Lana Del Rey’s Life For Life:
The album I listened to repeat during the summer of 2017. When it released, I stayed up until 3 am in the morning, live blogging in on Tumblr. I was so obsessed with this album that I even wrote an essay on it for my first college English class. We had to analyze a photo and of course, being the Tumblrcore teen I was, I chose “Lana Del Rey’s Lust For Life.”
Throughout Lana Del Rey’s musical career, she has alluded to life and death themes with influences from the 1950s and 1960s Americana and other vintage styles. Her first major-label album, “Born to Die,” was released in 2012 as a reflection on the days of her youth, using metaphors about death to convey her life. Her next work, “Paradise,” an EP alluded to the Biblical story, Adam and Eve, took a deeper plotline. Del Rey’s second major-label album, “Ultraviolence,” took a deeper, melancholic narrative with the black and white album cover, and songs like “Cruel World,” “Pretty When You Cry,” “Sad Girl” and “Ultraviolence.”
Two years later, Del Rey takes a different look at life through dreamy, carefree beach theme glasses, with themes of failed romance, mental growth, and lust. Hinting at a more optimistic turn in her discography, Lana Del Rey’s latest album, “Lust For Life,” is the first album where she smiles genuinely.
“Lust for Life” was highly anticipated by her fan base with the release of the cover, which was taken by her sister, Chuck Grant. Fans noticed that the cover was the first where Lana smiled. The smile on the album’s cover hints that this album will be a softer, merrier album. In Del Rey’s previous albums, she never smiled. Instead, she stared directly at the camera with either a stern expression, like the simplistic cover of her album, “Born To Die,” and its follow-up EP, “Paradise,” a doleful look in “Ultraviolence,” or an ambivalent stare with her head tilting to another direction, in her 2016 album Honeymoon.
She even goes as far as to smile showing her teeth. Assuming from the photo, this album will be a cheerful album compared to her others by just the smile. Lana Del Rey has a reputation for writing melancholic, emotional, and heart-wrenching songs compared to most popular artists. Released in 2012 “Born Die” went viral and was about a relationship that was meant to end tragically. The change in her facial expression is a major display of the beginning of a new era.
Furthermore, Lana Del Rey’s classic and vintage resembles the style of the mid-twentieth century Americana with the visual of a white outfit and simplistic makeup. Her makeup is natural and light, a contrast from today’s heavy contouring trend. Her eyeshadow is a light peach color, paired with thin winged eyeliner that stops a little past her pupils. Del Rey’s lips are painted in a natural pink. Her eyebrows are filled in naturally. Del Rey’s hair has soft waves, a darker hue, and white daisies in her hair. She had a similar look with daisies in her hair in, the album’s first single, “Love’s” music video.
The daisies, in particular, in general, represent innocence and a new start, adding in the color white as well, it enhances the symbolism of purity. Wearing flowers in her hair, Del Rey alludes to the popular Flower Power movement back in the 1960s, where citizens were protesting for changes and to end the war in Vietnam. The white lace that she is wearing is also white. Right behind Lana Del Rey’s back is a teal green truck, the same one from her album, “Born To Die,” where she stood with a stern glower, a contrast to this album, and the logo placed between the photo and the cream-colored border. This image represents a connection between the albums.
Also, her logo was one of her originals when she was signed with an indie record label under the stage name, Lana Del Ray, back in 2010. It shows that she is referencing to her old style and matches it to her current era. The cursive display of her name yet the title of the album has only the cursive L in “Lust,” but the remainder of the word, and the title is a capitalized Sans Serif font. The differences in fonts are also different from her previous album covers’ fonts. Her previous signature font style was bold and was art deco inspired. Del Rey’s new font design hints that she is changing her style and album. The font is also in red, which represents love–the first single the album was titled “Love,” a song all about the youth being in love.
However, in Lana Del Rey’s previous major label albums, the font color had influences from the photo. On the cover of “Honeymoon,” Del Rey used the color red for her logo and the color blue for the album title. “Ultraviolence” was in black and white, therefore the font color was white. Born to Die used the colors of Del Rey’s peach colored pink lipstick and white button-down shirt for the typography’s color scheme.
In addition, in a recent interview with the BBC, Lana Del Rey admitted that she revealed that this album was for her fans. She adds in an optimistic outlook, which some fans wanted, and a new look. “Lust for Life” is her first album with any collaboration with other artists, like The Weeknd, Steve Nicks, Sean Ono Lennon, and A$AP Rocky. Compared to her other albums, Del Rey never had guest appearances. She took risks for her fans. Since her loyal fan case wanted a throwback from her earlier work, she incorporated suggestions from them. She utilizes her new album cover to allude to her music and embraces the dreamy style that she started back in 2012.
Giving a new positive outlook on life, Lana Del Rey uses her album cover to reflect her new outlook on how she can chose to be happy and find it by herself independently. Her album features the vintage, cinematic style that she is known for, but with a twist. A simple smile is a rare gesture in Lana’s music work and starts a brand-new stance for her album. Lana Del Rey’s fifth album cover gives an insight of her growth as an individual and as an artist.