I’m sure you can tell I’m too big of a fan of Lana Del Rey, despite the glamorous slant of death, drugs and even abuse. These are her darkest songs – a list I made, of course, on tumblr.
10. Jealous Girl
This unreleased song is at the bottom of the list because it’s the least harmful in the sense that it’s a fun song with cheerleader-esque chanting and the vibe of a spiteful teen clinging onto her crush. What makes this dark, to me, is when you read into the lyrics and piece them together so it becomes less of a bop and more of a promise to keep a tight hold of the object of her affection. Lyrics such as “If I can’t have you, baby, no one else in this world can” and also “be aggressive, b – e aggressive” spring to mind a dangerous or violent girl who will do whatever she wants to keep a guy only hers much like Adrian in The Crush. I like this vibe and the darkness underneath the perky cheerleader shell of the song, but it’s undeniable that it’s almost scary how determined Lana sounds – and uninhibited.
9. Serial Killer
This song is less obvious, aside from the title, when it comes to being an obsessive romantic, but it still does hold some dark lyrics. Although it’s a fan favourite and always fun to sing along to, I find that some of what Lana sings is quite frightening: that she “loves [someone] just a little too much”, showing an unhealthy relationship or feelings; “So I murder love in the night” and “On the warpath” are other more pronounced offerings. I know it’s metaphorical, and not actually about murdering various men because she loves them, but if you even forget taking the lyrics literally and just focus on her feelings towards men and relationships, it gives the song a darker twist. The casual way she’s “sipping cherry Cola” as she muses about watching men fall shows that there’s something unhealthy there. However, I can’t get fully disturbed by this song or consider it a truly dark song because knowing it’s a metaphor obviously weakens the effect.
8. Dark Paradise
Dark Paradise is one of her saddest songs – a lonesome cry for a lost lover – but I didn’t realise just how dark it was until I really started listening closely. It’s sad enough – and dark enough – that she’s still unable to let go of the love, but the line “I wish I was dead” makes it more impactful. The wish for her own death casts a shadow across the whole song and paints a very realistic picture of a woman who just can’t stand it that he isn’t there any more. I didn’t actually realise she was referring to a dead lover rather than just a break-up or him going to prison or something because I didn’t hear the “dead like you” line just before the chorus until about a year after I originally heard the song. The entire song, based on a dead man and the suicidal feelings that follow can be too much if I really think about it.
Carmen is a song about a seventeen-year-old alcoholic girl who likes to wander the streets at night and is possibly a prostitute. That is the basic reason why this song is on the list. The girl, being such a young age, makes it darker as she is barely an adult and already drinks too much and puts herself in dangerous situations. As Lana used to be an alcoholic in her youth, it makes this song quite sad and almost disturbing knowing that she had a lot of insight to the emotions she’s singing about; other sad parts of the song include how she is admired by so many but she is hiding so many difficult things and says she is “dying”. It’s a sad story and, if you pull yourself away from the incredible music, vocals and lyrics, causes concern towards this (possibly) fictional character who deserves so much more than she has let herself have.
6. Out With A Bang
This song, back from the fresh-faced May Jailer days, is a simple song – just a girl and her guitar – but carries dark elements to it. The quick pace of the guitar matched with Lana’s darker voice and strain-whispered vocals give it a darker, edgier sound, but also the theme: going out with a bang, which could be interpreted as a spectacular or fabulous suicide (I am not glorifying suicide by saying that, it’s just song interpretation). The final chorus is what really hits me though, where Lana (or May) describes herself and a partner walking into the water and drowning themselves, before breathily explaining that they’re “going out with a bang”. This element of suicide, particularly in a way that will get attention (as is the meaning of ‘out with a bang’) makes it feel so dark and almost spooky, particularly with Lana’s singing.
