We seem to be in the middle of a trend of carpe diem pop at the moment: “Till The World Ends, “Bad Girls,” “Die Young,” “Live While We’re Young.” And singing solemnly in the middle of it all, there’s Lana Del Rey with “Ride,” a haunting addition to the live fast, die young pop stratosphere.
For her stunning 10-minute accompanying video (trust me, pencil in time for this one today), the gorgeous songstress paints a narrative that is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring and optimistic.
As we watch Lana glide across the desert on a swing and smile on the back of a motorcycle on the open road in the video’s opening, she tells the tale of a nomadic singer–no home, no attachments–who makes her way across the country with a band of bikers, living in the moment with no regrets. It’s colored by truths culled from her own life experiences (“I was always an unusual girl”), staggeringly genius moments of introspection (“It takes getting everything you ever wanted and then losing it to know what true freedom is”), and truly devastating (if not way too real) writing:
“I once had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet. But upon an unfortunate series of events, saw those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again, sparkling and broken.”
The actual video for the song sees the opening monologue played out gorgeously, as Lana travels across the country singing at gigs and spending time with her bad boy bikers. It’s a Kerouac-esque tale of Lana finding herself out on the open road, bolstered by only the most fitting visuals: Cheap motels, pinball halls, desert highways, guns and American flags…the stuff of that vintage Americana that Born To Die is all about.
Like a sobering, glitter-less account of Ke$ha‘s own life of bearded bikers and nighttime debauchery in the desert (headdresses included), “Ride” delivers the kind of cohesion and emotional complexity Gaga dreams she could accomplish in her own half-hour video epics as of late. I don’t mean to use this video as a platform for shade, but in a lot of ways, I feel like Lana delivers the same message of life as art and self-creation that Gaga often tries too hard to perpetuate.
There are roughly a million lines that ought to be mentioned here, but in doing so, I would only be quoting the entire video.
Kudos to director Anthony Mandler for shooting one of the best videos in his already illustrious career, and kudos to Lana Del Rey for proving that she truly is fucking crazy. (Crazy brilliant, that is.) She’s somehow bested the masterpiece for “National Anthem,” making this easily the greatest video of her career…so far. Truly, the word “Masterpiece” feels like an understatement.
As Madonna would say, words are useless. So just watch…and ride.
“Live fast, die young, be wild and have fun…”
“Ride” was released on September 25. (iTunes)