Even the most die-hard Lana Del Rey fans are sometimes surprised when they discover how long she's been in the business. Most people think of 2012's Born to Die as her first album, but the truth is that LDR released two albums under different names prior to her breakout hit. As a result, there are a ton of hidden Lana Del Rey songs that most people don't know about, and they're actually pretty good.
Her actual first album, Sirens, came out in 2005 under the pseudonym "May Jailer." Her second album, A.K.A. Lizzy Grant, came out in 2010 under her real name Lizzy Grant (which failed miserably). It was around this time that Grant gave birth to the stage persona Lana Del Rey that we know and love today. While most remnants of her past were initially cleansed from the Internet in the wake of her initial rise to stardom, these days it's not as difficult to find those tracks — and they are well worth the listen. The old songs disprove one of the biggest criticisms consistently hurled at LDR — namely that her sound and persona were completely manufactured by Interscope, and that she's actually some music industry puppet.
Watch her perform in the time before she had a record deal, and you'll see that her sound, tone, and style have actually been her own for years. Here are some of the best Lana Del Rey songs that you probably don't know about.
"Kinda Outta Luck"
If there's one thing Jailer/Grant/Del Rey has always loved, it's old noir movies. This song starts out like one of her usual somber melodies about an abusive man, then picks up into something that almost resembles early No Doubt.
"She's Not Me"
It's a little strange how much more dance-centric some of her early songs are. The top of this song sounds like something straight off of Ultraviolence before transitioning into a David Guetta-esque beat.
"Driving In Cars With Boys"
If I didn't know any better, I would think that Garbage's Shirley Manson wrote this song...
"Pawn Shop Blues"
Oh my goodness, that hair. Yes, early Del Rey tried rocking the Marilyn look, and it wasn't amazing. Looks aside, however, this is one of the best songs on this list. It most closely resembles where her songwriting sensibilities have been the past year (albeit it's a little more upbeat than her newest stuff).
"Put Me In A Movie" (performed as Lizzy Grant)
If this proves anything, it's that Lana Del Rey's nostalgic tendencies are anything but new.
"Mermaid Motel" (performed as Lizzy Grant)
The production values aren't amazing, but, if the sound were mixed so that the drums and guitars weren't overpowering her vocals, it would sound almost exactly like her song "Sad Girl."
"For You (For Charlie)" (performed as May Jailer)
Del Rey took a while to figure out exactly what she wanted to do with her voice. This isn't a bad song, but it sounds exactly like Jenny Lewis meets '90s era Jewel. What the what!? Who knew she had a folk singer's heart beneath all that mascara and melancholy? Diehard Lana Del Rey fans, that's who.