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Lana Del Rey - Bringing Noir To Music

Lana Del Rey, Pretty When You Cry (Official Video) YouTube

I've been a major fan of Lana Del Rey's for several years - at least since I first posted about her, with her remarkable music videos, Carmen and National Anthem, in July 2012.

I find her music now even stronger, and her recent videos (below) for her songs Pretty When You Cry and West Coast, are as powerful as the songs themselves.

It may seem an odd comparison, but Lana Del Rey seems perhaps the female answer to Bruce Springsteen, when he is at his best as an American storyteller - his early albums, the magnificent Nebraska and songs like 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), capture a highly distinctive vision of blue-collar America.

Lana Del Rey, Pretty When You Cry (Official Video) YouTube

Lana Del Rey is the first musician to truly introduce the concept of noir to popular songs. Her songs are about love and sadness and joy (Summertime Sadness, for instance), but the joy is always tempered with a sense of either foreboding or loss (Carmen), and her videos very distinctly reflect the dark, clutching-redemption-out-of-suffering vision that her songs communicate so strongly.

The powerfully noir style of her Pretty When You Cry video captures the biting sensuality of Bogart-Bacall at their most classic, while the tempo/mood/age swings of West Coast have a dreamlike, disturbing, David Lynch quality to them (with perhaps a hint of Roy Orbison).

Her lyrics strike just the right tone - as with the phrase "Queens of Saigon" from West Coast:

Down on the West Coast
They got their icons
Their silver starlets,
Their Queens of Saigon

I think the best is still to come with Lana Del Rey, and I cannot wait to see how she develops further. For a hint of how affecting her music can be, read this touching personal story about how Lana Del Rey's Blue Velvet broke through his father's Alzheimer's, by Chris Perkes (from the Guardian; middle story on page).

In the meantime, please listen and watch.


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