Lana Del Rey – Video Games/Blue Jeans(Stranger Records)



Is Lana Del Rey officially the first buzz artist to secure primetime radio play, a stint in the US iTunes singles chart, a show-stopping spot on Later… with Jools Holland and a simultaneous trending topic on Twitter all off the back of one Youtube video? It’s certainly fairytale-esque, and predictably it’s got the blogosphere sneeringly declaring her as the industry’s latest factory line product, a retro-Barbie cut to look and sound (uncannily, it has to be said) like Nancy Sinatra. The fact that she was, until late 2010, putting out an EP of fairly similar material under her real name (Lizzy Grant) to little or no commercial success, then scrapping a whole album recorded with David Kahne before this quote unquote rebirth, isn’t exactly throwing them off the scent.

Of course, all scorn is rendered absolutely moot when you realise that Video Games is one of the most striking and interesting singles of the decade so far, the kind of startlingly evocative but also original master class that we’re lucky if we get once a year. It’s draped in the kind of luxurious, apocalyptic orchestration that no-one’s really pulled off since the days of Dusty and.. well, Nancy, but even better are the more subtle touches; check out the almost inaudible washes of ambient bass that herald each already momentous line of the chorus.

Nestled amongst all this is Lana/Lizzy herself. She’s singing about a high profile relationship, but does she love her beau, or hate him? The first verse is peppered with sarcastic putdowns delivered with a sneer (‘Go play a video game’, brilliantly deployed without an accompanying setup line), but by the time the chorus comes around she’s glassy eyed and declaring that ‘heaven is a place on earth with you.’ Our answer comes with an almost throwaway line, as her suddenly high voice takes on an extra air of vulnerability and she asks ‘I heard that you like the bad girls, honey / Is that true?’ Happier scenes colour the second verse like a series of photographs (‘Kissing in the blue dark / Playing pool and wild darts’), but the melancholy that Lana’s stunning, deep voice instils in every line leaves us with the sense that she’s only happy because she knows she’s supposed to be. She ends with ‘Only worth living if somebody is loving you,’ and softly repeats ‘Now you do’, almost to herself. Is she trying to kid him, us or herself?

Any worries that we’re dealing with a lucky win are swiftly dispatched by the B-Side, Blue Jeans, a more intimate and defiantly modern take on a similar idea; essentially a guide to how to put this sort of thing to a beat (not as easy as you’d think, judging by Jamie Woon’s spectacularly misjudged Video Games remix). It’s sexy, addictive and packed with gorgeous hooks. It perhaps lacks Video Games’ impact and originality, but it’s got enough tricks to graduate way, way past the standard quality level of your average B-side.

So, she might well be a fembot, a coldly calculated industry weapon aimed at a previously non-existent demographic that encapsulates both hipsters and radio audiences. If so, the suits are bringing their A game.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.