Music Reviews

Lana Del Rey Releases New Single

Our review of the new melancholy ballad.

Lana Del Rey proves once again that she is the queen of spooky lo-fi piano ballads. Her new single,"Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it" is as lyrically dense as the long-winded title suggests, beautifully following Del Rey through a consideration of fame, family, and womanhood. But what sets the song apart is the juxtaposition of the timeless ballad style sung in Del Rey's lilting voice, and the modern violence of her words.

It's an objectively pretty song, but more importantly, it commits to its own theatricality whole heartedly. It's perfectly stylized teenage angst forcing every listener to feel something of the pubescent-glory of a 15-year-old girl weeping into her pink bed spread, mourning everything and nothing. Its absurdly melodramatic, and yet somehow earnest and hopeful too.

Among the best lines are:

"I've been tearing around in my fucking nightgown/24/7 Sylvia Plath"

"Shaking my ass is the only thing that's/Got this black narcissist off my back/She couldn't care less, and I never cared more/So there's no more to say about that"

"Servin' up God in a burnt coffee pot for the triad/Hello, it's the most famous woman you know on the iPad/Calling from beyond the grave, I just wanna say, 'Hi, Dad.'"

Each line is written so informally they sound like viral tweets, but what the song lacks in grandiose language, it more than makes up for in concentration of feeling. Paired with the spooky, airy soundscape and perfectly minimal production, the poetry of the single creates an inescapable swell of nostalgia.

"Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it" clads you in a silk, victorian-style nightgown, places you in a candle lit room with a baby grand piano...but then it covers the baby grand in lines of coke, hangs Taylor Lautner posters and cosmo clippings on the walls, and adds a strobe light. It's the perfect absurd teen anthem for this particular moment in time, and leaves us in anticipation of Lana Del Rey's upcoming album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, expected out sometime this year.

Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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Miranda Joan releases "Home"

Canadian singer/songwriter Miranda Joan has spent her time during the pandemic reflecting on her life and reconnecting with her roots.

She then put pen to paper and crafted the beautifully contemplative "Home." Premiering today on Popdust, Joan displays her stunning soulful vocals, which float delicately atop soft, glowing piano melodies and soaring harmonies, building into a toe-tapping, head-bopping beat. Her heart-wrenching lyrics narrate her longing for her family and fear of isolation, afraid of not being able to find a comforting place she can call home now that she has flown the nest.

Miranda Joan - Home (Official Music Video)

The accompanying music video features dreamy, hazy visuals showing the singer wandering around nature, discovering her new surroundings and trying to find peace in her new home. Joan wraps us up in her golden tones and celestial soundscapes. Singing, "Where will I go and what will I see? Where will I find home and where will it find me?" Joan ponders if she'll ever find her safe space again. Yet despite her concerns, she somehow manages to provide comfort for listeners, showing us that wherever we go, we can make a home for ourselves.

Born in Montréal and raised in Vancouver, Joan is influenced by the likes of Carole King, Erykah Badu and Emily King to name a few. The songwriter transports the listener to a glistening neo-soul world, where everything just feels a little bit better. So get lost in her sweet tones and find your "Home" with Miranda Joan.

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This article contains mentions of sexual assault that some readers may find disturbing.

In February, singer Duffy told the world the cause of her decade-long absence from music: trauma from a kidnapping and rape. This Sunday, Duffy detailed the events and their aftermath in a 3600-word blog post on her website.

The post briefly describes what happened, but it focuses more on Duffy's psychological trauma following the event and, eventually, describes her slow journey towards the decision to share her story.

She acknowledges the fact that her post comes in the midst of coronavirus, when millions are stuck at home, living in fear and instability and isolation. "It troubles me that this story contains sorrow, when so many need the opposite of that at this time," she begins. "I can only hope that my words serve as a momentary distraction or maybe even some comfort that one can come out of darkness."

Her decision to post the story comes from a knowledge that just like she will never be able to become who she was before she was raped, there will never be a right time to share her story—and now, it might be able to help some people who feel as lost and scared as she did.

