Lana Del Rey’s ‘West Coast’ Evokes ‘Summertime Sadness’
Kevin Noonan | Monday, April 14, 2014
Sad pop-balladeer Lana Del Rey released “West Coast” yesterday, the first single from her upcoming album, “Ultraviolence.”
First listen –— meh.
There are some Scene writers, past and present, who would call for my head at that kind of blasphemy, but truth is an absolute defense.
Look, it’s not a bad song. Like most Lana Del Rey songs, I enjoyed it fine, and maybe someday when I feel like feeling some feelings, I’ll throw it on my “Turn Down” playlist, but it’s not a summer anthem, and anybody who tells you otherwise is wrong.
It’s moody, it’s slow, it’s all ironic about things that most people like — it’s a Lana Del Rey song. It’s got a little Black Keys twang to it, which is a nice twist on her normal sound, but it’s not a club banger; it’s not an instant pop smash, and it’s not the summer’s hottest track.
“West Coast” is a downer, and a good one. It’s really good at being a sad-sounding song, but the problem is that people will probably point right away to her 2012 single, “Summertime Sadness,” and say this is the second coming of that song. In some ways, they’re probably right. That is to say, “Summertime Sadness” didn’t exactly light the charts on fire and definitely wasn’t the anthem of summer 2012.
It was only after Cedric Gervais released his remix of the song in the summer of 2013 that it began to garner widespread attention outside of her devoted fan base, amazing as it is.
Which leads me to my ultimate point — this is a fine song, a very well-done Lana Del Rey song, but please, spare me blasting it on the radio and at parties all summer long, no matter who tells you it’s the definitive track of the year.
What might be, though, is the eventual remix. Lana Del Rey has reached, for me at least, the same sort of cultural status as Nicolas Cage movies, newspapers and Andy Samberg’s film career — I’ll wait until it’s on TV. For LDR, I’ll wait for the remix.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy her music in its original form, especially when I want to feel like the world doesn’t understand me and nobody’s cool except for me — I just enjoy it so much more in upbeat, electronic dance remixes.
Does that make me a dolt, a product of the machine, a musical sellout, a part of the problem, an eventual uncool dad or uncle and a terrible Scene writer? Yes. But the fact remains. I like “Summertime Sadness” a lot, but the remix is way more fun. Same goes for “Young and Beautiful” and “Once Upon a Dream” — well, no actually, that one’s perfect just the way it is.
It’s more than likely that I’m talking in circles to defend my indefensible position because even as I’m writing it I’m finding myself saying: “Yeah, but she’s so good. She makes real, original music, and it’s good. What have you done? You’d be a terrible FBI informant against the mafia because you couldn’t sing to save your life. That’s a terrible joke. You’re not funny, you’re an idiot.” And now that I’m in that sort of mood, I’m ready to go listen to some pure, original Lana Del Rey.
All I’m saying is that when I’m out at the expansive beaches of suburban Kansas this summer, I want to listen to something that doesn’t make me feel like I should be sadder than I am. And that’s why “West Coast” is not your summer anthem, unless it’s raining, and you just got fired, and your cat hates you, in which case I apologize.