Lana Del Rey has been scorned by the critics over the years as controversial. She has been accused of glamorizing pain and romanticizing abuse. They say she feminizes herself too much, while applauding the strong male archetype that our society has now labeled as “toxic masculinity.” Critics claim she is not progressive enough, steering away from the feminist movement by competing with other women and taking on a submissive role through her lyrics.
On May 21 of 2020, Lana Del Rey went on a rant regarding the hypocritical criticism she faces. “Now that Doja Cat, Ariana, Camila (Cabello), Cardi B, Kehlani, Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, f—ing, cheating etc., can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect without being crucified, or saying that I’m glamourizing abuse?”
She continues, “with all the topics women are finally allowed to explore I just want to say over the last ten years I think it’s pathetic that my minor lyrical exploration detailing my sometimes submissive or passive roles in my relationships has often made people say I’ve set back women a hundred years. Let this be clear, I’m not a feminist – but there has to be a place of feminism for women who look and act like me – the kind of women who says no but men hear yes – the kind of women who are slated mercilessly for being their authentic, delicate selves, The kind of women who get their own stories and voices taken away from them by stronger women or men who hate women.”
And finally, “I also feel I really paved the way for other women to stop ‘putting on a happy face’ and to just be able to say whatever the hell they wanted to in their music – unlike my experience where if I even expressed a note of sadness in my first two records I was deemed literally hysterical as though it was literally the 1920s.”
I would argue that Lana Del Rey is extremely progressive in her own way. Such backlash from the critics is proof enough that her music is something that most of the public is not yet ready for. Plenty of artists put out music and performances that are blatantly sexist and degrading, and they are rewarded for it. LDR’s resistance from the critics shows that even though she embraces her submission, she is very much indeed a powerful and confident woman who is brave enough to continue releasing music without any filter.
Let’s take a look at her “most controversial” songs and lyrics!
10. High By The Beach (Honeymoon)
“Loving you is hard, being here is harder. You take the wheel.”
This one barely makes the list. Like many of her songs, this is about being stuck in a negative relationship, feeling powerless and giving up. While it’s unclear if she actually leaves or not, it’s clear that she wants to.
9. Brooklyn Baby (Ultraviolence)
“My boyfriend’s pretty cool, but he’s not as cool as me.”
This song is cute and funny, although could be offensive towards those who love Brooklyn, as the entire song picks apart and makes fun of people who live in Brooklyn.
8. Off To The Races (Born to Die)
“I’m not afraid to say that I’d die without him.”
The lyrics describe an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship where both of them party too much, and also hints that the only reason she stayed with him is because of the money.
7. Groupie Love ft. A$AP Rocky (Lust for Life)
“And every time you look up, I know what you’re thinking of.”
Lana Del Rey was highly criticized for, not so much the song itself, but for choosing to collaborate with A$AP Rocky. The rapper has been accused of being abusive towards women, along with that he has made extremely offensive public remarks about the #MeToo and BLM movements.
6. The Other Woman (Ultraviolence)
“The other woman must spend her life alone.”
The song tells the story of a love triangle, examining the perspectives of both women. At first it may seem that “the other woman” is more glamorous, but as the song goes on it is clear that she is the one who is most pathetic.
5. hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but I have it (Norman F Rockwell!)
“There’s a new revolution, a loud evolution that I saw.“
This is a brave and beautiful song where Lana Del Rey declares that she has hope. You would think that “having hope” wouldn’t be such a controversial statement, but in such a hostile climate we live in, it truly is.
4. ****ed My Way Up to the Top (Ultraviolence)
“You got nothing, I got tested, and I passed.”
Taring down other women, especially one woman in particular, Lana Del Rey is very blunt about her hard-earned fame.
3. Cola (Paradise)
“We can escape to the great sunshine. I know your wife and she wouldn’t mind.”
This is possibly the most hated Lana Del Rey song, even most of her fans are disgusted by it! Explicit, vulgar, and offensive lyrics! But this is simply about a woman having a fun and sensual relationship with a man. And his wife said it’s okay — maybe it’s an open marriage? Maybe they’re separated but still legally together? Who knows, but all that matters is that it’s consensual!
2. Ultraviolence (Ultraviolence)
“He hit me and it felt like a kiss.”
Lana Del Rey’s most criticized song is about the addiction of a physically abusive relationship. The reason the song has a depressing undertone is not due to the abuse she experienced, but missing it.
1. Lolita (Unreleased)
“No more skipping rope, skipping heartbeats with the boys downtown. Just you and me feeling the heat even when the sun goes down.”
This song is too controversial to be officially released on any of her albums. As you can tell by the name, this is about a young girl falling in love with an older man. Many fans will try to twist it around, claiming the song to be dark and disturbing. But in truth, it is what it is, it’s a happy song and there’s really nothing abusive about it.