Back in March, when Lana Del Rey released the first single from her new album Lust For Life, I made this statement: “One thing I love about Del Rey is how little she seems to care about bending her sound toward the fads of the day. You won’t find a rap break in any of her songs.”
Six songs into Lust For Life, she made me eat those words, as rapper A$AP Rocky shows up to deliver a verse on the track ‘Summer Bummer.’ He sticks around for the next song, ‘Groupie Love,’ as well.
Day Seven of the 30 Day Music Challenge is a fun one: ‘A Song To Drive To.’ So many ways to go with this.
My initial thought was a song that you play while driving fast down an open road in broad daylight. A couple of thematically and musically appropriate choices came to me right away: Rihanna’s ‘Shut Up and Drive‘ and Sing Street’s ‘Drive It Like You Stole It.’ Another obvious one is a song I consider the epitome of open road tunes, Tom Petty’s ‘Runnin’ Down a Dream.’
Brad Paisley vs. Lana Del Rey seems like an entirely left-field matchup in Montauk Madness, but given Paisley’s track record of collaboration, I would not be at all shocked if these two paired up on his next album.
Paisley was the first true country artist I loved, a journey I chronicled in this blog entry after the release of American Saturday Night. That album and the few that preceded it are all classics of the genre.
I never expected to like Lana Del Rey as much as I do. I originally thought of her as little more than a curiosity, a pretty face focused on style over substance who flamed out hilariously on Saturday Night Live.
But high critical praise for her 2014 album Ultraviolence prompted me to buy it, and I was blown away by the lush instrumentation, sneakily passionate vocals and nuanced lyrics. I promptly bought her earlier releases and found them equally compelling.
‘Off to the Races,’ the second track on Lana Del Rey’s 2012 album Born to Die, is equal parts sultry and street, a blend of Nabokov’s Lolita and a thug life Bonnie & Clyde.
The Lolita references, appearing throughout, were an early indicator that Del Rey had more serious, literary concerns than anybody gave her credit for. It was easy to dismiss her as a lightweight based on her looks and the damsel in distress image she projected, but a closer look at her songs shows real depth and craft.
Best Songs of 2015 – #3
‘The Blackest Day’ – Lana Del Rey
I knew a Lana Del Rey song would show up somewhere in my top five. The problem was deciding which one.
Del Rey’s fourth full-length record, Honeymoon, sits atop my list of last year’s best albums because it is so remarkably consistent from start to finish. Every track complements the others. It’s an album in the old-fashioned sense, not just a collection of songs.
I’ve always said that pretty much any Lana Del Rey song could be a James Bond theme. Her music is so lush and seductive, so retro romantic, that it’s made to play against floating silhouettes of guns and naked women.
It’s no surprise, then, that the Bond producers asked Del Rey to write a song for their latest film, Spectre. They wound up passing on her contribution in favor of Sam Smith’s ‘Writing on the Wall’ (big mistake, IMO). Today’s SOTD is assumed to be the track she wrote for the film (Spectre is the 24th Bond movie, and the musical and lyrical content are certainly in the ballpark). It would’ve worked like gangbusters.