Last week Lana Del Rey released her highly anticipated album, “Norman F*****g Rockwell!” Naming the album after Norman Rockwell, an American author, painter and illustrator, Del Rey creates a new sound for this album. Much different from her last album, “Lust for Life,” which had a more positive and lovely tone throughout it, “NFR” has the tone of “F**k it.” What makes Del Ray such a great artist is that she changes her sound for every album. She is one of the few popular artists left that creates a real album, not a collection of singles thrown together.
The title track, “Norman F*****g Rockwell!,” is a beautiful song that feels like a warm hug. Del Rey sings about a man that she’s romantically involved with, but she thinks he’s too much of a “man child” and that “[He’s] just a man/ It’s just what you do.” She later sings “Why wait for the best when I could have you?” This song embodies the nature of saying “Screw it, I’ll just take this” because you’re fun and wild, even if you are no good for me.
Del Rey’s next two songs “Mariners Apartment Complex” and “Venice B***h” testify that she is still in love with whomever she is singing to. In “Mariners Apartment Complex,” she sings that, yes, she had a part in the destruction of the relationship, but she was just trying her best. Then Del Rey seems to recollect about how much she loved how well they worked together in “Venice B***h.”
Next on the album is “F**k it I love you,” a very cute love song that’s a slight continuation of the previous song. Del Ray admits her true feelings to whomever she’s singing to, but that the pain of loving this person is killing her. She tries to escape her feelings, singing “I moved to California but it’s just a state of mind / It turns out everywhere you go you take yourself, that’s not a lie.” She lets the listeners know that it doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, your feelings are valid and they are not going to change.
The next track on her album is her standout single, a cover of Sublime’s 1996 song “Doin’ Time.” Though Del Rey did not write the song, she made the track sound as if it was her own. The song is smooth and has a cool summer vibe to it. The opening lines are “Summertime, and the living’s easy,” referencing Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” The song makes the listener sit back and think about how easy-going life really can be sometimes.
Del Ray’s next two tracks on the album are “Love Song” and “Cinnamon Girl.” Up there with some of her other sad songs, these two tracks will make you want to go to your room, turn off all of the lights, hide under the covers and cry for a solid two hours about a significant other you probably never had. “Love Song” is by no means a typical love song. Del Rey wants us to understand that loving this person is something unique, raw and passionate. She sings “Be my once in a lifetime / Lying on your chest, in my body dress / I’m a f*****g mess” and “You know that I just die to make you proud/ The taste, the touch, the way we love it all comes to make the sound of our love song.”
Throughout the song her voice stays so smooth and symmetrical with the beat that it creates the feeling of being in love with someone without actually being in love with someone. Listeners are able to feel how much this person truly means to Del Ray.
After “Love Song” listeners get to indulge “Cinnamon Girl,” which is easily one of the best songs on this album. This song alone will bring you emotions that you were never capable of. Just like the spice, the song kicks you with its melodic and melodramatic tone, yet is still so soft and sweet that you want more of it. In the chorus, Del Ray sings “There’s things I wanna say to you, but I’ll just let you live / Like if you hold me without hurting me, you’ll be the first whoever did.” Once you listen to these words , you are immediately transported to a place of hurt, yet comfort. After listening to the song, you’ll be able to understand why she’s such a cinnamon girl.
The next track, “How to disappear,” is such a new sound from Del Rey that it came as a shock. The trumpet in the background adds a new element that makes it a little jazzy, which is not her element, but she still somehow skates over the beat with complete ease. She sings about the times people try to disappear from situations, whether it’s talking with someone or how guys try to avoid their real issues. The song itself is layered with deep meanings and is truly one of the better tracks in Del Rey’s entire discography.
Next is “California,” then “The Next Best American Record.” Though they both have something to do with America, the sounds and the content of the two are completely different, creating a juxtaposition. In “California,” Del Rey sings about a long lost love that she wishes would move back to the United States. She wants to throw him a party and love him again and try to make things work this time, but she knows that he will never stay. The slow ballad is a more personal song that everyone can relate to: Someone they once loved moved on in life, and they wish they could get those times going again but will never be able to recreate the memories and the love they once shared.
In “The Next Best American Record,” Del Rey sings a melody so sweet and so delicious that you feel like you need a best friend to come hang out with you and make some memories. The song is about having that one person you love with you and can make something beautiful with.
Known as a great songwriter, Del Rey chooses songwriting as the topic, hence the name of the song. Since she’s with someone that makes her better, they have the ability to write and create the greatest American record.
The next two records, “The greatest” and “Bartender,” are the weakest songs on the album. Though both of them are well produced and sound fantastic, which is never the problem for Del Rey, they just don’t seem to click. “The Greatest” reflects on her life and her music career, as well as the music industry. That’s not necessarily something anyone else could relate to.
“Bartender” sounds almost too plain to be a Lana Del Rey song. It’s as if she just wanted a filler song for the album that still correlates to the theme but isn’t as personal or raw as some of the other tracks.
“Happiness is a butterfly” is probably the second saddest song off this album. She sings about how happiness is something that can fly away, and we have to eventually catch it even if it is hard to do. Del Ray transports us into a relationship that is less than ideal, which is nothing new in her case, but she wants to still try and make it work, even if it isn’t what she deserves or needs. The lyrics “Happiness is a butterfly / Try to catch it like every night” illustrate that the relationship she is in is extremely hit or miss, but when she hits it, it’s all happiness.
Ending her incredible album is “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it.” The song is so great that words can’t even begin to describe how perfect and deep the song truly is. She sings over light piano chords throughout the entire song, which is honestly just perfect for it. Del Ray sings “They write that I’m happy, they know that I’m not / But at best, you can see I’m not sad / But hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have / Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have.” This chorus embodies what it’s like to have to live with the pressure of hoping that happiness and love will eventually come, but that it’s not something that you should be too wrapped up in it.
Del Ray explains the song in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. “Knowing that it’s okay for the culture to be in a bit of disruption, and that if we can just lean into that and try to find a uniting factor in it, that’s the big takeaway,” she said “Things have been confusing for a long time, whether it’s politically, culturally, personally.” This song truly solidified this great album.
“Norman F*****g Rockwell!” is without a doubt one of the best albums Lana Del Rey has ever put out and is easily the best album to debut in 2019.