Head to Head: Lana Del Rey's Honeymoon is universally underwhelming
Arts reporters Justice Amarillas and Thea Van Gorp give their blunt opinion on Lana's latest LP.
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Daily Wildcat arts reporter Justice Amarillas challenged fellow arts reporter Thea Van Gorp to voice her opinions regarding a few songs off Lana Del Rey's new album, Honeymoon. Here’s their head to head.
TVG: The introduction of this song definitely creeped me out in a good, musical way. The high strings and low bass notes make an uneasy beginning to this “Honeymoon.” The song flip-flops between major and minor, happy and sad chords, similar to a relationship. Maybe she did that on purpose? “Honeymoon” reminds me of the songs played at the beginning of James Bond movies in that it incorporates pulsing piano chords, string highlights and light percussion at the beginning of each phrase combined with Del Rey’s signature blended vocals. The song builds and even ends in an easily discernible “super-hero” chord. Although it is easy to recognize that this is a Lana Del Rey song, it is a bit different and got my attention.
JA: Her vocals on this track kick off the album beautifully. Del Rey’s subject matter is still depressing and dark as ever, but that’s why this song is so successful in opening the album. Definitely one to remember, beautifully haunting.
“High by the Beach”
TVG: I really like the organ she uses to begin the song. It has just enough reverb that it begs for something big to happen. That something never does. The song morphs into an easy, truly high-by-the-beach kind of feeling. Give Del Rey credit, she does formulate perfect song titles. This song has its merits, but it doesn’t turn into anything. It leaves the listener expecting some change to occur, but it stays incredibly consistent all the way through. “High by the Beach” is good for background music, but I wouldn’t recommend listening to it on a road trip … The driver might fall asleep at the wheel waiting for something new to happen.
JA: “High By The Beach” seems appropriate as the first single. It sounds like one of those songs that would play on the radio and successfully attract Del Rey a new audience. The song has a great message of her defeating the media and becoming her own woman, but I don’t think I care for it much. The lyrics, “The truth is, I never bought into your bull****, when you would pay tribute to me cause I know that,” are the song’s pinnacle.
TVG: I am sensing a real “Summertime Sadness” vibe here. Actually, I think I might be listening to it … Nope, this is definitely “Art Deco,” with the same “Summertime Sadness” beats, melodies in the vocals and background noise. The song is a little slower and quiet, but the two Del Rey works are painfully similar. Don’t get me wrong, I had “Summertime Sadness” on repeat for two weeks when it came out, but one is enough, Lana. Thank you. The only resounding difference is that she utilized technology just a little bit more.
JA: The seventh track on the album flops. It’s speculated that this track is about Del Rey’s close friend, Azealia Banks. This song gets swept under the rug because there’s nothing memorable about it. I frankly don’t care about the song serving as advice to her friend. That doesn’t belong on an album. The only nice thing about it is the slight hint of jazz instrumentals in the backing towards the middle of the song.
TVG: Del Rey took the Western-guitar approach for the introduction of “Religion.” Different for her, but it still melded into her typical song. The guitar had potential to break Del Rey’s typical hypnotic nonsense, but it failed. So close guitar, so close. I do have to say that her vocal range has definitely grown. As a vocalist, I have to applaud this. Now Del Rey’s songs can sound the same, just higher-pitched.
JA: “Religion” is the ninth track, following an interlude. This song is very traditional Del Rey subject matter. I’m not in love with it, but I do like it. The chorus is strong and it makes me feel very devotional.
“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
TVG: The instrumentation in “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” has developed a bit with more classic Rhodes, more organ, strings and a strange synth I can’t quite place. This song somewhat resembles a black-and-white musical, old and classic, with a couple CocoRosie-esque moments when she isn’t really singing, but rather talking to the audience. It begins to sound different from her redundant style only in that it reminds me of aspects other than her previous work. I guess that can be considered a step in the right direction.
JA: The finishing track of the album isn’t even an original Del Rey song. It’s a cover of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by Nina Simone. It confuses me as to why someone would end their own album in a cover song. Del Rey said in an interview with Billboard that “[she likes] summarizing the record with a jazz song [and] having fun with [her] interpretation.” It’s unoriginal, but what I do know is that it is tailored to her unique sound. It definitely leaves an impression, but I don’t know if it was a good one.
Overall, I was left disappointed with this highly anticipated album. Honeymoon is one of those albums where the big fans of Lana Del Rey would love just because they’re too far gone in the fandom to change their opinion of her. If you’re looking for a safe album to listen to while you’re studying, this is it.