-studded tribute album for musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Her opinion of the original (or Madonna’s verdict on the remake) is unknown, but Del Rey is blazing her own trail as alt-pop princess. It was recently announced that she will feature on ‘Woman’, a track from Cat Power’s Wanderer, and she may yet appear on Marina and the Diamonds’ next album.
Lana has also delved into her own back catalogue, contributing a 2008 demo, ‘Elvis’, to The King, a documentary about Presley’s cultural legacy. She has talked about compiling an album of unreleased tracks, after pulling two songs, ‘Yosemite’ and ‘Roses Bloom For You‘, from Lust for Life. However, she is now working on new material and has already previewed one track, ‘Happiness Is A Butterfly‘ and mentioned another (‘Bartender‘.) A promising demo, entitled ‘Architecture’ or ‘Best American Record’, was leaked in 2017, but it’s unclear whether it was connected to the project (some have suggested it was a leftover from Ultraviolence.)
Lust for Life earned Del Rey a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album, losing out to Ed Sheeran who swept the board this year. She later won the ASCAP Pop Music Global Impact Award, with Father John Misty presenting the statuette, and performing a cover of ‘Ride’. “It strikes me as vaguely ironic to give a songwriting award to someone who just seems to effortlessly radiate songs, but I know how hard you work and what you do and I think everybody else does,” he said afterwards. “You can take all the crack songwriters and put them in a bunker for a thousand years and they would not come up with ‘I Fucked My Way Up to the Top,’ ever.”