As little as the prospect of writing about yet another Lana Del Nope video enthuses me, “Summertime Sadness” exists and must be written about. Lana knows this. She’s probably timed it all. “Blue Jeans” came out juuuust before the weather’d require blue jorts; “National Anthem” came out around the Fourth of July, when such anthems are played. Now we’re back to the rainy, muggy, holiday-free doldrums of summer, so we return to previous single “Summertime Sadness.” (It’s actually shocking that “Off to the Races” wasn’t released in time for the Kentucky Derby.) For those of you who’ve mentally filed Born This Way in the part of your brain that doesn’t remember freakoutery, It’s the one that goes “baby, you’re the best.” Wait, no. It’s the one where she talks about having her red dress on and kissing her hard–damn it.
It is a Lana Del Rey song. There. We’ve treated Lana Del Rey songs several ways in the past–one of which was liveblogging, for “Born to Die.” This seems like another good candidate, as it’s light on plot and heavy on aesthetics and, as I’ve been pre-spoiled, apparently contains a twist.
(Oh, and prospective commenters? Understanding a video doesn’t mean you automatically end up liking it. You can understand a video and still find it simplistic.)
[0:05]: #okaytheresdefinitelyafilter #maybeseventy
[0:10]: Nothing has happened yet. I’m watching this video on Spin’s site, and my eyes just wandered to the background, which consists mostly of steak. In other words, Lana Del Rey’s video is so far less enticing than steak pictures. Let’s call this research: you’d do just as well writing about Lana Del Rey videos as steak. Like so.
[0:15]: Look, crackle effects on the film! I’m dead of realness.
[0:21]: Lana is on the scene.
[0:23]: Lana is no longer on the scene, having been engulfed by a large flare of yellow.
[0:26]: Now we’re in a meadow with a couple waterfalls and a slightly different filter. It looks like the backdrop you’d film for a Loreena McKennitt song. It also gets engulfed by a large flare of yellow.
[0:30]: We’ve gone from the forest to a row of trees by a hill, something you might actually encounter in real life and not some New Age fantasy world. All this scenery, I suppose, serves to illustrate that we’re in a land of summertime and possibly sadness.
[0:35]: Lana Del Rey is singing while looking vaguely sedated; more succinctly, Lana Del Rey is singing. There are heavy hints that she’s either going to jump off the hill or (more likely, because this is a hill and not a cliffside) tumble down it like a 7-year-old.
[0:47]: Lana’s now facing the bottom of the hill and slowly outspreading her arms. The hints are probably more like “blatant signs” at this point.
[0:49]: I hate being right.
[0:57]: Lana’s not dead, because it’s less than a minute in the video; instead, she’s re-emerged in front of some rococo, smoke-engulfed gate and is staring at the camera. Her hair is wafting in the smoke.
[1:10]: Jaime King! She was the woman in that video by The Fray! (Yes, we know she’s a film actor primarily, and we’re only pointing this out because somebody won’t be able to recognize a joke in the comments if we don’t.)
[1:25]: Some business with Lana being driven around beneath power lines, with smoke and with flashback quick-cuts. This seems like a good time to point out that nothing has happened in this video except 10 variations on the same aesthetic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except that the aesthetic’s rather tired by now.
[1:38]: I swear I wrote that part about aesthetics being tired before Lana and Jaime started twirling around in a field and smiling at the camera. They’re either supposed to be ex-friends or ex-lovers, I’m guessing. Maybe “guessing”‘s the wrong word; no guesswork was involved.
[2:22]: If you’re wondering why there’s a large time gap here, it’s because I’ve already mentioned everything that’s happened until now. Jaime King is standing by a bridge in a red dress looking down. You know where this is going.
[2:28]: If you want to piss a lot of fans off, compare this video to Rihanna’s ““We Found Love.” They’re the same concept. (And the same concept as lots of other videos before them, but who needs historical context while trolling?)
[2:41]: Lana Del Rey has choked somebody and is biting off her ear in front of an old-Hollywood movie poster. (You can tell it’s old-Hollywood because it says “out on videocassette” and because this is a Lana Del Rey video.) I point this out so I can write that first sentence.
[3:16]: OH LOOK CHRIST IMAGERY WOW
[3:17]: In case you don’t instantly recognize the (sigh) Christ imagery, there are now about three separate shots of Lana outstretching her arms wearing white clothes. You know this was all filmed months ago because there’s no product placement–you know, something implying that you can purchase said white clothes at H&M.
[3:28]: Four shots.
[3:49]: It’s pointless to keep counting shots after this, so let’s check in on the plot! Lana and Jaime have both jumped, a process that’s taken about 15 seconds. It is all very glamorized, and it is all very cliched.
[4:00]: Is there going to be some sort of resolution where they’re re-united in the afterlife???
[4:41]: There sort of is! Walking down a lonesome road in the haze could mean nothing else.
[4:43]: This is where a moral to the live-blog should go, so: Lana Del Rey’s video is something you yourself could’ve made in a spare afternoon. That sounds sarcastic, but I distinctly remember filming at least five of these scenes during a high-school English project about Hamlet. Not everything can be a high-concept video, but at this point it’s safe to say no one is trying. See you when “Off to the Races” gets an old-timey re-enactment.