It would take you less than a week to catch on to the fact that I deeply adore Lana Del Rey and her music if you were to know me in real life, so of course there would come a moment where I write about her songs. I have already attempted three posts on other muscians I love (Tom Odell and James Bay), so it would only make sense (to myself) to write about my favourite artist.
Florida Kilos is a fairly random place for me to start when beginning to write about LDR, as it isn’t a single that has been on the charts – instead it is a bonus track on her album Ultraviolence, and one that I didn’t find until over a year after its appearance. However, there are hundreds of Lana songs that are unreleased, many of them difficult to track down, so discovering many of Del Rey’s songs is like stumbling upon a fiver you didn’t know you had in your back pocket.
Florida Kilos fits quite snugly on Ultraviolence – an album of dark and pictureqsue lyrics and clean instrumentals. It begins with a simplistic, lonesome guitar that brings a plucky American vibe, later joined by a quietly beating drum paired with a sharp kick that makes the track a snappy, summery tune. The music itself, as a whole, is swaying, the kind that helps one invision the high and free people of Miami dancing along in joy for their drugs.
One of the things that help create this summery feel is Lana Del Rey’s voice – sweet and babyish as she sings of her “daddy” and uses innocent, pretty terms to describe her drugs – “turnin’ diamonds into snow”. It’s this paired with the youthful “yayo” following each chorus, almost a sing-a-long, sway-a-long tune, that adds to the carefree vibe of the song – possibly a reflection of today’s drug culture where it becomes the norm within social groups to take drugs for recreational purposes, all part of the fun.
Del Rey’s voice has often been used in this ‘youthful’ way to demonstrate her Lolita-based character – a young woman who is in love with an older, more powerful man (or ‘daddy’) who can control her with just as much ease as she can seduce him with her innocent charms. Other songs that have included this theme have been Off To The Races, Lolita and Diet Mountain Dew – though many of her songs include this storyline, echoing the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (her lyrics occasionally reference.
This is fascinating to me, the way she portrays a character in her songs, using her music to tell a story. Though this ‘character’ seems to appear in Florida Kilos, there are certainly people who relate to the thoughts, feelings and actions described in the song – the taking of drugs, the idea that Miami is the place to be if you want to live fast and free, the thrill of doing something illegal (lyrics include: “Prison isn’t nothing to me”).
As someone who does not take drugs and has a negative opinion of them, I don’t feel the connection between myself and the song, but I do enjoy her lyrics – in all her songs. Del Rey has a way with words, using visually pleasing words that create stunning imagery mentally when listening, and it is easy to see she is a woman who is keen to share beauty: she used to make her own music videos using cinematic clips, and her newer music videos are admirable.
However, back on the topic of the Florida Kilos lyrics, many stand out to me as being simply beautiful, for example: “Guns in the summertime, drink a Cherry Cola lime” or “White lines, pretty baby, tattoos”. For a theme I don’t agree with (drugs), I find the words she uses to create the vivid and attractive mental images inspriring.
Lana Del Rey is a wonder at writing lyrics – again, most likely due to her own possible inspiration of old-fashioned Hollywood movies and noir – and this makes me love both her and her music even more. As a writer myself (though it’s more me *wishing* I could make it as a talented one) I admire the way she uses her words, even on a topic I don’t agree with.
I’m still new at this review thing, I don’t know how to finish it.