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Lana Del Rey (born Elizabeth Grant) is an American-born, London-based Indie-Pop singer-songwriter. Del Rey describes her sound as "gangsta Nancy Sinatra."
Moving to New York City from her hometown of Lake Placid, she recorded an album under the name Lizzy Grant that never got released. Tied to her contract, Grant was unable to sign another deal for three years. After this initial disappointment, she adopted her stage name of Lana Del Rey after management advised her that a name reminiscent of Hollywood glamour would better suit the kind of music that she was making. Though a number of sources claim name references the Hollywood actress Lana Turner and the Del Rey motor car, the singer told Q this is not the case. She said: "I don't even know what movies Lana Turner has been in. 'Lana' was just because its beautiful, 'Del Rey' the same thing."
This is Del Ray's debut single, which was released on October 10, 2011 by Interscope Records in the US, and Stranger Records in the UK. She wrote the song with songwriter Justin Parker after he played her the piano chords that would become its backbone. The song is about a relationship, in which she expresses her frustration at making all the running. She explained to Complex Magazine: "When you're an introvert like me and you've been lonely for a while, and then you find someone who understands you, you become really attached to them. It's a real release."
Del Ray's lyrics were inspired by two broken relationships in her past. "The verse was about the way things were with one person, and the chorus was the way that I wished things had really been with another person, who I thought about for a long time," she told Socialstereotype.com
, breaking into an acapella of the song. "'Swinging in the backyard, pull up in your fast car, whistling my name'. That was what happened, you know? He'd come home and I'd see him. But then the chorus, 'Heaven is a place on earth with you, tell me all the things you wanna do' wasn't like that. That was the way that I wished it was – the melody sounds so compelling and heavenly because I wanted it to be that way.
The verse is more matter-of-fact because that's how it was. It's a mix of memories and the way I wished it could have been. Just because things happened a certain way doesn't mean that that's the way that they are. It really is what you choose to think about. Bad things happen every day but you're not going to be any happier thinking about them. So I don't think about them. I don't have that luxury any more. Some people say that 'Video Games' stops them in their tracks; it's that kind of song. It's just really sad."
When asked by Q magazine why she thought people responded to this song, Del Rey replied: "I know that it's a beautiful song and I sing it really low, which might set it apart. I played it for a lot of people (in the industry) when I first wrote it and no one responded. It's like a lot of things that have happened in my life during the last seven years, another personal milestone. It's myself in song form."
Del Rey sung this song and "Blue Jeans
" on the January 14, 2012 episode of Saturday Night Live
. She performed the tune two weeks before Born To Die
was made available to buy, making Del Rey the first artist since Natalie Imbruglia in 1998 to play the show before releasing her first major-label album.
Del Rey was visibly nervous as she sung the two songs resulting in a stream of criticism on Twitter. One of the most cutting remarks was by singer and actress Juliette Lewis, who tweeted: "Wow watching this 'singer' on SNL is like watching a 12 yearold in their bedroom when theyre pretending to sing and perform #signofourtimes."
Del Rey explained the song's meaning to UK newspaper The Sun: "It's a song about letting go of my musical ambitions and settling down into a simple life with a person I loved. We had a mutual love for the community of New York, art and hard work."
Lana Del Rey and Justin Parker won the prize for best contemporary song with this cut at the 57th Ivor Novello Awards. The awards are one of the highest regarded within the UK music industry as they are voted for by songwriters and composers.
The song topped the singles chart in Germany and reached top-ten positions in many other European countries including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.