6 Best Lana Del Rey Cover Songs That Prove She Can Make Any Song Sound Even Better
Lana Del Rey seems like an anachronism, which is, for the most part, what she's going for. That big hair, those talon nails, and the heavy winged eyes punctuate her sad sound, which is often called "dream pop" to summarize the romantic mish-mash of soul, pop, jazz, blues and whatever the hell else she feels like throwing in there. And it works; ever since the girl formerly known as Lizzy Grant debuted her grainy, homemade collage video for "Video Games" in 2011, Del Rey has become ubiquitous for her sultry vibe and sad girl music that sounds like it's out of a daydream. And when she applies that aesthetic to something else, like when Lana Del Rey covers songs by other artists, well the result is usually amazing.
She's cited many influences to her sound, among them all the giants that you would expect: Nina Simone, Nirvana, Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse. So, it's no wonder that Del Rey loves making a cover song almost as much as she loves to fall in love with bad men. The 30-year-old singer definitely is brassy in her selection of covers; choosing songs to pay homage to from icons like Leonard Cohen and Nina Simone is nothing if not bold. But Del Rey doesn't disappoint, and her reimaginings of these tracks offer the beauty of the songs in a new light. Of course, she sticks to the dark stuff.
Here are six of Lana's best cover songs.
1. "Heart Shaped Box"
I know Courtney Love doesn't approve, but I personally really like Del Rey's cover of "Heart Shaped Box." I'll take the haters.
2. "Summer Wine"
Del Rey naming herself the "gangsta Nancy Sinatra" in 2012 elicited some side-eye, but her cover of Sinatra's glorious song "Summer Wine" maybe makes up for that a little bit. Del Rey sounds much more girlish than Sinatra, but in a good way that makes the song hers. Barrie-James O'Neill, Del Rey's fiancé at the time of the recording, sings Lee Hazelwood's part, and is a sweet match.
3. "Chelsea Hotel No. 2"
Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel No. 2" is so beautifully sad, a meditation about the comings and goings of those we love and then lose. Del Rey's own sadness is a seamless fit with lyrics like "But you got away, didn't you baby?," and it's nice to hear a softer, more melodic version of Cohen's original.
4. "The Other Woman"
It's no small task to take on a Nina Simone song to cover; how can you possibly do justice and pay homage to such a formidable legend? But I must concede, Lana's cover of Simone's "The Other Woman" does a fine job, her melancholy voice suited to the sad, trilling lyrics that ring with envy and unrequited love. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, but not as heartbreakingly sad as Simone's version — but can anyone break your heart more than she can? Del Rey's version is the last track on her newest album, Ultraviolence.
5. "Once Upon A Dream"
Of course Lana Del Rey did a song for the soundtrack for Maleficent, and she got the pièce de résistance, covering "Once Upon A Dream." It's a haunting, spooky rendition of the classic song that is Princess Aurora's theme from Sleeping Beauty, and Del Rey was handpicked by actress Angelina Jolie to record the sprawling, darkly fantastic version for the 2014 film.
6. "Blue Velvet"
My personal favorite, Lana Del Rey's version of "Blue Velvet" is super sexy and will make your heart ache. The song has been sung by many famous crooners, most notably Bobby Vinton, but Lana gives them all a run for their money; Rolling Stone called her cover "doleful and Lynchian," which, in my opinion, is a compliment of the tallest order.
While Lana Del Rey's own original music continues to make us feel dreamy and languorous, her covers are just as good, and I hope she finds time to keep making them; there are so many sad songs out there left to be Lana'ed.