Lana Del Rey is like a living, breathing '40s-era starlight. She screams old Hollywood, and infuses all of her music will sultry, noir-tinged Americana. Some find her brand cheesy, sure — but I find it addictive. She combines the old school with the modern in a way that makes the world feel like its way more retro cool than it actually is — and nowhere is this more apparent than in Lana Del Rey's many music videos. They all follow a certain formula: America references, nods to classic Hollywood, and Del Rey looking immaculately vintage. It's a good formula that requires zero tweaking — but, that does not mean all Del Rey videos are created equal though.
Just like any other artist, Del Rey has had her ups and downs when it comes to translating her music into video form. While most of her videos tell a stylish story, some of them are not so compelling, either because they are too familiar or Del Rey went a little too far into David Lynch territory. Below, I have ranked all of the official Del Rey videos, from the bizarre to the wonderfully bizarre.
Now let's dive into some Del Rey goodness.
12. "Shades of Cool"
Like a '70s nightmare complete with psychedelics, "Shades of Cool" is less cool and more of a bad trip you just want to wake up from. The somber landscapes Del Rey's older gentleman wanders through lack the dusty, old west feel she's known for, and the effects are just a hazy mess. No bueno.
11. "National Anthem"
I love the song, but I am not down with Del Rey appropriating clips from one of America's biggest tragedies, the Kennedy assassination, for a song about a doomed love story. I get that Americana is her bread and butter, but she has used it in less uncomfortable ways.
10. "West Coast"
"West Coast" is a tad on the empty side. It's got a lot of classic Del Rey iconography, but I miss the pops of colors that are generally seen in her other videos.
9. "Chelsea Hotel No. 2"
Stripped down and haunting, the video for this cover is sparse, but it hits you straight in the heart. It's proof that even without her trademarks, Del Rey has major talent.
8. "Blue Jeans"
The sexiness is real in "Blue Jeans." It's not overly artsy, but it doesn't need to be. It's all about Del Rey, her tattooed man, and all the suggestive things they get up to in their pool.
I love when Del Rey goes minimalist. The results can be stunning, just like they are in "Ultraviolence." Shot like an old film you might find in your grandparent's attic, the dark lyrics combine with the gentle imagery of a bride walking, perhaps unknowingly, into a horrible marriage to produce a music video that makes anyone's heart ache.
6. "Young And Beautiful"
The artistic nature of "Young and Beautiful" sets it apart. It has that old Hollywood vibe, but it is also dreamy and reminiscent of a French New Wave film in the way it uses color and obscures faces. This sucker was made to be picked apart by film school students.
5. "Summertime Sadness"
When I think of Del Rey, I think of crackling film, the west coast, and vintage style, which makes "Summertime Sadness" the quintessential Del Rey video. It encompasses all of her quirks, and puts them together in a coherent, visually compelling video.
Del Rey's short film is ripe with metaphors. From Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden of Eden into modern day Los Angeles to the use of America's greatest icons: Jesus, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and John Wayne, "Tropico" is imaginative and grasping at greatness. There are even feminist undertones at work, as Eve (Del Rey) gives birth to the world we live in — the good and the bad. It's a stunning short film, but as a music video, it is not Del Rey's best work — even though it is a huge creative achievement.
Clocking in at 10 minutes, "Ride" could be a short film — and, in many ways, it is. From the spoken word poetry at the beginning to the story of a woman who belongs to no one and everyone, "Ride" has a clear narrative. It's also authentically raw in a way that makes it feel incredibly personal to Del Rey, as if she's revealing a part of herself she usually keeps secret.
2. "Born to Die"
Part Game of Thrones, part Friday Night Lights, "Born to Die" is grand and earthy. The contradictions result in an epic video (and a pretty sweet song, too).
1. "Video Games"
Could the number one video be anything other than "Video Games"? This video screams Del Rey and for most people it was their introduction to her mysterious, lovely personality. The mix of old footage, Los Angeles, and Del Rey herself makes this sucker a classic. The song itself is stripped down which juxtaposes with the over-stimulation of the video's barrage of images perfectly.
This video is Lana Del Rey.