And if this is it, she’s had a ball.
Sorry, #HotGirlSummer: Sad Girl Fall is rapidly approaching.
Lana Del Rey might currently inhabit our world, but it doesn’t feel like she actually belongs in it, like a depressed poet-turned-time-traveler with winged eyeliner who accidentally twirled her way into 2019.
And while there’s always a heavy dose of nostalgia in her music – it’s one of the signature characteristics of a Lana Del Record, like lyrical references to California, beaches, dresses and bad babies – there’s a heavy sense of finality to the latest offerings from Norman Fucking Rockwell: “Fuck It I Love You” and, more specifically, “The Greatest,” out on Thursday (August 22).
The first song was co-produced by Jack Antonoff, as well as collaborators Andrew Watt and Louis Bell, who’ve worked with everyone from Post Malone to Rita Ora. It’s the trippier of the two, gliding across dreary guitars and tripping drums in the stormy vein of Ultraviolence (and some space-age Honeymoon vibes too), as she reminisces about her substance-fueled origin story and breathily longs for her lover.
“I like to light up the stage with a song / Do shit to keep me turned on / But one day I woke up like ‘maybe I’ll do it differently’ / So I moved to California‚ but it’s just a state of mind / It turns out everywhere you go‚ you take yourself‚ that’s not a lie,” Lana solemnly reflects. Basically, you can take the girl out of New York, but…
“And if I wasn’t so fucked up, I think I’d fuck you all the time.” Is there a more delightfully Lana Del Lyric than this? How has she managed to consistently keep her foot on my neck lyrically for the past near decade? That’s just begging to be a selfie caption in the near future.
Oh, and speaking of selfies: Lana’s had a lot of fun in this modern world – the culture is #lit, as you know – but she’s burned out and signing off, after all.
Co-written solely with Jack, “The Greatest” is an immediate new favorite in her discography, as romantic and cinematic as the stuff of her debut, but less starry-eyed and vastly more worldweary than the girl she used to be.
This is the ultimate disillusionment anthem, essentially.
Ever the listless drifter, Lana wistfully looks back at the lives she lived before all this – back to New York, back with her friends, back at the bar where the Beach Boys would go. It’s kind of the death knell of the pre-social media generation: “Me and my friends‚ we miss rock ‘n’ roll / I want shit to feel just like it used to,” she murmurs.
“I’m facing the greatest / The greatest loss of them all…”
In the song’s final moments, she rattles through just some of the insanity of the current State of Things: “Oh, I just missed a fireball / L.A. is in flames‚ it’s getting hot / Kanye West is blond and gone / ‘Life on Mars’ ain’t just a song / Oh, the livestream’s almost on,” she deadpans, alluding to social media oversaturation, David Bowie‘s ode to daydreaming about less depressing life elsewhere, delusional idol worship and global warming all in one go.
There’s plenty more wrong with this country (she addressed gun violence on the fly one week before with “Looking For America”), and you can dwell further on that, or just surrender to getting lost in the song’s beautiful piano outro instead. (I suggest the latter, personally.)
A glass half full outlook? Perhaps not – not nearly as much as parts of 2017’s socially conscious Lust for Life like “Get Free,” anyway. I’ve never turned to her music for a sunny outlook, anyway. And yet, there she is, all smiles throughout the slightly surreal, slightly campy Rich Lee-directed double video for the two Norman Fucking Rockwell songs.
Is she signing off, for real? Hopefully not. It’s doubtful, anyway. She’s threatened to do as much in the past. But if this is it, she’d be logging out on a high note.
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