What if you took a perfectly ordinary life and happy romance and transformed it into something fatalistic? You get Lana Del Ray and her first single, “Video Games.”
I remember hearing this song for the first time and not getting whether it was a joke or a true artistic statement of purpose. Time has proved it to be the latter: You see not only Del Ray’s successful career, but her influence on icons like Adele, Lorde, and Taylor Swift.
“Video Games” is spare and haunting, and Del Ray exudes old school, femme fatale charm. The song also works on a second level that you might call irony, although I suggest it’s something deeper than that: The contrast of the unremarkable and happy lyrics with a dramatic, Gothic presentation provides a creative tension. It speaks to me as a clever, even poignant, commentary on modernity, and its many paradoxes and dualities.
Edit: Having listened to this song about a dozen times since I wrote this, I think I undersold the strangeness of the lyrics: There’s a dark undercurrent here, with some allusions that the narrator might be much younger than her lover, and with a vaguely abusive nature to the description of their relationship. My overall thoughts on Del Ray’s style and influence still stand, though.