Lana Del Rey: Drugs, Sex, and the American Dream

Photographer:  Nicole Nodland

Source of picture: http://www.stereogum.com

She takes to the stage with an air of dreamy languor about her, wearing a loose sweater over a pair of jeans. But her videos portray her as a sophisticated hedonist, living life as if it were a work of art.

Before gaining fame with her debut single Video Games, Elizabeth Grant was merely an aspiring singer and songwriter striving to fulfill her American Dream. While the launch of the album Born to Die has catapulted Del Rey’s popularity across continents, her songs are not exactly in congruence with this sense of accomplishment. She breaks through the veneer of the American Dream and invites us into the world of drugs, gambling and uninhibited sexual fantasies.

Del Rey gives us an image of a charismatic young woman, living off rich men’s money while spoiling them with her sexual prowess. She falls in love, but it always seems to happen in the wrong place or at the wrong time. There are no ordinary love songs in the album, but rather Born to Die deals with a continuous soul-searching journey, where the persona tries to find true love in a world of hedonism, vanity and greed.

Despite the album’s depiction of bleakness that America seems to hold for aspiring artists, Del Rey exhibits a strong sense of national pride in her music. References to the star-spangled banner and American rock icons crop up in most of her songs. Perhaps it’s America’s overt sexual freedom that fuels Del Rey’s tribute to her homeland. One can easily deduce that Del Rey’s songs are generally about casual sex, but only if the listener fails to acknowledge the singer’s idea of sex being a way of exercising one’s freedom.

Del Rey’s low, smoky voice, underlined by a strong sense of wistfulness and nostalgia, takes listeners on a trip down memory lane. Her lyrics evoke the carefree youth in all of us, reminding us of those long summer days we spent getting high on drugs, booze, and wild sex.

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