Lana Del Rey is a hot property right now. I’m going to explain why.
The first verse of “Video Games” presents a bunch of hyper-evocative imagery: favorite sundresses, whistled names, and obviously video games. The unpracticed listener would criticize these images as being too vague to evoke more than blurry outlines. Wrong, the scarcity of the description does a few things. It matches Del Rey’s singing like a rediscovered sock. Even if the listener doesn’t know what’s lurking in the detail of ‘your video games,’ Del Rey’s cosmic, sweeping voice gives them a presence in history; her voice lends gravity to the verses far better than more exposition could.
The flashes of image in that first verse also should be plugging into the listener’s memories. Swing sets and the old bar have a boatload of resonance for any early 20something listener longingly dreaming of Brooklyn.* Unique memories and concepts get drawn out by Del Rey’s heavy emphasis. The result is a resonant collection of images grounded in the histories of a generation.
But then what really throws the listener for a loop is when you start getting into the second verse and realize that there’s a sort of spiritual/ romantic atemporality in the nucleus of this particular ballad. She starts getting severely dramatic and now weighty in subject matter, eg “They say that the world was built for two/ only worth living if somebody was loving you.” Or, to mine another song called “Blue Jeans“, “I will love you to the end of time” is not something you say to, for example, a dress or a some swings.
The soul of this song happens when the crushing temporality of the video games collides mercilessly with the emotions in loving until the end of time. It makes the listener feel important. They are living in an important time, living memories that will survive generations. I admire the boldness of Lana Del Rey’s songs and like to listen to them when I’m feeling strongly about something.
* 20 something listeners may also dream longingly of Lana herself, as publications have pointed out. It’s too big of an issue for me to cover the concerns Carles voices in his Hipster Runoff post. I will talk about them for this website in the future.