There is music you listen to, and then there is music that listens to you. For me, Lana’s music is nothing short of being heard.
The spellbinding magic of Lana del Rey has captured the fancy of thousands of people since her ricocheting fame post Video Games. Since then, she has come under the scrutinising, scathing radar of the industry and the world in general for being the person(s) she portrays herself to be through her music. Funnily Lana never defends herself, instead she lets the world speculate. From one frantic personality to another, Lana’s quest for freedom from her own device is spelled out in each of her songs.
Lana’s trajectory as an artist from Born to Die to Lust for Life paints the picture of an artist growing from within- discarding what is done and retaining what she knows she can’t part with. In a way, I feel that’s the journey anyone who embarks on self-growth must go through. From pining for her lover to remembering her in “Blue Jeans”, to not being scared of casting him aside in In “My Feelings”, Lana’s transition reflects her artistic enrichment with each of her albums. But there’s something peculiar about Lana, always has been. The lived experiences embedded into her music resonates with her fans simply because it becomes an exercise in learning to hold on to one’s tragedies, to chart through the men in their lives amidst vying for success and fame- the ultimate struggle for the modern woman broken from within. Those feelings of emptiness, the hours of anticipating and the constant pining for something more- we are often too scared to showcase our vulnerabilities to the world. Lana tells us that it’s okay. It’s okay to revel in the craziness that consumes your thoughts, it’s okay to voice your affections, it’s okay to tell the world that you like being loved in a certain way and you’re unapologetic about it.
I remember reading in an article about Femme Fatales in Noir films that put forth the notion of them being portrayed as a destructive element within the society. It went on to describe how the Femme Fatale was the complete antithesis to the concept of the traditional woman, how her thoughts and aspirations were shrouded in mystery, how she was the Eve that led to the downfall of the man- the ultimate destroyer.
Femme Fatales are barely given a voice, they are mystified so as to make them seem impenetrable. But I look at Lana’s music and it seems to me like an account of the Femme Fatale- all the mysteries about her thoughts put to rest, she is here to tell you loud and clear who she is and what she wants. All the while taking hold of the Femme Fatale image in the most artful way possible, without compromising her growth into heavier and deeper dimensions which was showcased through her latest album Lust for Life.
Her aesthetics remain the same, that touch of “Old Americana” refuses to leave her side, while her coy and sultry self is unafraid to mix with her prosaic and badass stances. Her turbulent depictions of her relationships seem like a red flag to many, a provocation, a degradation to stay away from. But here is a woman who embraces it with pride, this is who she is, with her many flaws and her unflinching honesty and she is not afraid of flaunting it. Be it romancing older men or emotionally-distant jerks, to acknowledging that she may enjoy the perks that come from being a sugar baby; to not being afraid of showing her complete subjugation in love to being fierce enough to tell a man to fuck off when required- all the while not succumbing into the void.
Lana has wished for death but she also knows she will keep living, and as long as she does, she will be unapologetic about it. And none of it comes in the way of charting the ladder of success whose anthem is nothing but Money Power and Glory. She may even fuck her way to the top but don’t try to shame her for it, she has held this ruthless world by the balls, smiled a crooked smile and played along. Lana the Femme Fatale does not buy into condemnation for having ambitions and desires while vying for a tough man’s affections. Whether she’s dressed as a bride crooning about her twisted love or fishing out a gigantic gun to slay her demons, the Femme Fatale comes out, unhinged, proud of her “chameleon” personality that refuses to be boxed in.And hence she simply and unassumingly creates- her own sexuality, her own identity, her own success and her own love.
That is precisely what Lana’s music does, it listens to the darker parts that lurk within and assures us that it’s okay to be that way. And I believe that’s the only way we can continue our Lust of life in such trying times.
Written by Navamita Chandra