Our informed readers, who frequently alert us to worthwhile items we missed, didn’t tell us about this one! You guys are slipping!
Just over a month ago, indie pop artist Lana Del Rey released an almost 8-minute music video for a track called National Anthem, from her second studio album Born to Die.
It was released as a single on July 6 through Interscope Records.
The video is essentially a revisionist take on the JFK years in the White House, until his assassination, as seen through the eyes of his wife, Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
What’s most interesting about this lengthy music video is that, while Del Rey herself plays both Jackie and Marilyn Monroe, New York-based rapper A$AP Rocky, plays JFK. He’s black by the way, as you can see in the photo above.
How’s that for a twist?
Naturally, as you can imagine, the video caused a bit of a stir. It’s been played over 5.6 million times on YouTube alone.
Del Rey, who I must admit, is foreign to me (I don’t know anything about her, nor her music) has quite an interesting background of her own, based on what I read; from what appears to be a privileged upbringing, attended private, boarding school in Connecticut, learned to play the guitar in her late teens, studied Metaphysics in college at Fordham University, then worked in community service (homeless outreach, drug and alcohol rehabilitation) immediately after college, and has been a professional musician really since 2005. And, by the way, she’s just 26 years old.
Her real name is Elizabeth Woolridge Grant; her “stage name” is Lana Del Rey. How did she come up with it? My immediate thought was that it sounded like a porn star’s name. But she said she picked it because:
“I wanted a name I could shape the music towards. I was going to Miami quite a lot at the time, speaking a lot of Spanish with my friends from Cuba – Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue.”
Since the release of the music video for National Anthem, many have analyzed and critiqued it, trying to make sense of it, and Ms Del Rey’s motivations.
The director of the video, Anthony Mandler, had this to say about Del Rey’s vision for it (he said she came up with the concept for it, and wrote the treatment):
“[She’s] really interested in exploring this loss of innocence, this idea that what you think you’re experiencing is maybe not what it’s always going to be. Because when you say ‘Kennedy,’ that immediately evokes something, just like when I say ‘It’s a Romeo and Juliet story.’ So I think using that power, that pedigree of the story is a really fascinating place to show the loss of something, the breakdown of something.”
Del Rey herself called it the most beautiful thing she’s ever done.
I’m going to intentionally leave out my commentary this time around, and let you guys watch and decide for yourselves. I give you all this information, so that when you do watch it, you’ll do so armed with relevant info, which may (or may not) inform your reception of it.
Is it loaded with both social and political commentary, as some have suggested, or is it all just surface, meant to stir up discussion about the content and its creator? Watch it all the way through.