By Alexis Eastman
Soaring low over ocean and the California coastline Lana enters the frame, blending in amongst the curtains billowing in the wind on the top floor of an empty beach house. Organs pulse beneath Del Rey’s signature frying vocals as the camera draws closer to her. Squinting out over the vista, she croons that "she knows you understand" and in that moment you're both looking out over blue, lulled by waves. But she, nor you, feels the safe sunny glow of the coast. And then all of a sudden we’re making eye contact with a helicopter. Nose to nose as it hovers in front of the blue cloudless sky.
She’s got the same response to the helicopter as most - drop onto the bed and think about getting high, then head to the kitchen. The bedroom is spartan, a mattress, lamp and bedside table. The kitchen is empty, save for a tabloid with our girl on the cover (someone’s seen Britney’s Lucky video one too many times). Except Lucky wasn’t ever allowed to say high or do drugs or admit that she had her own feelings. When she was first caught with a cigarette on a balcony in April 2002 she was in a whirlwind of shit with news media and fans alike.
Her Lucky video (2000) crystallizes that mythos of Britney’s early career, which started at the tail end of a very different era of fame. Never mind the fact that the early aughts saw the days before blogs, twitter, Perez Hilton, camera phones, file hacks and celebrity nude photo swap circles on the deep web, Britney was honed from inception into a chart topping missile. Britney the persona was born and Britney the person became irrelevant.
Which makes it all the more poignant to watch Britney sing her pain in earnest to the back of imaginary Lucky's head ‘cause god forbid Britney mourn her innocence and childhood for herself. So here’s Del Rey making this in 2015, explicitly conscious of the hollowness of her boozy Nancy Sinatra/Lisa Marie persona, telling the world that everyone just like, stresses her out too much so she’s gotta get high. Lana's on that balcony staring into the ocean, half stoned, seeing past herself, past Britney in 2007 all the way back to young Judy Garland force fed uppers and starved on MGM sets.
The camera spins around Lana’s polyester dressing gown a couple more times and now the helicopter's back, but it’s clear the passenger is not a jealous Daddy, but the paparazzi holding a telephoto lens as automatic weapon. The lyrics “I never bought into your bullshit when you pay tribute to me” are swirling into sense. We’re the helicopter! Her fans, her fame. the media, fucking instagram is the helicopter and now she’s running from us singing “I don’t need your money to get me what I want.” Literally running.
She runs straight into the arms of her guitar, casually buried amongst the sea splashed rocks. Grabbing her guitar case she struggles to run back to the house, getting her gauzy drapery caught on nothing except everything, she finally peels around the corner to open the guitar case on the balcony right in front of the helicopter. In one fluid motion Lana pulls out what I'm assuming is a rocket launcher, throws it over her shoulder and pulls the trigger. She just Britney in 2007’s it into big, fiery and kind of cheap looking explosions. Panning down from the blast, we watch the waves splash up against the rocks and wash it all away and Lana’s final lullaby ahhhs are making you feel safe - but once again- not totally comfortable. Because if the helicopter was the media, that includes Instagram and that includes you and that means you're toast.
It's a bold move to blow up your fans, but Lana committed to honesty, and that thematic transparency carries through the track and the video so far you can practically see her have the idea for the thing. Like, Lana's slouched in a booth still wearing sunglasses, across the table from mustachioed Jake Nava whose passing her the vape. “With B, yeah I call her that, it was like just so easy to gel. We came up with the car in the pool for My Perogative just like this, sitting and just shooting the shit brainstorming." (What I'm sure he failed to mention was that in 2004, instead of a vape and a dirty Shirley Temple it was pop tarts and spiked Diet Cokes.) Lana inhales, appreciating the comparison to Godney and thinks as she holds the hit, exhaling finally “Yes, like, I just want to like hold a huge gun and just like shoot down a helicopter. Like boom. The media, ya know?” Nava grabs the vape from her hand and pulls the last bit while nodding, ‘Yes baby, yes."