Lana Del Rey has been a video vixen since day one. Most of us saw “Video Games” before we heard it, and that video’s DIY/found footage aesthetic didn’t take long to go viral. Since then, Lana’s video releases have been events, with “official audio” versions and promo pictures leaked days or weeks in advance. The videos have gotten longer and their characters more complex; this past summer we saw Lana as Jackie O., a suicidal lesbian, and a David Lynchian chanteuse singing “Blue Velvet” in an extended ad for H&M.
Excluding “Blue Velvet,” “Ride” is the first single off of the extended cut of her album and its video went on YouTube yesterday. LDR plays a singer/streetwalker living carefree on Kerouac’s open road. She swings like a pendulum on a tire swing in desert, as if suspended from the sky. She rides on the backs of motorcycles, shoots off fireworks while wearing a Native American headdress, and gets physical with older men on pinball machines and outside motels. Her hair is curly, but she’s still our Lana, fringed denim jacket and all. She’s in character, but a theater marquee lists her as Lana Del Rey, perpetuating and perhaps mocking criticism that she’s fake and always in character.
The “Ride” video is over ten minutes long and the actual song doesn’t start until three minutes and thirty seconds in. Lana provides voice over narration, which she wrote, at the beginning and end. “I was in the winter of my life, and the men I met along the road were my only summer,” she begins. Later: “I was born to be the other woman. Who belonged to no one. Who belonged to everyone.” The sentiment is powerful at times, trite at others. Anthony Mandler directed, as he did Lana’s “National Anthem.”
Unlike Lana’s previous songs, the Rick Rubin-produced “Ride” is less “ghetto Nancy Sinatra” (Lana’s words, not mine) and more “Sam’s Town”-era The Killers (who director Mandler has also worked with). Lana’s look is more Americana and less flash.
Lana still has tricks up her sleeve, and for now at least, we’re still along for the ride.
Watch the video below.