“Do you think if I go blonde we could get our old love back?”
Lana Del Rey is currently having a difficult time fitting into the present music industry due to the fact that the topics she sings about do not fit the current political and social landscape. This has caused her to change parts of her persona that are deeply tied to her identity as a singer. For example, in 2017, she announced that she will not use the American flag in her performances or visuals because of the general disappointment the public felt towards the United States’ political actions at the time. However, Del Rey always seems to fall back on her attempts to rebrand herself due to her own actions. In May 2020, she posted an essay on Instagram complaining about other artists like Doja Cat, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé and several others being able to sing about “feeling beautiful” in a bad relationship while she has been “crucified” and has been told she’s “glamorizing abuse” by the public. Del Rey’s essay made it seem like she’d been oppressed, but in reality, she actually hasn’t experienced the setbacks many of the artists of color she referenced to have experienced. These sentiments made many people feel upset, and Del Rey has since been trying to mend her relationship with the public.
“There we were, screamin’, Black Lives Matter”
Without a doubt, Lana Del Rey’s new album, “Blue Banisters,” is beautiful. It is filled with pain and the desire to be loved, but it feels like a different Lana. The typical topics she sings about are presented throughout the album: daddy issues in “Textbook,” drug addiction in “Dealer” and romanticizing everyday American life in “Violets for Roses” and “Arcadia.” Yet, she randomly brings up Black Lives Matter in “Textbook” with no clear purpose. The song is talking about a relationship the singer entered with an older man, and presenting Black Lives Matter in the song seems very much as a way for Del Rey to prove to her fans that she is on the right side of politics.
“You can’t be a muse and be happy, too”
The listeners of Lana Del Rey’s music have to understand that the person the public knows as Lana does not exist. “Lana Del Rey” is a persona used by Elizabeth Grant to create music. The persona gained popularity in the early 2010s through Tumblr, and since then, Grant has been keeping up the facade of Lana. As time has passed, Grant has slowly expressed how difficult it is to be two people. This album has definitely exposed a part of Grant that she has kept hidden. Snippets in songs seem to give insight into the struggles she is experiencing, given that she is no longer young and has constantly been scrutinized since she entered the music industry. Of course, there is an element of desperation because she needs people to like her. This is why there is the theme throughout the album of wanting others to approve and accept who someone is, yet this isn’t always received and instead leads to pain.
“I can turn blue into something”
This is the beginning of Lana Del Rey finding her niche in the current music world. However, don’t listen to Lana Del Rey expecting to hear music about the world we know. Her music focuses on an America that is a dark fantasy where women are constantly on the run with a broken heart and finding trouble. Lana Del Rey turns America into a myth, much like she is a myth. However, her new album gives listeners a chance to understand parts of the lore she builds. The album carries Del Rey’s listeners to emotional places that gut one’s soul, but it isn’t ugly; it’s beautiful. Every song has the use of piano keys, giving them a softness, but also features percussion throughout to give the songs an intensity.. No one can transform a line like “I don’t want to live” into an awe-inspiring sound, or somehow bring comfort to a bad situation, like in the song “Sweet Carolina,” the way Lana Del Rey does.
Verdict: “Blue Banisters” is worth listening to. The album explores a new side to Lana Del Rey’s music and presents the vulnerabilities she has hidden in a very poetic manner.