Kaeleigh Morrison

REVIEW: Lana Del Rey – “Ride”

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At first, the metaphor-riddled monologues bookending “Ride” are directionless, artificial, and seem to be just another “complex” persona that LDR has adopted just as easily as her own luxurious, seaside-inspired moniker. The ten-minute video begins with a parade of clips, displaying a Lolita-esque character drifting between liquor stores, street corners, and long stretches of Mojave interstate. We are introduced to a girl dreaming of singing as a lounge entertainer, a “beautiful poet,” or someone of artistic importance but “in an unfortunate series of events” has failed to reach those goals, and instead continues to ride away from her past on the backs of Harleys of men she claims are the “only summer” in the “winter of [her] life.” The nameless vagrant reveals the provocative history of prostitution that became her life instead of the “dazzling and broken” dreams that were “dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky.”

Del Rey and Justin Parker teamed up on Born To Die: Paradise Edition to knock out nine new compositions that, based purely on leaked clips, amplify everything that is Lana: moody, drug-drenched drama. Parker was granted and Ivor Novello award for his work on LDR’s viral hit, Video Games, and manages to weave hints of the same hit-promising magic into the stars-n-stripes of Paradise Edition‘s featured single. “Ride” begins with Lana’s sultry, echoey moans layered over epic-yet-simple, piano notes. Poppy bass and uplifting violins juxtapose Del Rey’s breathy Marilyn Monroe-inspired vocals, “you can be my full-time, daddy/ white and gold/ singing blues has been getting old.” The duo has taken an interesting new approach to songwriting on this album. LDR sounds grounded and self-righteous on this track, not dizzyingly cocky, coquettish, or broken like she does in most of Born To Die. Zippy violins accelerate into “Ride”‘s catchy chorus, “I hear the birds on the summer breeze, I drive fast, I am alone in the night.” The song’s lyrics speak of dying young, being alone, and spontaneity as another addiction she has grown tired of yet turns to often to ignore the “war in her mind.”

Critics have claimed that Del Rey has settled comfortably on a character used in a previous music video. In “Born To Die,” while we see Del Rey in tattered shorts and red high-top converse, getting taken advantage of by a young man plastered in tattoos, she still moonlights as a rose-crowned, tiger princess for half the video. Although LDR has demonstrated an indulgent influence in 50’s and 60’s Americana themes and fashion, we have yet to see Lana take on a project so inelegant and gritty as what she has released in “Ride.” Many might find that Lana is simply embracing her “chameleon soul” once again and transforming from the excessively glamorous and self-indulgent diva we know now into a trailer-trash-meets-noir-femme-fatale persona.

“Every night I used to pray that I’d find my people — and finally I did — on the open road. We had nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore — except to make our lives a work of art. Live fast. Die Young. Be Wild. And Have Fun.”- “Ride” monologue.

This excerpt from “Ride”‘s monologue closely mirrors an interview conducted by the Huffington Post after Del Rey’s release of Kill Kill where she speaks about the time she spent living in a trailer park outside of New York City.

I didn’t feel trapped in a trailer park. … Everyone there had the same taste as I did. We all liked giant, lush, fake flower gardens and liked to decorate the walls with streamers even if it wasn’t our birthday. I couldn’t have been happier there.

“Ride” draws heavy and obvious inspiration from her life before she became Lana Del Rey, with references to her tweenage alcohol dependency, being sent to a rehabilitative boarding school, and all the rest that molded the bleach blonde, thin-lipped Lizzy Grant into the ostentatious, flamey scarlet that has authored in another series of Billboard-worthy tracks. Perhaps LDR is responding to the articles, tweets, and posts bashing her career as insincere and manufactured, and following the music scene’s trend towards the authentic and personable.

Genuine or not, Del Rey’s nine track release, available as a standalone LP titled Paradise as well as part of an overflowing boxed set of LDR goodies, hits shelves November 12th.

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