At this point in time, Lana Del Rey is a little like a pouty, adult contemporary version of Kenny: the question in her music videos is not whether she will meet a bad end, but how.
When we last parted ways with our beloved South Park, Colorado resident, she was lamenting the death of her great love, JFK Rocky, who got shot because that’s the way it happened in history, and probably also because he was black, but mainly because true love always ends in traaaaagedy. “Summertime Sadness” has her switching teams to see if things go any better with a female lover, played by American actress Jaime King. (Spoiler alert: they do not!)
Directed by King’s husband Kyle Newman, the video consists mainly of the same Instagram-filtered clips of the couple in happier times played over and over again, interspersed with some of King crying and killing herself
for unknown reasons BECAUSE DEATH IS LOVE IS ART, while Lana lurks in some misty alternate dimension that is probably heaven. (OR IS IT HELL?) In fact, the footage is so repetitive that I’m not sure this isn’t actually some kind of teaser video for the actual video, so apologies if I’m wrong.
However, the repetitive footage might be forgiven when you consider it’s just mirroring the plodding and repetitive nature of the song, which consists of the same ABA construction for nearly five minutes. Props for throwing in a teeny bridge this time, though. I mean that. Bridges are an endangered species.
If I seem like I just plain do not like Lana Del Rey, it’s only for very concrete and arguable reasons. Her cooing baby voice and throaty reaching-for-the-notes voice grate on me on an aesthetic level, and her apparent resignation to being trapped within misogynistic archetypes (even though they cause oh so much pain) grates on an intellectual one. I also think she intentionally undermines her own self-serious tone with phrasing like “suh suh summertime, summertime sadness” and “oh…my god.” That said, I do think Ms. Del Rey is smarter than a lot of people give her credit for, and we have to remember she’s really young. I think she could still pleasantly surprise us if she stops being defensive long enough to take the constructive criticism folks are doling out. Perhaps she will come to some different, less passive conclusions about things, or if she already has come to those conclusions, I hope she’ll convey it more effectively.