Video Games

Album: Born To Die (2011)
Charted: 9 91
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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."
  • "Video Games" is Del Rey'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 Rey'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, 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 sang 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 sang 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-year-old in their bedroom when theyre pretending to sing and perform #signofourtimes."

    Kristen Wiig even dressed up like Lana and parodied the performance on a later episode. It became a defining moment for the singer, who faced a critical backlash but emerged stronger, becoming a star with the release of her next album, Born to Die. She got some help from label boss Jimmy Iovine, who worked with her to improve her live performances. Del Rey defended her SNL singing, saying it wasn't dynamic but was true to form. "There was a more eccentric performance approach to it," she told Rolling Stone in 2019. "I was thinking about Maria Callas, or someone darker coming through."
  • 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."
  • This was produced by the Robopop team of Dano Omelio and Brandon Lowry. They were new to the game, but had co-written the Gym Class Heroes hit "Stereo Hearts." Lowry later recorded as Baby Fuzz.
  • 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.
  • The actual video game Del Rey is singing about is World of Warcraft, inspired by a boyfriend who used to play it a lot. By keeping the title generic, Del Rey kept the song open for interpretation.
  • According to Del Rey, she made the video herself using iMovie. For footage, she used video she shot of herself with a webcam, and various clips she found on YouTube. The video quickly got millions of hits on YouTube and helped launch her career.
  • "Video Games" was named Song of the Decade at the 2019 Q Awards in London. "I just can't tell you how much this means," Del Ray said while accepting the prize via video link. "I got my start in London so I wish I could be there, but I'm there in spirit."
  • An instrumental cover version of "Video Games" plays at the end of Westworld season 4 episode 1, The Auguries. Composed by Ramin Djawadi, the gentle, haunting orchestral rendition features strings and a piano.

Comments: 2

  • Gabor from Szekesfehervar, HungaryLeigh: It is true, I like it very much, especially its tune and mood
  • Leigh from Cape Town, South AfricaHow does this song not have any comments?! One of the best songs of the past few years.
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