Monday, 30 December 2013

Lana Del Rey ♔ American Dreams & Marilyn Monroe

I got into Lana's work a while before she hit the whole 'mainstream' scene of the industry, which sounds very pseudo-hipster of me, but my point is, I got some time to truly lavish myself with every little beautiful image she instilled within me with her descriptions. She gave everything the opportunity to be beautiful, the potential to be glamorous, the moment of appreciation it deserved. I feel like she's a great part of why I became so interested in documenting moments that possessed some strange sense of magic to me. Music or poetry or just words in general have two values, one that the writer believes her work is worth and the other is on the other end of the chain; the receiver. Sometimes people are confused by my love for analyzing pieces of text or poetry or in this case, Lana's seemingly solemn and melancholic music. And I love that, for some reason.

It's almost electrifying to be able to delve into the ideas of the lie of the American dream, her wild, playful, sometimes almost Lolita-esque stories of school and friendships and what she conceived to be love. To be able to sit in the pitch darkness of my room in our new house in Morocco over summer and almost transport myself into her world and her life through her lyrics. That place was new to me and it was a walk's distance from the beach with the trees giving it a very Californian feel, so the association I made between her poetry and the location led me into living this technicolor dream for the month or two I was there. I was more content daydreaming up the most opulent events, moments, scenes, memories.

Lana's music is a huge contribution to the way I'm starting to want to visually represent things a lot more, recently, rather than just write about them. There's a great amount of beauty in words, that's unquestionable, but sometimes I want to see the image in my head of being drenched in sunlight actually physically recreated or reenacted. I want to feel it all come to life, for it to stun me with the way it turns out to be, because it will never be just the way I imagined it and there is some sense of allure in that. I want to be able to step into my own fantasy quite literally. Her pure essence and the vintage flare of all her audiovisuals creates these short films in my head that are always playing everytime I listen to her music.

It's a new experience for me because music was never quite this surreal. I had always loved it, but my sacred experience had always been with books. Books were what spurred that desire to spend my life in someone else's head for a while. To adapt a new character and see things through their eyes because they've showed me something I had never seen before, and that mesmerizes me. I love being exposed to a new way of looking at anything because that keeps life vibrant and exciting and more than just this quest to get through it alive. It was about the journey and not the destination, so why not make the best out of the journey while we're here.

In addition to the inspiration and imagery I get from her words, I love that the lyrics are the focus of her music. The instruments are simply accompanying her vocals, complimenting them even. Also, her music is a collection of anecdotes. It's not how profound her sentence structure is, it's what I make of it and how it makes me feel and what thoughts it brings along with it, after all that's all that matters to me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is meaning.

What also influences how I feel about her music are the themes she talks about and portrays, like the concepts of innocence and purity, respect and poise, youth and recklessness, icons and romanticism, beauty and perishing, obsession and addiction, wealth and notoriety. Which is a collection of everything that captivates me because she's not a put-together, flawless persona, she created the character of Lana del Rey to be able to tell any story she wanted to tell and live the life she fantasized about even if it was just temporarily through her music and its theatrical touch. And there is something evocative about that.

What got me to write this was the fact that I was watching a documentary about Marilyn Monroe and they included the clip of her singing Happy Birthday to JFK. That reminded me of Lana's 'National Anthem' and how her concept for the video is the exploration of the loss of innocence, this idea that what seemed perfect from the outside was maybe rotting from the inside; such as the triangle of MM, Jackie O and Jack Kennedy. The video built up on that archetype and the director of the video, Anthony Mandler, said that it wasn't a recreation of the death scene, "it was always about the person sitting next to him. It was always about seeing it through her eyes, seeing this kind of castle crumble in the moment and the pain in her eyes, that destruction"

And I love the way she brings back the pop culture of 1950s and '60s Americana along with stylizing her musical sound as 'Hollywood sadcore' and how it was 'movie music with a fairy-dusting of harp and an ominous timpani laid out over-top a hip hop vocal cadence.' It sounds beautiful and with the aesthetics being almost as equally important as the music, it looks beautiful too.

Elizabeth Grant as Lana del Rey as Marilyn Monroe

as Jackie Kennedy


I just felt the urge to explain what it is I love about Lana's music because many people see her as very sombre and funereal or very shallow and repetitive when her music and words' value is all up to the listener to decide. You can make it mean so much more, and I guess I get a thrill out of doing that.

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