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yMusic: National Anthem by Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey's "National Anthem"


I expected Lana Del Rey's people to release "Out to the Races" as her fourth and last single. In my opinion, that's the best song on her album "Born to Die", but "National Anthem is a good choice also. Hopefully, a sixth single will be coming in a few months.

Some minor controversy (and typical YouTube flaming) sparked over this. Lana Del Rey plays the roles of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy.

Guess who plays John F. Kennedy? A$AP Rocky. Like most rappers, he's black. And this artistic liberty--along with the Instagram-esque frame containing the seven-minute mini-film, is the cause of some discussion.

For the video itself, I say it's better than the videos for "Blue Jeans" and "Video Games", and engages in a heated race against "Born to Die".

Too Close to Home

First of all, I think it's a wise choice to not use the same guy in the "Born to Die" and "Blue Jeans" video. "National Anthem" is still far from erotic territory (something I don't expect from music videos like this), but having A$AP Rocky as a black John F. Kennedy provides a great overtone for the entire video. 

Civil rights was a major issue in the '60's. And having a black Kennedy being the one shot at the end of the video adds an underlying message to it all.

And plus, I think it shows Lana at her most emotional peek, framing the expression that Jackie Kennedy has as her husband dies next to her.

Which I would say is the primary intention of this music video. Not that Kennedy is black, but Jackie's relationship with him until it is severed. As director Anthony Mandler said:

"It was always about seeing it through her eyes, seeing this kind of castle crumble in the moment, and that shot where she's coming up out of the car, and the pain in her eyes, that destruction, it's like the whole castle is crumbling around her. That's what we were going for."

"The whole castle is crumbling around her". Such an monumental feeling.

Now, I wonder what it would be like showing someone's empire crumbling around her...?

A Quick Note about Her Emotions

While Lana Del Rey has a great smile between songs (and you can see this during the middle of the video), the chanteuse persona she assumes while singing in music videos has more subtle, and sometimes diluted, emotions.

At some points of the music video, this works for her. When she lip-syncs the lyrics:

Money is the reasons
we exists.
Everyone knows that's a fact
kiss, kiss.

That blink-or-you-miss it shrug and sharpness is one of those moments where I move the playhead back to see it repeatly. It's hard to pin down, yet it exists. She's saying it knowing that it's a fact.

On the other hand, she looks washed out in "Video Games", and at certain parts of "National Anthem".

But nothing can beat that look she has near the end.

YOUR TURN: What's your thoughts on Lana Del Rey's "National Anthem?