young, dope, and proud: the evolution of american themes in lana del rey's artistry



It’s 2012, and Lana Del Rey is new to the public eye following the release of Born to Die, her second studio album. Her cinematic style sets her apart from other popular musicians, and along with her style, she brings 1950s Hollywood to the present. Her lyrics make clear that she is not shy about expressing her pride for her country. Now, in 2017, there has been a shift in these themes. Let’s go back to the beginning:


Lana Del Rey arrived on the music scene with versions of a perfect America. America was the place where everything was beautiful and always had been: a place to be proud of. In her music videos and live performances, the American flag was often present. An example is an iconic shot in the “Ride” music video of her holding an American flag above her head. The flag is also closely associated with the song “Born to Die,” as the music video begins with her and a man together in front of one, and an American flag was always used as a background during her live performances of the song. “I fall asleep in an American flag,” she sings in “Cola.” America was always with her in her world.


Now it is 2017, and that confidence has changed. Under the Trump administration, Del Rey is not proud of America. In an interview with Pitchfork, Del Rey explained that under the new regime, being so openly patriotic and “romantic” about America feels “uncomfortable.” Del Rey took to music to express her discomfort in the current political climate. Her most recent album, Lust for Life, was released on July 21st, and mentions of America did not seem glamorous at all, unlike previous albums. Instead, she wonders, “Is it the end of America?” in “When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing.” Though fear is currently prevalent in America, she focuses on fighting for what one believes in. “The lyrics were a reminder not to shut down or shut off, or just don’t talk about things. It was more like stay vigilant and keep dancing,” she said to Flaunt Magazine. Another track on Lust for Life, “God Bless America - And All The Beautiful Women In It,” was written in anticipation of what would happen during the Women’s Marches, Del Rey revealed in an interview with ELLE. In 2017, Lana Del Rey’s America is not glamorous or utopian, but rather a work in progress, and she has made clear that in order to move forward as a country, we have to unite and keep fighting for what is right. ✉


article by: meera singh

visual by: lana del rey - ride

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