10 Amazing Unreleased Lana Del Rey Songs
I absolutely recommend that you listen to this song, as it encompasses everything that is Lana. She controversially draws a lot of inspiration from the novel Lolita, and the title 1949 alludes to the year-long journey that Humbert and Lolita embark on in 1949, starting in July.
Lana sings as Lolita in this song, but she is only applying the concept of Lolita to a real-life, legal "sugar-daddy" situation. She does not mean to endorse paedophilia, but essentially draws aspects of inspiration from the idea of an older man taking a school-age girl on a road trip and relates it to herself and her boyfriend, since she presents herself as playful and young.
Lana croons "we're gonna party like it's 1949, we're in the Pontiac from July to July": In the novel, Humbert managed to take Lolita away with him for the first time in July, and they spent a year travelling around America.
A constant bittersweet theme in Lolita is that Humbert will eventually be caught and imprisoned, cutting their affair short. Lana conveys this with the lyrics "on our last vacation, we're gonna see it all before we say goodbye"; she's suggesting that her fling with this current guy will be short-lived, but she regards it as something playful so doesn't mind much.
2. Velvet Crowbar
This is Lana's tragic account of her codeine-addicted lover. We assume that he is older than her and carelessly hedonistic. The velvet crowbar metaphor is meant to depict that life will eventually "hit you over the head", but that it is often hard to detect this before it's too late. This is true in the case of Lana's lover; she sings "you're bleeding syrup amour, bleeding to death". The most common way to consume codeine is in the form of cough syrup mixed up with soft drinks. He has clearly enjoyed a life of debauchery, but the party is almost over.
Lana sings "you're like crack to me, I don't want to leave"; she is watching her lover in the final stages of his crippling addiction, but is ironically intoxicated herself, by his love, and is unable to detach.
The main message of this song is conveyed by the lyrics "flame coloured paradise for you darling, but death doesn't come with a warning". The idea of a flame-coloured paradise is taken directly from the novel Lolita, which Lana loves to emulate, and is a metaphor for the combination of chaos, misery and bliss that her man has brought her throughout their crazy relationship. She is softly reminding him that even he is not invincible, and that death is ready to take him.
3. Boarding School
This song is an atrociously comical ode to all the troubled teenagers. Lana was sent away to a boarding school by her parents when she was 14, in the hope that she would sober up and party less. She ended up misbehaving even more there and experimenting with drugs. Here, Lana is clever and satirical, mocking the suburban American parents' inclination to send their misbehaving kids to boarding schools that appear posh and wholesome on the outside, but where the students are actually unhappy, mentally ill and druggy.
She still clearly holds some resentment towards her parents for sending her away from her friends to a notorious rich, druggy boarding school, and this is conveyed in her energetically sarcastic tone. The chorus "everyone from home says that you're so cool, come on everybody to the boarding school" is harshly delivered; she is saying that boarding schools are full of problematic, wild teenagers that are envied and emulated by their peers, but she is also angered at how easy it is for rich parents to sign their kids off to these establishments. After all, it didn't do her any good.
She starts the first verse with "let's do drugs, make love with our teachers"; self-explanatory, this line is her way of saying that these schools can't and don't want to control the "problem kids" that get sent to them. In fact, if her lyrics are literal, they are doing the opposite. She follows this with "I'm a fan of pro-ana nation, had to do drugs to stop the food cravings"; there is a lot wrong with these lyrics, but we realise that Lana is singing bitterly ironically and angrily, instead of actually glamorising eating disorders. She hates that boarding school culture promotes unhealthy beliefs.
Lana also criticises that posh schools neglect their students' mental health, yet tell them that they can achieve anything they set their heart on. She sarcastically sings "Yale's not a problem, let's solve it.. get down like your tutor taught you to and do it". This could be unironic and refer to having to work hard in order succeed, but it is more likely that Lana is unimpressed at the number of inappropriate student-tutor relationships in boarding schools, and is playing with words. If tutors weren't so busy flirting with their older students, maybe they would actually have a chance at getting into Yale.
4. Hawaiian Tropic
This song is very true to Lana's original aesthetic. It paints a picture of relaxed, suburban California, with palm trees, Cadillacs and, in Lana's case, heavy intoxication; a bittersweet combination of the trailer trash lifestyle and some contrasting opulence. Lana plays around with this contrast, and references it directly with lyrics like "a bottle of Jack in the Cadillac", showing that she loves being classless and classy at the same time.
She describes herself as a "coca-cola kid, rollercoaster child", once again heavily drawing inspiration from Lolita. She is certain that this man is the one for her, calling him her "one true king" and alluding to the idea that he is many years her senior and protective, i.e. a sugar daddy.
Lana's clearly infatuated with all things nocturnal and needs an element of craziness in order to feel alive; she sings "Copacabana, yes, in my party dress, I'm shimmering in love, on that crystal meth". Copacabana is the ultimate nightlife haven, full of aspiring starlets and wealthy men. "Shimmering in love" is fantastic way to describe a powerful stimulant high - the user will feel as if they are "floating" on a wave of euphoria and power, and that they are utterly in love with the world and the people around them. It is all-consuming and incompatible with the real world, and Lana certainly enjoys it.
She wistfully ends the song with the line "I remember party dresses... every man gets his wish, but sometimes it comes too late". I suspect that Lana's man died before she was able to truly love him, so she is left with druggy, hazy memories of their partying days and the regret that she didn't take their relationship further while she still could.
