I feel like my personal relationship with Lana Del Rey‘s music is “oh my god, Born To Die”, then “who?”, then “oh my god, Norman F***ing Rockwell”.
I know there are die-hard fans who are roasting me for this, but I have to live my truth. For a while there, I forgot entirely about Lana Del Rey. But my god, Born To Die dominated the entirety of 2012 for me.
There are so many amazing tracks on that album, and they all have phenomenal music videos that play into Lana’s love of nostalgia and Americana. But when I was thinking about writing something to do with Lana Del Rey, I couldn’t get past the one music video I seem to google way more than is normal. National Anthem.
To give you a bit of background, the music video was directed by Anthony Mandler, who is a long-time collaborator with Rihanna, having done her Unfaithful and Diamonds music videos, among others.
Anthony told MTV back in 2012 that the over-arching concept of the music video was all Lana, saying she was “really interested in exploring this loss of innocence, this idea that what you think you’re experiencing is maybe not what it’s always going to be. Because when you say ‘Kennedy,’ that immediately evokes something, just like when I say ‘It’s a Romeo and Juliet story.’ So I think using that power, that pedigree of the story is a really fascinating place to show the loss of something, the breakdown of something.”
Using the tragic Kennedy family as the romantic centre of the video was inspired – probably because J.F.K was assassinated in 1963, their relationship has in a way been immortalised as one of the greats, even though there have long been rumours of infidelity from J.F.K, namely with Marilyn Monroe – who Lana also references in the music video.
Lana wrote the music video treatment herself, and personally chose ASAP Rocky as her co-star. They have insane chemistry together and it’s really that electric vibe between them that makes the video so re-watchable.
It’s not just be who rates the music video, Billboard also named it one of the 20 best music videos of the 2010s (so far) in 2015.
The music video ends with Kennedy’s assassination, with Lana Del Rey reading a speech as a re-enactment of the famous footage is shown. It’s a perfect example of how music videos, when done well, can be as engaging as a feature film.
Controversially, I’m not even that much of a National Anthem fan, as far as the actual song goes. I think there are far better Lana Dey Rey songs out there. But this music video has to be my hard favourite from her. What a talent.