I was very, very excited when I heard there was a new Lana Del Rey single out. I even Tweeted about my excitement. That’s how excited I was. I was excited because I reviewed her debut album Born to Die some months ago, and I really, really didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all, in fact. I don’t like this new track much, either.
This new single is characterised by all the same things which made me hate her debut album: the cliché-riddled lyrics (‘We’re the masters of our own fate/We’re the captains of our own soul’. That’s shit, and I don’t care whether she stole it from ), the quasi-intense baroque pop for which Rey is famed, and the irritating feeling that she’s written this song just for angsty teenagers who think they’re living in a sepia-filtered perfume advert. You know, like this one. According to an interview held on BBC Radio 2 back in February, Rey said her new album—which will include this single as its title track—was inspired by music from the fifties and sixties. I’m yet to figure out whether she’s talking about the swing revival or the rock ‘n’ roll revolution, because I can’t hear either of those influences on this baroque piece of garbage. She also said the political landscape had been shaping her music. It certainly doesn’t get more political than ‘Take off, take off/Take off all your clothes’.
The Weeknd doesn’t manage to drag this track from the depths of musical squalor, either. I actually liked some of his early stuff, but over the last few years his work has declined rather dramatically (culminating, perhaps, in his multiple collaborations with Rey). He hardly even feels like he’s on this song, competing as he is with Del’s cutesy whining. He manages to break through somewhat towards the second half of the song, but even then it sounds like Rey’s got his balls in a vice.
But really—as it always seems to be with Lana Del Rey—it’s the lyrics that aggravate me the most. The production and instrumentation sounds much the same as Rey’s early stuff—big, orchestral pop music, with mellow verses and hard-hitting, intense choruses, huge string arrangements, all played painstakingly slowly. But lines like ‘My boyfriend’s back/And he’s cooler than ever’ and ‘We dance on the H/Of the Hollywood sign’ annoy me so much it’s actually difficult to put it into words. The lack of creativity in these pseudo-hipster lyrics is astounding. It sounds as though she’s opened up Pinterest, followed a bunch of the most basic fuckwits she can, and written a song based around their daily inspirational quote posts.
I fail to pinpoint many redeeming features of this track. In keeping with Rey’s musical style, the instrumentation is lethargic and soaked in reverb. Del Rey’s drawling, schoolgirl voice is aggravating in a very visceral sense, and The Weeknd has had significantly better vocal performances, though at least he seems to be able to stay on key. And then, out of nowhere, the song simply ends, with The Weeknd squealing out his final ‘ooh’s, as though the producers were so sick of listening to it they couldn’t even be bothered to produce an outro. And then there’s the video: The Weeknd and Del Rey fondling each other on top of the Hollywood sign (on the H, obviously), ostensibly as a d33p nod to an actress named Peg Entwhistle who died after throwing herself off of it.
I can’t wait for a whole album’s worth of this shit to come out. I dread the day Lana releases a track I enjoy. As your boyfriend’s back, Rey, can’t you just go watch Netflix with him or something?