The Meanings Behind Lana Del Rey’s Music


Megan Hogan, Staff Writer

We already know that Lana Del Rey is an icon, and she has always played that role since her beginnings in the music industry. Lana is an artist that communicates her autobiography through songs. She creates tone, structure, and rhythm without approval from the audience. Unlike other musicians who base their music on their fans, Lana expresses her life history and burning passion through her music. In this article, I am going to list a few of her songs (including a few unreleased) and the meanings behind them. Disclaimer: Her music can be interpreted differently from other perspectives.

1: Born to Die

Based on her interviews, Lana Del Rey states that her song Born to Die revolves around the time in her life when she was in an abusive relationship at a young age. She feels unable to leave him, shown by the consistent repetition of “Don’t make me sad, don’t make me cry” throughout the song. She wants to have fun while it lasts because she knows nothing is forever- hence the title of the song “Born to Die”. My personal favorite line in this song is the lyric “Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough, I don’t know why.”

2: Cinnamon Girl

Cinnamon Girl is not one of Lana’s most popular songs, but it definitely should be in the top 10. This song is similar to the previous track, Born to Die. It is about feeling conflicted and confused about an intense and toxic relationship. Lana is yearning for an emotional connection with her significant other, who is incapable due to substance abuse. She references the drugs in question, singing “All the pills that you take-violet, blue, green, red, to keep me at arm’s length.” In the first line, she includes the lyrics “Cinnamon in my teeth from your kiss, you’re touching me”. This could be a metaphor for the sweet taste of cinnamon, and then dissolves into bitterness from the drugs on his tongue. One of my favorite lines from the song is “There’s things I wanna say to you, but I’ll just let you live.” In this lyric, she is referencing his incapability to comfort her in the way she desires. She is accepting that he will never change.

3: Put Me in a Movie

This is one of Lana Del Rey’s several unreleased songs. Put Me in a Movie has several different interpretations, all with conflicting ideas about what Lana is referring to. Some say she is speaking about the predatory nature of Hollywood (the rich and powerful), but it could also be interpreted as a reflection on the way society views youth and innocence. “Lights, camera, action” is repeated in the song, intending to express how others view idols, all of the glamor and excitement of being a star- not the shunned side effects of becoming famous. This is when the other side comes into play- the lyrics “If he likes me, take me home” and “You can be my daddy” over and over throughout the 3-minute song. This song can be associated with grooming and sexual abuse. The choice to include the lines “You know I can’t make it on my own, c’mon, you know you like little girls,” is a definite connection to the real lolita. It’s not definite as to what Lana wrote the song about, but we know that it’s unreleased for a reason.

4: Art Deco

Art Deco is included in Lana’s “Honeymoon” album from 2015. This song has a dream-like track, complete with echoed beats and a soft rhythm. From the very beginning of this song, you feel sucked into the tone. It almost feels like heaven (not exaggerating). This piece is about being a “party girl”, wanting to have all eyes on you. Lana sings “A little party never hurt no one, that’s why it’s alright”. Lana is trying to convince herself that it’s alright to want to escape and be the main character for once in a while. “You’re so Art Deco, out on the floor shining like gunmetal, cold and unsure.” She knows she looks beautiful, but still feels like she can’t let herself go without backlash. This song repeats itself with the ending note of “A little party never hurt no one”.

5: Yes to Heaven

Yes to Heaven is another one of Lana’s songs that was intended to remain unreleased. This song explores internal connection, love, and expectations. Lana reveals her weaknesses, ultimately admitting she’s in love and willing to wait for him to take initiative. She conveys her obsession through the lyrics “I’ve got my eye on you, say yes to heaven, say yes to me”. An opposite interpretation of this song is that it is about grooming, similar to the song Put Me in a Movie. Noting that the process of grooming makes youth vulnerable, this song may take on a manipulative tone- indicating that what they (the groomer) is doing is okay, and that things can be amazing if their advances are accepted by the victim.

So the question remains: Is Lana Del Rey a lyrical genius? What is so addicting about her music? It is poetry, trauma, danger, love, darkness, and everything a human experiences in one’s lifetime. What’s not to love? Her music symbolizes our problems and explores how we cope, or our choice to never move on. Lana’s lyrics demonstrate that it’s okay to not be okay, and that you are not alone in whatever you have gone through- Lana Del Rey has been there. So be proud of your overwhelming passion, and move through the world like an icon.