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Album: UltraviolenceReleased: 2014Charted:
The title track of Lana Del Rey's third album, the term 'Ultraviolence' comes from Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange. Clare Preston-Pollitt of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation told MTV News that the word "ultraviolence" may have been inspired by a passage in Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita novel.
"It could be that Burgess had been influenced by a passage in Nabokov's Lolita where the narrator examines the word 'violence' and notes that the word exists next to the word 'violet' and 'violin' etc. in the dictionary," she said.
The song finds Del Rey exploring the close distance between love and pain. I can hear sirens, sirens
He hit me and it felt like a kiss
I can hear violins, violins
Give me all of that Ultraviolence
The lyrics references The Crystals' controversial tune "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)
." Carole King and Gerry Goffin wrote the song after their babysitter Little Eva told them about her relationship with an abusive boyfriend who beat her almost on a regular basis.
Del Rey told Grazia that the song was inspired by her time spent with an underground group that was dominated by a charismatic leader. "I used to be a member of an underground sect which was reigned by a guru," she said. "He surrounded himself with young girls and he had this insane charisma I couldn't resist as well. So I was in this, I'll call it sect, because I was longing for love and security."
"But then I found out that this guru wasn't a good but a bad person," she added. "He thought that he had to break people first before he could build them up again. At the end I left the sect."
title came before the recording process. "I think the album was called 'Ultraviolence' before I even had the songs," Del Rey told Radio.com
. "That's because I just really love words. I'm kind of inspired by just a one-word title."
Ultraviolence sold 182,000 copies in its first week in the US, giving Lana Del Rey her first #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
The song title was inspired by Del Rey's connection to the seemingly conflicting emotions of aggression and softness. She explained to Complex magazine: "I like that luxe sound of the word 'ultra' and the mean sound of the word 'violence' together. I like that two worlds can live in one."
"I like a physical love," Del Rey added. "I like a hands-on love. [Pauses.] How can I say this without getting into too much trouble? I like a tangible, passionate love. For me, if it isn't physical, I'm not interested."
The music video was directed by Del Rey's boyfriend, the Italian photographer Francesco Carrozzini (Rita Ora's "I Will Never Let You Down
," A$AP Rocky's "Phoenix
," Beyoncé's "Jealous
") and shot in the singer's signature grainy and sepia-toned style.
The clip shows Del Rey in a vintage white wedding dress singing the song's lyrics walking through the woods. As the visual proceeds, we realize that a mysterious man is filming the singer as she heads to the altar.
Lana Del Rey co-wrote this with Daniel Heath, a pal of her then-boyfriend Barrie-James O'Neill. It was one of three songs that he helped her pen for the album. She told The Los Angeles Times: "Dan was my first boyfriend's best friend. Back then he was doing cues for reality television — the shows were terrible, but his work was beautiful. I said, 'You've got to work with me on real records. The songwriting is simple: intro, verse one, a chorus, which repeats three times. The bridge is separate from everything else.'"
"That was all he needed to hear to start sending me amazing compositions. He did the title track for Ultraviolence for me. He adds a lot of cinema to my sound."
Speaking to Pitchfork
in 2017, Del Rey admitted she now omits the "He hit me and it felt like a kiss," lyric when performing the song live.
"I don't like it. I don't. I don't sing it. I sing 'Ultraviolence' but I don't sing that line anymore. Having someone be aggressive in a relationship was the only relationship I knew. I'm not going to say that that [lyric] was 100 percent true, but I do feel comfortable saying what I was used to was a difficult, tumultuous relationship, and it wasn't because of me. It didn't come from my end."