5. Is This Happiness?
I picked this because I saw many people mention this as one of her darkest songs, and after revising the lyrics I have to agree. The flowing piano, the distant vocals and, of course, the lyrics make this a sad and emotional song. The confusion about whether or not they are happy in their relationship, the mention of him “lik[ing] to rage”, the drug-taking (”taking violet pills”), and the possibility that she is either in a dangerous relationship or he is suicidal (”got your gun, I’ve got my dad” and “one gun on the table, headshot if you’re able”) weave throughout this song of a difficult man to love. It’s these lyrics mentioned that make it so dark, especially as it may be about a real life man.
4. Summertime Sadness
Another song where there’s a suicide interpretation (sorry). Summertime Sadness is about always loving and missing someone even when they aren’t there, and it’s not difficult to read between the lines and figure out it could be about losing someone to suicide. “Even if you’re gone” and “think I’ll miss you forever” are some of the lyrics that make me consider this, but also the music video where Jaime King jumps off a cliff and Lana, devastated by the loss, jumps off too. These visuals paired with this song make it quite clear to me that she has lost someone to suicide, and is also feeling something along the lines of suicidal herself – “I’ll die happy tonight.” Additionally, “kiss me hard before you go” (wanting one last sweet thing to remember them by) and “I just wanted you to know that baby you the best” (trying to tell the depressed person that they are worthy and loved and wanted) are other lyrics that lead me to this conclusion. Personally, I think Summertime Sadness is her darkest music video yet.
3. Boarding School
This is a chilled-out, ‘fun’ song about life at a boarding school – which, like Carmen, contains elements of Lana’s own history. Though it seems to be hyping up how cool the girls are at the boarding school, there’s so much in it that actually makes me feel uncomfortable listening to – and it’s difficult to make me do that with Lana’s music. I feel like in the wrong hands, this song could promote a lot of things that impressionable young girls should not be doing, such as drugs or having sex with teachers (which is paedophilia, obviously). This promotion (I’m not saying she wrote it to promote it, she probably was just doing it either for fun or to mock, I don’t know) of both paedophilia (which is referenced to several times throughout the song not as sex with a minor but as sex with teachers) and anorexia (taking drugs to stop food cravings because she’s a fan of the “pro-ana nation”) makes this song far more dark and troubling than a fun song about going to boarding school and being a wild Lolita-style girl, as much of what she sings about is realistically anything but fun.
I struggled to listen to Change for so long because it was too thought provoking for me: Change addresses the current state of the world and the possibility for nuclear bombs which, when you really think about it, is frightening. Though the song carries a hopeful note to it and calls for us to change our thinking to save us all, the line “there’s something in the wind, I can feel it blowing in, it’s coming in softly on the wings of a bomb” chills me. Knowing how realistic and close we can become to this kind of problem makes this song so dark and starts up a lot of worrying (in myself at least) so it’s definitely one of the darkest songs she has written.
I don’t have to explain this song and why it is number one: glorification of domestic abuse. Though I love the song and listen to it from the point of view of how some domestic abuse sufferers think (aka loving their partner no matter what and sticking by them due to the fear and manipulation) rather than Lana telling people she’s all for being hit because it feels like a kiss. However, it’s still horrid to imagine this woman feeling so in love with a man who calls her DN and poison (not the most insulting names but pretty rude all the same) and even going on to marry them (”blessed is this union”). The main line in this song that makes it so dark to me is “I can hear sirens, sirens” which makes me imagine that she has been beaten to the point of the police or an ambulance coming, yet she hears violins – a more beautiful and romantic sound rather than sirens, so she doesn’t seem to realise how bad the situation is. I love this song so much but Lana singing of being hurt “but it felt like true love” by her “cult leader” can be too much when I really ponder this song and what the lyrics mean.
I do write too briefly on these ‘tumblr’ posts, including on the starting paragraph, but these are past lists I made. If anyone has any suggestions for writing, feel free to let me know. I’m not even sure about how WordPress works – I stopped using it for too long.