MUSIC

A Brand-New Song, and All the Snippets Lana Del Rey Has Released from "Norman F**king Rockwell"

Fans are calling this the "messiest" Lana era ever. But it also could be the best, judging by the quality of the music. Here's everything we know.

In January 2019, Lana Del Rey told the world that her sixth album, Norman F**king Rockwell, was complete.

Since then, she's teased dozens of songs and visual clips—but the album's release date remains elusive, infuriating legions of devoted fans.

It's unclear whether the album is still undergoing a prolonged period of revision, if she's decided to scrap the whole thing, or if it's all beyond her control, though it's always hard to know with Del Rey, who has never been one to follow rules. Still, she's certainly given fans a fair amount of teasers to hold them over in the interim. Here's a timeline of every quote, whispered clip, and blurry visual we have so far.

In January 2018, in an interview with Pitchfork, Lana mentioned that one of her newest songs was called "Bartender," and described it as "super weird."

Then on February 25, Del Rey uploaded a video that featured her hanging out with Jack Antonoff, prompting later-confirmed suspicion that they were working together on a new project.

Lana Del Rey hanging out in the studio with Jack Antonoff www.youtube.com

On February 28, Del Rey visited the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, where she began writing a song called "Starry Eyed" on ukulele, which she promised to finish and dedicate to the foundation; it's also unclear whether this song will be on the album.

Live in Seacrest Studios with Lana Del Rey www.youtube.com

On March 5, 2018, Del Rey first teased the lyrics of a song called "Happiness is a Butterfly," a lullaby-like sigh of a track that has continued to reappear throughout Norman Fucking Rockwell's forked pathway to release. On March 30, she released a snippet of the song on Instagram, which she later removed and then un-archived.

On June 12, MTV released a list of upcoming albums, which featured an obviously false March 29 release date for Norman Fucking Rockwell.

A few months later, Del Rey teased and then premiered the psychedelic, Leonard-Cohen-quoting "Mariner's Apartment Complex," which was released on September 12.

Lana Del Rey singing Mariners Apartment Complex acapella www.youtube.com


Lana Del Rey - Mariners Apartment Complex www.youtube.com

Then on September 18, she released the equally trippy, luxurious "Venice Bitch" on an interview with Zane Lowe for Beats 1. [links] Regarding the song's length, Del Rey said, "I played it for my managers and I was like, 'Yeah, I think this is the single I want to put out.' And they were like, 'It's 10 minutes long. Are you kidding me? It's called 'Venice Bitch.' Like, Why do you do this to us? Can you make a three-minute normal pop song?' I was like, 'Well, end of summer, some people just wanna drive around for 10 minutes [and] get lost in some electric guitar.'"

Lana Del Rey - Venice Bitch www.youtube.com

In the same Zane Lowe interview, Del Rey also said, "Working with Jack [Antonoff], I was in a little bit of a lighter mood because he was so funny. So the title track is called 'Norman Fucking Rockwell' and it's kind of about this guy who is such a genius artist but he thinks he's the shit and he knows it and he, like, won't shut up talking about it… I just like the title track so much that I was like, 'OK, I definitely want the record to also be called that."

Several music sites later reported that these singles were "fan singles" and would not be on the actual album, though Del Rey has not confirmed this speculation.

Then on October 4, Del Rey posted an extended video of "How to Disappear," which she later deleted and subsequently unarchived.

Lana Del Rey - How to Disappear (Snippet) (Instagram Video) www.youtube.com

On October 12, Del Rey posted a clip of her singing a song called "Cinnamon" on Instagram, which she later deleted and then reposted as well.

In response, a fan Instagram account posted a 2017 quote from an interview with Pitchfork where Lana stated, "I had some people in my life that made me a worse person. I was not sure if I could step out of that box of familiarity, which was having a lot of people around me who had a lot of problems and feeling like that was home base. Because it's all I know. I spent my whole life reasoning with crazy people. I felt like everyone deserved a chance, but they don't. Sometimes you just have to step away without saying anything."

Del Rey commented on the post, "the quote [from Pitchfork] is a perfect quote to go along with cinnamon [sic]. Some people don't deserve a chance."

On October 30, Del Rey performed "How to Disappear" and "Venice Bitch" at an Apple special event in Brooklyn, a show that was widely praised by fans including CEO Tim Cook.

Lana Del Rey - How to Disappear and Venice Bitch Live at Apple Event 2018 www.youtube.com

She also released the full audio for "How to Disappear."

Lana Del Rey - How To Disappear (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

On December 5, she officially announced the album's title at Jack Antonoff's concert for the Ally Foundation and performed two country songs which she announced would not be on the new album.