"I was tired of hiding," she wrote. "What is also hard to explain is that, in hiding, in not talking, I was allowing the rape to become a companion. Me and it living in my being, I no longer wanted to feel that intimacy with it, a decade of that intimacy has been destructive. I had to set myself free. I have been hurt and it would have been dangerous to talk from that hurt place in the past, prior to feeling ready."

The description of what happened to her is brief and vague and horrifying, like the stuff of true nightmares. "It was my birthday, I was drugged at a restaurant," Duffy writes. From there, she was taken home and drugged, then brought to a foreign country in a plane and a car, where she was raped in a hotel room for days. Eventually, her assailant took her back to her house and held her there. At last he left, but the trauma did not. The ordeal lasted four weeks.

Following what happened, Duffy wrote, she spent a long time with the memories as a silent companion, living in isolation, hiding from the world and wasting away. She told no one, blaming herself, wondering what she'd done to deserve what happened. She moved to five different houses before finally settling down, never feeling safe until she reached the "fifth house," in an unspecified location somewhere by the ocean. Appropriately, the essay is called "The 5th House." Eventually, she told a psychologist and a police officer what happened, and she slowly began to reconnect with life and the world. She ultimately found solace in the quote, "In the end, it's never between them and you, it's always between them and God."

Because of all this, Duffy is no stranger to painful solitude. After she was raped, she spent a long time isolating herself, struggling and failing to love and trust. Throughout the essay, she extends love and sympathy to anyone feeling alone and afraid right now.

Now, she wants to share her story in order to connect with and help others facing isolation and fear. What helped her survive years of isolation was therapy, gratitude, time, and the generosity of fans and friends who opened their homes to her and extended support.

Isolation can be extremely painful, but there are ways to make it through. "Knowing the mind's science enables you to manage it," she advised. "And isolation is a small price to pay for saving lives, therefore we must be strong in the face of it. This demands us all, as one, to act for each other; never has mindfulness been so vital as it is now," she continued. "Naturally, the key is love. If you are reading this and are sad my encouragement to you is that … to know pain, you must first know how to love. Only the absence of love causes pain. So, go find it. Seek love in everything, even in a teacup."

Duffy -

Duffy ends the essay by saying that she hopes to produce more music and feels she owes it to herself to produce a body of work someday, but she can't promise anything. "Hopefully no more "what happened to Duffy questions," she concludes. "Now you know… and I am free."

Duffy's decision to go public with her story was praised by Rape Crisis, a rape charity. Katie Russel, the national spokesperson for the England and Wales branch of the organization, said that the post was "a really bold move" and "really commendable."

"We know through our frontline work at Rape Crisis why so few victims and survivors do speak about what has happened to them, or indeed report it to the police," Russell said. "It is because there is a lot of shame and stigma still attached to being raped or sexually assaulted and there are a lot of myths and stereotypes out there around the kind of people it happens to. In speaking out Duffy is reaching out to those people who maybe are suffering on their own.

"When people in the public eye speak about their experiences it really does help to encourage debate and widen understanding. That's really important because there is still a lack of understanding and we don't talk enough about rape and sexual violence."

Speaking out can never make up the lost time and loss of self that comes after something like this, but it can create new pathways of hope and strength for other people affected by these horrible things. In her post, Duffy wrote, "I am sharing this because we are living in a hurting world and I am no longer ashamed… I believe that if you speak from the heart within you, the heart within others will answer. As dark as my story is, I do speak from my heart, for my life, and for the life of others, whom have suffered the same."

Similarly, making it through and recovering from COVID-19 will require community action and connection like nothing we've seen before, but it will also take things from us that we'll never get back—including time. What we can do is find the small moments of gratitude within it all and extend love to others while we can.

Or, as Duffy says, "There will be great change to come from our shared crisis, a renewed understanding and appreciation of freedom and human connection, but nothing comforts loss, only time."