Who is Lana Del Rey? Is she Lizzy Grant, Sparkle Jump Rope Queen, or one of the other pseudonyms that she used while performing in New York city clubs only several years ago? Questions about Lana’s authenticity reached a fever pitch in 2012, with some decrying what they saw as her corporately constructed version of hipsterdom, and even questioning the integrity of her body. With the beautifully lush video for her latest single “Ride,” Lana indirectly addresses speculations about her shifting identity, while offering a visual love letter to America and a barely-veiled description of the lonely transient touring life of a newly minted pop starlet
In the languid monologue that opens the video’s shots of neon–lit urban decay and sun-stroked open highways, Lana describes being “a singer, not a very popular one, who once had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet,” and laments how ”there’s no use in talking to people who have a home; they have no idea what it’s like to seek safety in other people, for home to be wherever you lie your head.” Though Lana isn’t really playing herself in the video, the gist of her moody soliloquy is clear: being a pop star who is constantly on the road can be lonely and sad, even as all of your supposed dreams are becoming real. Over the course of the video, she appears as a drifter, biker, killer, and lounge performer; she floats through a vast sprawling American landscape that is as varied as her own identities. A rebellious biker girl on the western freeway, an enigmatic chanteuse onstage, and a lonely transient on the dirty city streets, Lana changes with each new locale. She is all of these people, and in being so, is none of them fully. She is neither Lizzy Grant, nor Lana Del Rey, nor her earliest incarnation as May Jailer, but a nebulous entity who can perform whatever role is desired of her. After all, this is exactly what pop stars do, and it is America and its endless sense of possibilities that lets them do it. E pluribus unum: out of many, one. America is truly one nation, under pop. “I believe in the country America used to be. I believe in the person I want to become,” Lana intones towards the end of the video. Thanks, Lizzy. It all makes sense now.
Lana fans: check out OurStage artist Sheila Star for more sultry pop tunes.
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