I started off writing a very negative review of this new Lana Del Rey single from The Great Gatsby soundtrack. I wrote about the lyrics being sub par and Lana practically slurring half of them with her peculiar pronunciation. But then a funny thing happened. After listening to the song nearly 10 times, I found myself liking it. I tried to focus on the review I was writing, but with each word I wrote I felt like I was becoming a bigger and bigger liar. So, I deleted that review and I’m serving you this instead.
Written by Lana and hit-maker Rick Nowels, it starts off with ominous bells and eerie strings, giving off a bit of a James Bond theme song vibe. In fact, it continues to give off that vibe when Lana begins singing. “I’ve seen the world, done it all, had my cake now, diamonds, brilliant, and Bel-Air now,” she croons, actually having the gall to rhyme “now” with “now.” But what initially put me off was that I felt like she was bragging about these things. Even if she’s singing from the perspective of a character in the movie, which is based on one of my least favorite books of all-time, it just struck me as someone bragging about their extravagant lifestyle. But, eventually, I was able to quote unquote hear the lyrics in the way they’re obviously intended; this is the story of someone looking back on her life, wondering if she’ll have anything left when she’s “no longer young and beautiful.” “Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul,” she sings, essentially pleading, while massive beats that call to mind Craig Armstrong strike like thunder. Then she answers her own question: “I know you will, I know you will.” I think that put me off at first, too. It just seemed conceited. Don’t sing this song about fearing you’ll no longer be loved when you get old if you already know that you will be. Answering her own question seemed to render the rest of the lyrics pointless. But, again, it grew on me. I think it just finally occurred to me that she might not be so sure that that’s her answer, that she might just be telling herself that because it’s what she wants to believe. Looking at the song from that perspective, seeing it as someone lying to herself, gave it added depth, something the song sorely needed. Not musically — the production is gorgeous if not immaculate — I’m talking specifically about Lana’s lyrics and her fairly deadpan delivery. It’s hard not to cringe when she sings lines like, “Oh that grace, oh that body, oh that face makes me wanna party.” I mean, c’mon, go to any bar on any night of the week and you’ll hear guys using smarter pick up lines than that. Most of these lyrics sound like they could have been written by a 12 year old. But that question, “will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful,” lingered in my head more and more after each listen. Combined with the dark, creepy music, it’s ultimately haunting. And it’s the haunting factor that makes up for the rest of the lyrics and how uninspired she sounds singing them. Not to mention the fact that she doesn’t even attempt any high notes here; we all know she isn’t Streisand, but a little effort goes a long way and one gets the impression that she phoned this in. But, yes, I like it. I do. Logically, I know I shouldn’t. It’s a mess, really. But it’s consumed me to the point that I now enjoy hearing it loop inside of my head. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it, and you probably should, but if you give it a few listens then I suspect it’ll overcome you.