Two years after Lust for Life, Lana Del Rey releases her third single from her anticipated fifth studio album, Norman Fucking Rockwell. “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it” is the longest used title of her career and the first of all of her songs to be written in all lowercase. With the black and white portrait as its cover, the song is definitely symbolic of her own life and insights.
If you’re new to Del Rey and choose to listen to this most recently released single, it wouldn’t be the best introduction to her music. The song is barely representative of her other songs, not to mention in comparison to her hit songs “Summertime Sadness” and “Video Games”. In ways that Born to Die features a catchy song like “Summertime Sadness” and the drawn out gloomy sound in “Video Games,” “hope is a dangerous thing for women…” is anything but.
The long song title maybe could’ve been abbreviated or shortened, given that the repeated words are present in the lyrics. From claiming that she would be “less stressed” if she were “tested less like… these debutantes,” to comparing herself to the poet Sylvia Plath, Del Rey expresses her unhappiness through this five-minute ballad. Her hypnotizing yet almost heartbroken tone is layered over a simple, soft piano; a sound choice that doesn’t take away attention from her words. The song ultimately almost sounds very similar to Lust for Life’s song “Change,” in the way that it’s a simplistic and somber sound.
“Don’t ask if I’m happy, you know that I’m not… But at best I can say that I’m not sad” are just some lyrics from the chorus that speak volumes about Del Rey’s emotional conflict. There are also hints of reflection in the song, ones about “fifteen-year dances” in “church basement(s)” and that the “the only life” that she’s ever known is the stage in which she calls “home.” The mix of depressing lyrics with her high-pitched admissible vocals may be the right combination for the most transparent album that Del Rey has yet to release.
Since the releases of “Venice Bitch” and “Mariner’s Apartment Complex”, the addition of “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman…” already gives Norman Fucking Rockwell a lethargic and passive voice in comparison to Lust for Life’s mostly upbeat and pop tone. We’ll just have to find out the true disposition of the LP on the day of the album’s release date, March 29.