Lana Del Rey - Hey Blue Baby [Live at Ally Coalition Talent Show] www.youtube.com


Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff - Ally Coalition Talent Show “I Must Be Stupid For Feeling So Happy" www.youtube.com

On January 1, 2019, Del Rey posted a video of her singing along to a song called "In Your Car," featuring the lyrics "In your car / I'm a star / and I'm burning through you."

Lana Del Rey teases new song "In Your Car" on her Instagram (Snippet) www.youtube.com

The next day, she posted the audio for her song "Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have — but I have it."

Lana Del Rey - hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but i have it www.youtube.com

Producer Jack Antonoff tweeted his support, advising fans to "listen at night alone."

Then on January 11, 2019, she released an extended clip of a video for "Happiness is a Butterfly," which used the same visuals she had previously released alongside teasers for "Mariner's Apartment Complex" and "Venice Bitch." The video, relatively dreary and mellow compared to Del Rey's earlier work, featured Ashley Rodriguez and Alexandria Kaye and was directed by Lana Del Rey's sister Chuck Grant.

On March 23, 2019, Del Rey performed "Mariner's Apartment Complex" live for the first time in New Orleans, taking to an onstage swing and thanking the audience for "indulging [her] little folk sensibility" in the process.

Lana Del Rey @ Buku 2019 (Mariners Apartment Complex, Video Games, High by the Beach) www.youtube.com

Most recently, on April 3, 2019, Del Rey posted a snippet of a song that fans have named "You Don't Ever Have To." Some fans speculated that it's a part of "In Your Car," but this remains unknown.

In the midst of it all, she also released a Gucci ad with Jared Leto and has been teasing a book of her poetry, periodically releasing haikus and typewritten pages and even putting out a call for indie bookstores who might want to sell it. When asked about the price, Del Rey said that the book will cost $1, because "my words are priceless."

It's anyone's guess as to when Norman F**king Rockwell will drop, but Del Rey has always been adept at draping all of her work in auras of mystery. She's a master of contrasts, always throwing critics for a loop by combining kitsch and rawness, strength and vulnerability, apathy and passion. She's also always been great at making us wonder about the extent to which her appearance and art have been meticulously manufactured.

Maybe she's leaving a paper trail of sorts that resembles her own fractured consciousness. Maybe she's painting our schizophrenic reality, one defined by upheaval and exponential technological innovation. Or maybe she's just a free spirit whose artistic vision "gets messy" when it comes in contact with reality, as a friend once said.

Regardless, judging by the quality of the fragments that we do have, when the album finally does appear, it'll have been worth the wait.


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Find her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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Billie Eilish's sophomore LP, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is significantly darker than anything she's released before. Even "idontwannabeyouanymore," the most serious track on her debut "dont smile at me," was an indictment of damaging beauty standards.

Her music has always been melancholy, pulled from whatever spring of velvety, neon-saturated darkness that Lana Del Rey and Lorde first drew from. But When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? dives deeper. It stares into the far reaches of the subconscious, and somewhere along the way, it moves into the realm of explicit suicidal ideation, raising the question—should we be concerned about Billie Eilish? And what do we do with music that isn't just sad, but sounds like a genuine cry for help?

Although lyrics like "I want you to worry about me" and "call my friends and tell them that I'll miss them / but I'm not sorry" express new levels of desperation, Eilish has long been open about her struggles with mental illness. She told Zane Lowe on Apple Music's Beats 1 that depression had "controlled everything in [her] life," adding that "I've always been a melancholy person… I feel like there are some people that neutrally they're happy." When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? doesn't shy from this at all, visually and lyrically. Despite a few exhilarating tracks like "you should see me in a crown" (accompanied by one of the most magnificently creepy pop music videos in recent memory), it's mostly about depression, heartache, and death.

Billie Eilish - you should see me in a crown (official video by Takashi Murakami) - Teaser www.youtube.com

Eilish is no stranger to death, and it's clearly not a joke to her. She publicly mourned the passing of her friend XXXTentancion, who was shot in June, and by the sound of it he's not the only one; songs like "bury a friend" and "ilomilo" excavate these painful experiences.

But "bury a friend" and especially "listen before i go" both veer into explicit ideation at points; the latter is a veritable suicide note. It sounds like giving up, like a last call at the end of the night when plans have already been made. And that's where it goes too far.

Obviously, Billie Eilish not the first musician to write and speak out about these themes. Everyone from Billie Holliday to Elliot Smith has detailed the intricacies of their struggles in the public eye, and the media has been glamorizing the trope of the troubled young star since time immemorial. A new generation of emo-rappers, from Lil Peep to Lil Uzi Vert, has also brought raw, unfiltered honesty about mental illness into the mainstream.

