Earlier this week, the critically-acclaimed artist Lana Del Rey released her new single, “Lust for Life.” Featuring the prolific, soulful The Weeknd, the song is a mix of calm and peaceful tempos, and a majestic, earth-shattering chorus. After two days of availability to the public, the song is already on Spotify’s United States Top 50 playlist.
Alongside her other single, “Love,” this marks a shift from her previous subject material and artistic theme. She’s hinted at the songs for her upcoming album as being more centered around the current issues of today, politically and socially. There have even been comments made over social media about the mere title of her album and new single. The title, “Lust for Life,” is nearly a complete 180 from Del Rey’s first album, “Born to Die.” While her torchy, vintage image and angelic vocals have been a constant, her lost, lovelorn sentiments may be put on the backburner.
“I made my first four albums for me, but this one is for my fans and about where I hope we are all headed,” Del Rey said in a press interview.
Despite being under high scrutiny, criticized for a shaky SNL performance and an artificial image, her perseverance and continuing success has led others to rethink their criticism. All of her albums have been commercial successes, and each one has been subject to high praise from numerous outlets.
I first began listening to Lana Del Rey in 2013. After a brief (tragic) phase of being a hardcore country music fan, I became more intrigued by indie-alternative music and the vast umbrella of sounds that the genre encompasses.
After hearing “American,” “Radio” and “National Anthem,” I was an instant, enamored fan. Equally appealing to me were her music videos—veiled in grainy camera filters, touting daring escapades and magnifying the subtleties of her mysterious persona.
Big-lipped and hauntingly beautiful, I was, and still am, put into a trance of nirvana and empowerment from listening to her masterpieces of songs. Usually about love, they are complex and introspective, usually tinged with hints of darkness and longing.
While her persona is definitely one that has been cultivated and created by Del Rey for herself, I can’t help but admire this more than criticize. To create and embody the life that you’ve wanted to create for yourself is the mark of a true artist, and does not seem fake or artificial to me—in fact, it seems almost more natural than what she could’ve done otherwise, as it is completely, wholly her creation that she is expressing.
While “Lust for Life” seems to be a new direction for Del Rey, it is also very much a song that could only be done by her. It’s grandeur, while elevated by The Weeknd, thrives mostly from Lana Del Rey’s out-of-this-world tone and amazing lyricism.
More than anything, her songs convey, to me, a person who is on a search for the deeper things in life, and for freedom. While she is certainly a unique, interesting person, she’s also just great at manifesting through music what it means to be human.