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The 11 best Lana del Rey songs

With Lana now set to headline BST Hyde Park in July, we rank her greatest songs

Not only a world-class singer but a superb architect of world building that feels like a lucid, melancholic dream, Lana del Rey came to light in the early 2010s with ‘Video Games’. In the year’s since, she’s grown to heights that pleases the worlds of mainstream pop and muso indie in equal measure. Her latest studio album, Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, sweeps between her classic Golden Age Hollywood aesthetic and more modern, eclectic trappings.

With news that Lana del Rey is set to headline BST Hyde Park on Sunday 9 July, we look back through her prolific back catalogue to rank her best 11 songs of all time.

11. Norman F*cking Rockwell

(Norman F*cking Rockwell!, 2019)

The namesake of Lana’s sixth studio album, this shimmering piano ballad centres on the creative but inflated ego of her ‘man child’ boyfriend. The lyrical bluntness (“You talk to the walls when the party gets bored of you”) is cutting and funny, but the bright piano lines possess a 70s dreaminess that gives this song its emotional impact.

10. Let The Light In (feat. Father John Misty)

(Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, 2023)

People have long seen Lana del Rey and Father John Misty together as the boss-levels of sad girl/boy chamber pop ever since they appeared together in the video for ‘Freak’, from 2015’s Honeymoon. The simply elegant ‘Let The Light In’ proves just how perfect a pairing they are as their harmonies embrace almost tentatively in the chorus.

9. Summertime Sadness

(Born To Die, 2012)

With its cinematic synth swathes and Spaghetti Western guitars, few capture the old time Hollywood glamour of Lana’s vibe than ‘Summertime Sadness’ (not to mention La La Land lines such as “Dancin’ in the dark, in the pale moonlight/ Done my hair up real big, beauty queen style”). In fact, if you had to show someone who’d been living in a cave for the last 10 years a song that epitomises Lana del Rey, it’d probably be this. The shuffling beat of the chorus injects the track with some needed energy, allowing her vocals to blow like a warm breeze. 

8. Brooklyn Baby

(Ultraviolence, 2014)

On this soaring festival favourite, Lana moves from her sunny West Coast to trendy New York to take aim at its Williamsburg hipsters: “I get high on hydroponic weed/ And my jazz collection’s rare/ I get down to Beat poetry”. She also references Lou Reed, who was supposed to feature on the track before his untimely death.

7. West Coast

(Ultraviolence, 2014)

In 2017 Lana sang with Stevie Nicks for ‘Beautiful People Beautiful Problems’, a match made in heaven that could have easily made this list. But years before, on her debut Ultraviolence, the Dan Auerbach-produced ‘West Coast’ channeled the energy of her idol as ‘The Edge Of Seventeen’ echoed throughout the line “Move baby move baby, I’m in love.” If you listen carefully you can hear the ambient waves that would later resurface on ‘Doin’ Time’.

6. Mariners Apartment Complex

(Norman F*cking Rockwell!, 2019)

The first song Lana made with pop’s most in-demand producer Jack Antonoff, ‘Mariners’ Apartment Complex’ also introduced a warmer, folk-rock sound into her world. Referencing her ‘Venice bitch’ persona, the track is about having to be the brave one in a relationship for the other’s sake, about being “the bolt, the lightning, the thunder.” Quite cleverly, sonically the song also nods to the former’s gentle psychedelic charm.

5. Doin’ Time

(Norman F*cking Rockwell!, 2019)

A huge fan of Long Beach ska-punk band Sublime, Lana took everyone by surprise when she covered ‘Doin’ Time’, taking its loungey keys, upping the SoCal levels and drenching it in a beachy ambience. Listening to it is like coming up for air, or feeling the sand in your hair on the kind of summer holiday that seems to exist only in childhood memories.

4. A&W

(Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, 2023)

This track is a seven-minute long look in the mirror in two parts. A dark thread stitches the suspenseful piano arrangement of the first half with the pulsing, industrial trip hop of the second (it’s not trap, as much as others would have you believe). This ominous backdrop really makes the line “This is the experience of bein’ an American whore” hammer home even harder, and the effect is jarring yet weirdly incredibly moreish. 

3. Venice Bitch

A rich and vivid song that topped many end of year lists after its release in 2019, ‘Venice Bitch’ has a hazy glow with lots of subtle instrumental details and a psych-rock guitar climax that, after its nine minute runtime reportedly made her management say “Why do you do this to us? Can you make a three-minute normal pop song?” But it’s exactly the hypnotic, off-kilter nature of this ode to American love that makes it special.

2. For Free

(Chemtrails Over The Country Club, 2021)

Lana’s collaborators have always been on point, but this Los Angeles triumvirate with Weyes Blood and Zella Day is up there with one of her best collaborations. Stripped of the normal atmospheric melancholia, ‘For Free’ feels like a palate cleanser, each voice of this sonorous sisterhood complimenting the next intuitively. 

1. Video Games

(Born To Die, 2012)

It’s funny, because in a different context the church bell that opens Lana’s debut single, ‘Video Games’, might otherwise signify the end. The sombre tone of her opening melody hangs over her like a mourning veil, too. But this was just the beginning of the artist’s legacy, introducing her self-proclaimed “Gangster Nancy Sinatra” chic to the world with immediate effect. Of course, the song does capture the death of a relationship, a state of transition that would become a central theme in her universe that, as this song exemplifies, is treated with a sweeping, cinematic dignity.

Lana del Rey has announced a headline show at BST Hyde Park on Sunday 9 July. Tickets go on sale here from 10am on Friday 27 April.