Since extreme emotion is a shared aspect of the human experience, it's no surprise that these themes are so pervasive. Ours is a strange world—and especially for those growing up with unlimited access to the Internet, faced with pending environmental catastrophe and ever-more-insidious pressures from a voracious media-industrial complex, it's not an easy place to be. So all this definitely is not meant to criticize Eilish and her peers for feeling these things and for creating sad, furious, disconcerting art.

Image via Pitchfork

This also isn't a damnation of sad music. Sad songs and other forms of public honesty about mental illness can do a lot of important, often subversive work; they can interrupt the media's simulacrum of false happiness or function as catalysts for discussions about mental health. Those conversations are vitally important, especially in light of the fact that many reports say there's a higher level of depression and anxiety in teens than ever before, and when one in five adults struggles with a mental illness.

But there's a difference between being honest about mental health, and creating work that threatens actual self-harm and could be potentially triggering, especially for vulnerable fans who view artists as cult leaders who they'll follow, quite literally, to the end. Billie Eilish's new music goes too far because—coupled with her too-cool-for-you ethos and pending superstardom—she not only glamorizes mental illness; she glamorizes suicide, packages it up in a bundle of synths and bass and sells it for $200 a ticket.

Billie Eilish - bury a friend www.youtube.com

So what are we as listeners to do with music that's explicitly suicidal? In truth, there's not much we can do except trust that Eilish has a solid support system. She's in a band with her brother, and a whole bunch of people had to be involved in creating her album; hopefully, someone is taking steps to get her the help she needs. Of course, often with things like depression, even if you're close to the person, there's not too much you can do aside from validating their feelings and encouraging them to seek professional support. And even with professional help, there's no easy solution for mental illness, no neat way to sew it up; it's a monster that ebbs and flows, changing shape and requiring individualized treatment and attention.

This is most definitely not meant to criticize Eilish for speaking out, or to say that should just try yoga and get better. In fact, she's truly brave for speaking out so candidly about her feelings, for continuing to create and for staring fearlessly into the eyes of her demons.

But part of the issue here is that Eilish's music is so flat-out beautiful, her persona so magnetic. She's a bona fide star, with a huge amount of power that's sure to only grow with this release. In light of the huge amount of sway she holds over deeply impressionable kids across the globe, she now has a responsibility—or at least a tremendous opportunity—to speak out and share messages of support, to promise that it's okay to feel and struggle and that healing is possible, to inspire others not to give up, no matter how much pain they're in.

Billie Eilish - when the party's over www.youtube.com

After all, there are ways to talk about depression and mental illness without glorifying and aestheticizing them. Lana Del Rey has long been the poster girl for the "sad girl" trope, which came to a head when she received blowback from Francis Bean Cobain after telling an interviewer that she "wished she was dead already." Since then, Del Rey has released a hopeful Trump protest album followed by the empowering "Mariner's Apartment Complex." This shift in her approach, though slight, is significant because it moves away from the passivity that made her earlier work so dangerously seductive. And Julien Baker, who makes some of the saddest music around, is stunningly hopeful and inspiring in interviews and online, constantly spreading messages about faith, community, and recovery. Other artists like Selena Gomez and Lady Gaga have been explicit and honest about their mental health struggles, but equally explicit about their healing journeys.

Lana Del Rey - Mariners Apartment Complex www.youtube.com


Julien Baker - "Appointments" (Official Video) www.youtube.com

Eilish is also 17, significantly younger than any of the aforementioned artists, so she can be forgiven for not channeling her pain into some kind of larger force. It may be a good sign that she's coming to terms with her emotions early, that she's sharing them and learning how to deal with them. Often depression and mental illness stem from an inability to process deep-rooted trauma, so allowing oneself to traverse the depths of the subconscious mind and unearth repressed memories can be incredibly beneficial.

But for people as uniquely powerful and culturally influential as Eilish and her team—and for anyone interested in addressing and subverting the reasons mental illness is becoming an epidemic—simply being honest about mental illness isn't enough, especially in terms of serious suicidal ideation. Stopping the stigma should be a beginning point, the launching pad for structural changes and new ways of understanding and treating real mental health issues, not an end in itself. We should be talking about recovery, about how it is possible to live a full life while suffering from mental illness. We should be talking about how there are always options and pathways through places of darkness, and how it's definitely not beautiful or somehow more authentic and honest to give up hope.

If you or a friend are experiencing thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255 or visit afsp.org to learn more.


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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