Children of the Bad Revolution
5. Children Of The Bad Revolution
Children of the Bad Revolution is so polished that it could be from one of her studio albums. It encompasses a certain streak of ambition that her other songs don't include; instead of revelling in drugs and her own misery, Lana is rejoicing the life that she leads, singing "we're gonna get free, free, free". She is enjoying an existence centred around partying, but is sure that she and her friends will be able to escape it one day.
She describes her relationship with the line "notorious and wild, takes me where I'm gonna shine"; it is clear that, yet again, she is dating an older man who drives her around and is infatuated with her youth and wild nature (she even calls herself "a flashy little lush"). She sings "we're children of the bad revolution, and partying's our only solution".
This song has a lovely flow. It accurately portrays how teenagers, hipsters and party girls enjoy their little niche of society, but hope that one day they will be able to move onto better things.
6. Dangerous Girl
This is a personal favourite of mine and contains some really endearing lyrics. "We're living off the grid, shining in the crime light" has to be one of my favourite Lana lines of all time, as it is seriously poetic (crime light instead of lime light) and it alludes to a wild lifestyle, but a glamorously wild lifestyle. In this song, we learn that Lana is living unconventionally with her man as a crazy "dangerous girl".
Lana calls her boyfriend her "drugstore cowboy, Italian alloy, classical American". Even though he is of Italian blood, he lives in Brooklyn and is considered an American, especially due to his financial success. Following this, she describes herself as "America's Sweetheart, cute, delicious, sweet tart, sipping on my diet coke, singing in the trailer park". Lana loves being with a man who can appreciate her girlish ways, once again linking back to her love of the novel Lolita.
This song is full of some of Lana's wittiest lines, including "he's the get rich quick type, mafioso hit type, girl, I'm gonna marry him!" and "we're born to kill, best of the best, the new Wild West". Aesthetic-wise, it's very 1960s Americana and flirtatious, with a sincerity reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe and her romantic endeavours.
7. TV In Black & White
This song is a desperate plea to her imprisoned ex-boyfriend. It shows Lana's deluded side; initially, with lyrics like "remember Coney Island" and "prison isn't gonna keep me from you", we assume that their relationship is still alive. However, then she slips in the line "use your one phone call on your ex-girl, boo", and we are aware that her infatuation is one-sided and that, actually, they are no longer a couple. We see that their relationship was turbulent and drug-fuelled, consistent with her ex ending up in prison.
Lana adores him and emotively coos "living without you is like TV in black and white". It is clear that she is still head-over-heels in love, unable to face the facts that he is in prison and their relationship has run its natural course.
She shows that she puts him on an unhealthy pedestal, with the line "troubles come in threes, but in your case, they come in millions, and trillions, but that's alright". She's subserviently accepting, and even romanticising, the problematic way that he has treated her. It is no wonder that she struggles to get over him when she is so psychologically unstable.
8. Heavy Hitter
Lana sings in a sultry, Marilyn Monroe tone in this song. She dreamily recounts "I was lounging in the Chateau Marmont, glimmering by the swimmering pool". She loves to draw inspiration from 1960s cinematic Hollywood, and nothing does this better than a mention of Chateau Marmont. This is also a elegant ode to Lolita, as Humbert took Lolita to fancy hotels, watched her swim and called her his "glimmering darling".
This song quickly turns dark, as Lana sings "I overdosed, you threw me over your shoulder", revealing to us just how dangerously up-and-down her lifestyle and relationships are.
Heavy Hitter is extremely drug-influenced, as Lana enticingly calls herself the "Queen of Alchemy", claiming that she knows a way "to make gold by mixing our souls to escape reality". When two people take drugs together, they lose their individual egos and feel that their souls have been combined, and this experience can seem beautiful (hence "gold").
Lana tells her man "open up your butterfly doors, heavy hitter". She wants to be swept away by his money and luxe (butterfly doors are only seen on very high-performance cars). Finally, she says "let's change our DNA" - it is likely that she is hinting at heroin use.
Hollywood is dreamily upbeat. Lana conveys her desire to spend her days "getting high with her friends in Hollywood". She is convinced that she is invincible and is romanticising her love for drugs and debauchery, instead of targeting her underlying issues.
She tells us "when the sun descends, I dive into the waves again, in Hollywood"; this says it all, indicating that Lana lives for the Californian nightlife, only truly feeling alive when she is dressed up and intoxicated.
Not ashamed of her sketchy lifestyle, she proudly states that she is "shooting heroin and speedballs", speedballs being a deadly, euphoria-inducing combination of cocaine and heroin. Lana is obliviously living in the moment, rejoicing at her heart racing from the drugs instead of worrying about bodily damage, and sings "I was built to last". This is something that many famous singers believed in their time, but substance abuse caught up with all of them.
Jealous Girl - Lana Del Rey
10. Jealous Girl
Jealous Girl is refreshingly punchy; instead of accepting her lover's problematic personality, Lana sings "you say you want your own life, well I do, too". He may try and threaten her by alluding that he has "the itch", and wants more independence, but she is clear that she wants the same and is not going to hold him back. Lana's not subservient in this relationship, telling him "no-one's better than I am".
The line "baby I'm a gangster too, and it takes two to tango" is her way of telling her man that she and him are both fierce and potentially unfaithful, but that they will have a good time as long as that they accept this in their relationship.
This song is an ode to her female friends, with sharp iterations lines like of "come on girls, say it loud, tell him that it's over now". She tells them to be aggressive, and to show their men that they are the leaders.
© 2016 Lucy