Lana Del Rey wants revenge

Chemtrails Over the Country Club is done. Now, Rock Candy Sweet is coming.

by Douglas Greenwood
22 March 2021, 11:58am

Image via Instagram

It’s hard to keep track of the Lana Del Rey discourse. When she’s not releasing records considered by critics to be shining masterpieces of their era (as she did last week, with Chemtrails Over the Country Club), she’s expressing her opinions on the way said work is framed, more often than not landing herself in hot water in the process. Now, she’s got a new album in the works. Her eight record Rock Candy Sweet will arrive on 1 June, and the story behind what manifested its release is, quite frankly, wild

Lana was always the poster girl for Americana -- all Stars and Stripes and the gritty glamour of the open roads -- which was fine until what we came to define as ‘Americana’ changed, becoming glaringly synonymous with Trump’s far right politics. Lana’s ability to spin alternative pop songs out of narratives surrounding domestic abuse became galling to people, particularly when the #MeToo movement put physical and mental abuse at the hands of men at the forefront of the media in the mid 2010s. They were things she quickly sought to rectify: the American flag removed from the backdrop of her shows; the line “He hit me and it felt like a kiss” in Ultraviolence replaced when she sang it live. 

But still, controversies come with each new record. Last summer, she asked what she called a “Question for the Culture” surrounding the submissive power dynamic in music made by women, citing how many artists (the majority of those she mentioned are Black) were able to do freely what she was punished and ridiculed for. It became a conversation surrounding ignorance and white privilege. An interview on Radio 1 in the wake of the storming of the Capitol building by far right terrorists, in which she suggested "[Trump] doesn't know that he's inciting a riot”, forced many to think she was downplaying the former president’s responsibility for the events, despite her well documented hexes and spells she placed on him during his initial run for the presidency in 2015. She later clarified what she meant in a tweet.

All of this was raised in a thorough Harper’s Bazaar piece published in January, titled Lana Del Rey can’t qualify her way out of being held accountable, but that was resurfaced by Lana herself last weekend. Posting the piece by Iman Sultan on her stories, Lana said: “Just want to thank you again for the kind articles like this one and for reminding me that my career was built on cultural appropriation and glamorizing domestic abuse.”

She added: “I will continue to challenge those thoughts on my next record on June 1 titled ‘Rock Candy Sweet’,” before publishing a photo that may or may not be the cover art on her grid, complete with a Blingee-style graphic bearing the record’s name. 

In response to a passage in the Harper’s Bazaar piece that describes Lana’s need to distance herself from the Nazi-led Capitol Riots, Lana added, again to her Instagram stories: “You’re right, it would have been unnecessary if no one had significantly criticized everything about the album to begin with. But you did. And I want revenge.”

Iman then responded via Twitter.

So there you have it, just a day after Lana’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club dropped, called “strikingly assured” and “sensuous” by critics, Lana announced she has a follow-up in the pipeline, Rock Candy Sweet.

It’s fascinating, considering how pin-sharp and articulate Lana’s lyricism is, that whatever’s said outside of that context constantly needs clarification. But perhaps what this latest drama proves is that what works in her songs doesn’t translate so well when she’s speaking on a platform to the outside world. So how might this all transform into a new record for Lana Del Rey? Buckle up, we have a little over two months to figure out exactly what revenge will sound like.

lana del rey