Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Soundtracks: Lana Del Ray

Happy Sunday everyone. Hope the weekend has been lovely for you and that the looming Monday will be filled with as much sunshine and happiness as Mondays can be. Personally, my Mondays are Tuesdays because of my exceptionally busy class schedule on that day, but for most people, I think Mondays hold the crowing achievement for most dreaded day of the week.

But, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or any other day of the week, we all need to write and we all need some good music to act as our soundtrack and/or muse. So what shall we look at this week?

Its always a good day for Loki gifs
Well, last time we looked at the largely instrumental music of Wolf's Rain so i think its time for lyrical music again. But instead of a band, lets look at a singer and instead of rock lets go for something a little softer. Sounds look a good day for Lana Del Ray to me!

Chances are, most of you know her name. She really spiked in popularity after one of her songs 'Young and Beautiful' was featured in The Great Gatsby last spring and she even got a lot of airplay on her song 'Summer Time Sadness' (Usually the not-as-good version with the electronic beat in the background but who's asking my opinion?) Personally I like both of those songs though, they're not my personal favorite by her. I am really glad she's gotten more popular.

I first found out about Lana Del Ray at the beginning of my Senior year at high school when my friend sent me a song that she described as 'my character's thoughts if her love interest died'. You know, the cheerful facebook messages all friends send. (Yes, this is the same friend I was writing the gigantic book series with in the 'Giving Plot to the Plotless' series). I listened to the song and I fell in love with it and Lana.

It doesn't necessarily lie in the complexity of the lyrics. She has some good ones now and again but its nothing like the stunning lyricism of Florence and the Machine (which I will talk about another time, because I love them and they are perfect). The real kicker with Lana's music is the haunting quality to her voice and the way it drifts through the song like a dream. There's a reason they got her to do the new cover for 'Once Upon a Dream' for the new Maleficent move. Her voice sounds like its right out of the realm of sleep, like she's trying to hypnotize you.
Also, my level of excitement for this movie cannot be contained.
Most of her songs deal with relationships or the pain of being young. Or both. Most of the songs she writes are pretty depressing. Nothing about true love but usually about addicted love or stupid love or love that won't last. There's a hint of suicidal tendencies and depression to a lot of her songs and the tunes don't help. There's a lot of songs in the minor key and they all have this slow tone that seems to mimic a feeling of hopelessness.

So clearly this is a GREAT person to listen to when you need to be uplifted.

In all seriousness though, she does provide some awesome word fodder with a lot of her tunes so lets talk about some of my favorites from her.

Young and Beautiful- Getting this one out of the way, I do really like it. I like how the drums emphasize the beat and it sounds like a great song for a lamenting dance. And of course it asks the question often wondered in young love: Will it last? Will it matter when I don't have my looks anymore? Not exactly a new question but its the execution that works. I'd tell you to listen to it but you probably already have.

Dark Paradise- This was the song my friend sent me and the song that made me fall in love with Lana. Its a hell of a first song to hear but I really liked it. Its one of her more depressing songs because it sounds like she's mourning someone who has died rather than someone who has left her. She's clearly trapped and grief and can't escape it. This fits more than one of my characters in the past. That being said, this kind of depression can be hard to pull off writing wise but that's a post for another time.

Born to Die- This is another song that doesn't just seem to sing about a relationship but also an addiction. An addiction to living the high life. The singer now seems to regret such decisions but is resigned to the situation she is now in. This song has similar themes as a lot of songs, talking about living on the 'wild side' but here it isn't lauded as the right life but regretted. I like the subtly of it, and Lana's voice is a big part of making the song work.

This is what makes us Girls- Another song about living wild when you're young. There's a since of nostalgia and regret in the song. Its matter of fact, not necessarily condemning the behavior but not celebrating it. I really like the tone of the song and some of the subtle throw away lines that hint at something darker. I always love finding little, dark lines in songs.

Serial Killer- This is probably the lightest song on the list. Its about a girl who 'murders love' by jumping from guy to guy for the rush, but she's pretty unashamed of it. Its a good villain song actually, and she sings it in a sweeter voice that contrasts nicely with the subject matter. This is a fun song, unlike most of her other ones, but still good for inspiration

Once Upon a Dream- All the same lyrics of the original song from Sleeping Beauty but with a tone that gives it a completely different meaning. Listen to it and watch the trailer while you're at it because its amazing. It perfectly suits Maleficent. Lana Del Ray actually has the voice I picture if Maleficent were to sing. (Which would be awesome.

Look at her. You know she has an awesome villain song bottled up inside

So those are my personal favorite songs by Lana, but there's a lot to find. If you like her voice, you'll like most of her stuff because it all has a similar tone and cadence to it. I think this kind of music is especially good for contemporary and romance pieces. It also always puts me in the mind of the 50s and 60s if you're doing a piece set in that time. But it can work for just about anything with some kind of relationship or addiction in it.

That's it for today's Sunday Soundtracks. If you have suggestions for good writing music, let me know. Otherwise have a good day. Go forth and get some writing done before Monday's hellish call finds you.

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