You may have noticed that the internet explodes every time Lana Del Rey does anything. I’ve never quite understood this. Her decision to adopt a fake name and maintain a consistent, artificial persona is not exactly groundbreaking, you know?
I mean, yes: She’s interesting. It’s interesting that she’s so thoroughly committed to being a 1960s-1970s vacuous suburban folk goddess. She runs that Virgin Suicides/Faded Flower Girl line through her music, her videos, and her styling, even while she sings about her vagina tasting like Pepsi. It’s interesting that she balances this carefully constructed, retro emptiness with these lyrics about fucking. She’s covering familiar ground, but she’s doing it with a high level of polish.
But is Lana Del Rey that interesting? I’m seriously asking because I still don’t get it. Everyone from Lady Gaga to Marilyn Monroe to the dandies of the 19th century have made a career out of performing a public persona and backing up their weirdness with a little talent. But if you see what I’m missing—if you see what makes Del Rey’s version of the performance so different—then please tell me. I really don’t mean that in a snarky way. I’m just confused.
ANYWAY: The cycle continues with “Ride,” the latest single and video from the extended “Paradise Edition” of her album Born To Die. The video is really a ten minute short film that casts Del Rey as a failed singer (irony!) who is remembering her wild summer traveling around the country with a biker gang. It’s basically Easy Rider with more instrumentation.
And already, people are flipping out about the image of LDR in a Native American headdress, sporting a gun while she sings about being “fucking crazy.” And again… yeah. That’s a striking image. But in the context of this little movie, it’s not that surprising. Or at least, it doesn’t seem subversive or intentionally designed to shock. In the context of this story, it makes sense for a character like Del Rey’s to wear a goofy costume and sport a pistol to impress those boys. It’s just what you do when you’re out drinking with a biker gang. And this is hardly the first story about beautiful people expressing their inner wildness through drink and/or violence and/or motorcycles. Where would FX be without those stories?
To me, the most memorable thing about this video is the song, which is lyrically intense but musically restrained and alluring. I like that contrast, and I also like the supple production. The slinky durms and Del Rey’s quavering high notes do a good job evoking the smoky era of mellow rock. I’d be happy just to listen to the song without the visuals attached:
Mark Blankenship has never had hair that curly. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship.