It’s been another big year for cinematic singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey; having recorded and released a cover of Sleeping Beauty’s Once Upon A Dream for the soundtrack of international blockbuster Maleficent, and the release of her third studio album Ultraviolence, noted by herself as being stripped down but still as cinematic and dark as her previous releases. The self-proclaimed “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” has released the third single from the album, title-track Ultraviolence.
The opening bars have Lana written all over it; the drama of the strings and the simplicity of the chords played on the piano sets the tone, which is somewhat typical of Del Rey’s musical style. The song strips down further when the verse kicks in, focusing on the luscious tones delivered by the vocal; the pre-chorus is reinforced by a vocal wall, before the beat kicks in and leads us into the haunting chorus. Lyrically the song is descriptive of a poisonous relationship, reminiscent of a courtship enveloped in domestic violence. Notably, the chorus contains the line “he hit me but it felt like a kiss”, cleverly referencing a 1962 hit by The Crystals of the same name; Lana is known to reference pop culture, particularly from that era. Also notable is that the video was filmed entirely on an iPhone, which is ultra cool!
Overall, Ultraviolence is a stand out track by Lana Del Rey; the eeriness created through instrumentation is quite fitting for a song of its nature, you find yourself visualising the situation in your mind as the song and its tone progresses. There’s some banter that Lana glorifies domestic violence through the lyrical content of this track, but it seems that she is simply stating that the violence is all the protagonist feels that is left of their defective relationship and how hard it is to leave. Ultraviolence is a track that makes you think and use your imagination, listeners are bound to interpret its meaning in their own way; Lana’s done it again.