By Blaine Payer `18
Lana Del Rey used to be queen of somber, melodic music, but the 31 year-old pop-rock star seems to have turned a page in her career.
On April 11, the singer-songwriter released the cover for her fourth album, Lust for Life, which s displays with a full-mouth smile, marking a huge departure from her previous, more serious album covers.
Critics and fans alike are not used to this new side of Del Rey. While some find it optimistic and refreshing, others are worried that such a dramatic shift will betray who she is as an artist. With two bright new singles, a cheery new album cover, and a late May album release date set, it seems like Lana Del Rey is looking to make 2017 the happiest year of her life.
Del Rey released “Love,” her first single since her very successful third album, Honeymoon, on Feb. 11. It received overwhelming praise from critics, with Pitchfork placing it at number one on their Best New Track list for the week. Thematically, it is one of her most positive songs (not written about California), celebrating the experience of love that everyone should have at least once in their lives.
Seeing as how she has written two albums and an EP about the same ex-boyfriend who spent years hurting her, it is surprising that she is now choosing to see the positive sides of love. Saying that things don’t matter because “it’s enough to be young and in love,” is a stark contrast from her earlier songs like “Ultraviolence,” in which her crooning voice announces to the listener that “He hit me and it felt like true love.”
Her new positive outlook spills over onto the album cover, which shows her jovially leaning against a 1950s pickup truck, dressed from head to toe in flower child garb, just in time for Coachella. The first time listeners saw Del Rey, she was somberly staring down the camera on the cover of her freshman album Born to Die.
Even the titles suggest a wholehearted shift away from the sadness and pain that made everyone fall in love with her back in 2011. Her new bright smile and peaceful attire seem to say that she has moved on from her dark past and is ready to embrace a bright future.
In an interview with The Dapifer, Del Rey opened up about how the politics of the past year completely changed the original direction of the album, which she wanted to have a ’50s-’60s vibe. “As the climate kept on getting more heated politically, I found lyrically everything was just directed towards that.”
She follows by stating her desire to speak to her younger audience, who need happiness and optimism now more than ever. Her newest single, “Lust for Life,” which she recorded with The Weeknd, showcases the very carefree joy that she desires, with a chorus revolving around going to the top of the Hollywood sign and taking all of your clothes off.
So far, this new, happier Del Rey is being met with nothing but warmth and praise. However, for someone who has made an entire career out of being sad and vengeful, this thematic change spells uncertainty for the future. Will anything of hers ever match the solemn desperation of Born to Die? Is Del Rey finally ready to leave the past behind, and if so, where will she go from here?