Back in 1998, when Lauryn Hill (still just Lauryn Hill sans the Ms.) released her seminal The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album, one of the many love-centric interludes in between each song focused on a group of kids being asked by their teacher to name some songs about love. One student proffered a title that was simply “Love,” to which his fellow pupils balked, “There ain’t no song called ‘Love.'” At the time, there was, in the form of John Lennon’s “Love,” originally off the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band record. Even so, now–for them new-fangled kids out there–there certainly and unquestionably is in the form of Lana Del Rey’s latest single, “Love” (formerly “Young and in Love,” but maybe she didn’t want to be ageist post-30th b-day).
As obsessed fans and even casual listeners alike had speculated for months, “Love” is another collaboration with producer Rick Nowels, who perfected her signature sound of epicness on Born to Die‘s “Summertime Sadness.” As such, it’s in keeping with Del Rey’s classic flair for the cinematic, as indicated by her teaser promotions for “Love” throughout Los Angeles via the plastering of old school-inspired movie posters that are probably meant to channel an Ingrid Bergman feel, but, in truth, comes across more as a Kate Beckinsale in Pearl Harbor feel.
Regardless of Del Rey’s standard execution of this type of visual promotion, the song itself is a continued showcase of her maturation of a very specific style. In numerous respects, Del Rey has carved out the same 60s-saturated niche for herself as Amy Winehouse, except, obviously, with the self-control not to self-destruct.
Her meticulousness in combination with her prolificness is an extremely rare trait in the music industry when also taking into account the quality of her content (i.e. yeah, someone like Rihanna can churn out an album a year, but it’s not necessarily listenable all the way through–like an Ultraviolence or a Honeymoon–my, how Del Rey loves one-word simplicity for titles).
With “Love,” Del Rey’s naysayers might argue that it’s merely more of the same from the “goth, self-mutilation driving chanteuse.” While, to an extent, this is true, what they don’t understand is that Del Rey is perfecting a style that no one else in the modern era can carry off with the same level of conviction or genuineness.
Highlighting a sort of contentment through inadequacy (or sadness, if you prefer to see it as a foil of inadequacy), Del Rey half laments, half espouses, “I get ready, I get all dressed up/To go nowhere in particular/It doesn’t matter if I’m not enough/For the future or the things to come/’Cause I’m young and in love.” Well, it’s hard to feel terribly lacking or insubstantial when taking stock of who has been capable of gaining positions of authority in the world as of late. Maybe if a certain orange man had the better shield of youth and l’amour on his side (as opposed to Twitter and Kellyanne Conway), he wouldn’t care so much about being generally deficient. Meanwhile, LDR sings the song of lovers who are fucking through the end of the world–which always feels somehow imminent.