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Lana Del Rey’s ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ Encapsulates Genuine Love and the Chaos of Fame

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Lana Del Rey graced fans with an 11-track album titled “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” on March 19, shifting her genre to that of a country-folk tone, as opposed to its 2019 predecessor, “Norman F***ing Rockwell!” that features a more indie, desert rock sound. “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” surveys the chaos of fame and the ever-growing exploitation in Hollywood with reference to Del Rey’s wild spirit and life before stardom. The album ventures away from her previous themes of tragic romance and self-destruction, taking a step towards her delicacy and maturity as an artist.

The album opens with “White Dress,” a soft piano song that features Del Rey singing in a folksy falsetto voice that examines what her life was like as Lizzie Grant — a small-town waitress with big dreams. She sings, “I felt free cause I was only nineteen,” which is how old she was when her EP “Young Like Me” was created, yet never released due to the singer not having a producer. At nineteen, Del Rey was extremely naive and idolized the music industry. In the lyrics, “It made me feel, made me feel like a God / It kinda makes me feel, like maybe I was better off,” she further prospects Hollywood in terms of the entertainment industry and how it has affected her. The glorification and respect that comes with being recognized causes her to feel a sense of godliness, yet the pressures and chaos of public esteem is something that she also feels she could have lived without. “White Dress” is able to set the foundation for the rest of the album, connecting listeners to Del Rey with a new form of intimacy that hasn’t yet been featured in her music.

Photo provided by Lana Del Rey @LanaDelRey/Twitter

The album’s titular track uses the imagery of chemtrails to expose the oblivion of wealth and the American dream. Evident in the lyrics “We’re in our jewels in the swimming pool” and “Suburbia, The Brentwood Market / What to do next? Baby, what of it? / White picket chemtrails over the country club,” The singer nods to the luxuries and sense of freedom that come with succeeding in America, referencing the conspiracy of chemtrails to hint at the fact we’re often blinded by riches. The corresponding music video offers a Gatsby-like essence with the singer dressed in glamour and extravagant pearls, driving around in a red vintage Mercedes-Benz and hanging with elegant friends at the pool and country club. The whole video gives off old Hollywood vibes when, suddenly, the angelic piano sound drowns out and is replaced by dark, melancholy tones that follow Del Rey and her friends turning into werewolves. The switch from a seemingly blissful life to a scary nightmare can be used to further divulge into the idea behind Hollywood exploiting success in America. 

Whereas “Norman F***ing Rockwell!” serves as an ode to Del Rey’s Los Angeles life, “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” moves with the singer’s disillusionment of the corrupted music industry. “Wild At Heart” and “Let Me Love You Like A Woman” both portray the singer as someone frustrated with their current life who is ready to flee the toxic Hollywood lifestyle and venture into the unknown. This is expressed in the lyrics: “I left Calabasas, escaped all the ashes, ran into the dark” and “I’m ready to leave LA and I want you to come / I guess I could manage if you stay.” Del Rey reveals a sense of growth and independence in these songs that weren’t previously received from any other album. She often illustrated her dependence on relationships and found herself getting involved in hazy romances. The line in “Let Me Love You Like A Woman,” voices her growth and newfound independence. Funnily enough, not only are both of these songs a signal of her development, they are probably the most folk-like on the album. 

To fully encompass her emotions towards her fame, Del Rey wrote, “Dark But Just A Game.” The title, interestingly enough, was given to her by its producer, Jack Antonoff, at the 2020 Oscars afterparty. This track fully embodies the horrors and tragedies that often come with fame. Tracing from Kurt Cobain to Whitney Houston to Amy Winehouse, the price of popularity may be one’s demons. This is apparent in the lyrics “The faces aren’t the same, but their stories all end tragically / (Sweet or whatever, baby),” signifying that this lifestyle may seem glorious, but it is more deceiving than everyone thinks. 

Photo provided by Lana Del Rey @LanaDelRey/Twitter

One of the most notable details in “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” may just be Del Rey’s strong sense of authenticity and resilience as a woman. Throughout the album, the indie-folk singer says on three different occasions that she won’t be defined as a candle in the wind. This metaphor was originally used in a song by Elton John — dedicated to the late Marilyn Monroe — that signified something as extremely vulnerable or weak. Del Rey utilizes this phrase to overcome her past self and signify her spiritual and emotional development. 

Released only a month ago due to a delay caused by the global pandemic, “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” triumphantly captures Lana Del Rey’s honesty towards the Hollywood music industry, including a new form of authenticity that her music had yet to journey us on. Building off of her previous destructive nature and alternative sound, the singer’s seventh studio album succeeds at delivering Del Rey’s self-love and growth.

McKenzie Boney is an Entertainment Intern for the Spring 2021 Quarter. She can be reached at mboney@uci.edu.