Lana Del Rey, was born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant on June 21, 1985, in New York City. Her teenage life in the small community of Lake Placid, was dominated by her drinking habit which her parents would then send her to Kent School, a boarding school in Connecticut. By the age of 18, Del Rey was sober and would later use this experience to write her song ‘This Is What Makes Us Girls.’ When she was 18 Grant moved to New York City to study metaphysics at Fordham University and told Vogue “that was when my musical experience began. I kind of found people for myself.”
Instead of continuing her schooling and attending college, she moved in with her aunt and uncle on Long Island. Her uncle being her guitar tutor, music became her true focus even though she enrolled for philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx.
Under various names, including her birth name Lizzy Grant, and even Sparkle Rope Jump Queen and the Phenomena, Grant began to kickstart her career with open mic nights and club gigs in the underground scene. In 2006, after entering a songwriting competition a judge on the panel helped her create a demo under the label 5 Points despite her not winning the competition. With the $10,000 she earned from this record deal, Del Rey moved into a New Jersey trailer park.
Del Rey’s big break however was her June 2011 hit song ‘Video Games’ for her second studio album and major label debut, Born to Die. Directed and edited by Del Rey herself, its popularity sky rocketed after the music video was released in October with its home movie ‘Hollywood sadcore’ collage of Lolita style cartoons, the Hollywood sign and waving American Flag. Now with over 200 million views it became an underground success and developed a cult following that would later become her most defining musical piece.
In an interview at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, where “Video Games” was filmed, Del Rey explained her attraction to the notorious celebrity stamping ground. “It’s a place that has inspired so many of my videos and influenced a lot of my visuals.” Del Reys style is notably influenced by old school Hollywood, the American Dream and retro pop culture, describing herself as a “gangster Nancy Sinatra.” She told Vogue about her stage persona saying “I wanted a name I could shape the music toward. I was going to Miami quite a lot at the time, speaking a lot of Spanish with my friends from Cuba – Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue.”
On December 5th 2013, Del Rey Released a short film Tropico, featuring songs ‘Gods and monsters’, ‘Bel Air’ and ‘Body Electric’ from her Paradise EP. She recreated the Genesis story of Adam and Eve with model Shaun Ross. Written by Del Rey and directed by Anthony Mandler, the artistic film is “based on the Biblical story of sin and redemption.”
No stranger to recognition for her distinctive sound, Del Rey has received four Grammy Award nominations with both her 2014 album Ultraviolence and 2017 album Lust for Life landing at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Lust for Life was Del Rey’s first album with other artists, featuring The Weeknd, Stevie Nicks, ASAP Rocky and Sean Ono Lennon and was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album. Del Rey also collaborated with The Weeknd on the song ‘Prisoner’ for his album Beauty Behind The Madness. Her song ‘Young And Beautiful’ was used for the soundtrack for The Great Gatsby (2013) and received a nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media. She then had two songs featuring on the Tim Burton motion picture Big Eyes (2014) with her song of the same title as well as ‘I Can Fly.’ Other features Del Rey has appeared on is Maleficent (2014) with her dark and dreamy rendition of ‘Once upon a dream’, and then a cover of Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’ for Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019).
Featured image: Jaguar MENA- Lana Del Rey Releases Music Video For New Track ‘Burning Desire’