Del Rey’s Dark Side Disturbing

Lexie Reinecke, Staff Writer

Singer Lana Del Rey has long been acclaimed for her retro-influenced style, however, the artist’s darker side has recently gained national attention. With self-proclaimed suicidal musings and anti-feminist lyrics, Del Rey has proven to be more than an American Idol.

In a June 2014 interview with The Guardian, Del Rey explicitly stated, “I wish I was dead already.” In another interview, with Fader magazine, she said there’d been times when she was, “You know, a mess. I totally wanted to kill myself every day.” In a Nylon article she mentioned Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley, and Jim Morrison, all musicians who died before 30, as inspiration. Del Rey said, “I mean, we talk about these people like we know them. They’re a part of our relationship. We always say, ‘All of our friends are dead and they never knew us.'”

She’s rumored to have aspirations for joining The Club 27, a group of people who kill themselves before what they see as the unglamorous age of 30. The point of the club is, in simple terms, to never grow old.

Suicide is a dark subject woven throughout much of her music. In her song “Summertime Sadness,” one line reads, “Nothing scares me anymore” while another states, “I know if I go, I’ll die happy tonight.” Her 2012 song “Dark Paradise” says, “I wish I was dead (dead like you)” and, “Every time I close my eyes, it’s like a dark paradise. No one compares to you, I’m scared that you won’t be waiting on the other side.” Her music videos for “Born to Die” and “Summertime Sadness” both showcase her suicidal affliction, displaying her playing a corpse in one, and falling off a bridge in another.

Her music has a strange, almost underwater quality to it, and stands in stark contrast to the fast, rap-heavy tone of most popular music. For this, her style has been called both cinematic and nostalgic, with sounds similar to music from the 1950’s and 1960’s.

True to her mid 20th century style, many of her songs promote male-dominated relationships. She constantly makes references to being treated as a child in a relationship, and even mentions violence. This is conspicuous in her single “Ultraviolence” in which she croons, “He hit me and it felt like a kiss.” In her song “American” she portrays a helpless, young figure when she says, “Just like a baby, spin me ’round like a child.” Her view on male dependence is also evident in her song “Video Games”, in which she sings, “It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you, everything I do. . .They say that the world was built for two, only worth living if somebody is loving you.”

Singer Lorde spoke in 2013 with Fader about the new star. Lorde said, “She’s great, but I listened to that Lana Del Rey record and the whole time I was just thinking it’s so unhealthy for young girls to be listening to, you know: ‘I’m nothing without you.’ This sort of shirt-tugging, desperate, don’t leave me stuff. That’s not a good thing for young girls, even young people, to hear.”

In her own interview with Fader, Del Rey explained, “For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept. . . Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, God. I’m just not really that interested.” She said a similar thing in an Electronic Beats post, when she commented, “The thing is, I don’t really have any commentary on the female’s role in society.”

Despite disturbing aspects of her life and career, Del Rey’s national pride is unquestioned. Much of modern music is about moving towards the future, but Del Rey dives into her country’s history. In channeling lounge singers and jazz, she proves to be not only interested in the past, but a reincarnation of it. She’s payed homage to various eras, as well as American icons such as the Fitzgerald’s, the Kennedy’s, and Marilyn Monroe. In 2014 she crooned her song “Young and Beautiful” for the soundtrack of the new Gatsby film, and following her Jazz Age nod, she centered her music video for “National Anthem” on JFK’s assassination.

That’s why she stands as an important figure today; she represents simpler times, she delivers the past, but most of all, she gives us, through everything from her looks to lyrics, a conveniently pre-packaged America. Faulted? Yes. Crazy? Possibly.

But that’s the point. It’s not a done-up idolization. It’s an accurate depiction. As Ayesha Siddiqi, the editor-in-chief of The New Inquiry, put it, “Lana Del Rey gives us a patriotism we can act out. Hers isn’t a love song to America; it’s a how-to manual.”

While Del Rey’s patriotism is admirable, her music brings us back to darker times in our country’s history, times when women were treated as inferior, were dependent on men, and found suicide a solution for lack of attention.