Leave it to Lana Del Rey to capture the ultimate in California cool.
Lana Del Rey, whose third studio album, Ultraviolence, came out last week, released a new video Tuesday for the album's second single, "Shades of Cool." In it she flirts with a man old enough to be her father while capturing a romantic film noir vision of Cali living in a long bygone era. The mysterious love interest is famed Hollywood tattoo artist Mark Mahoney, MTV reports. He also appears in Lana Del Rey's video for "West Coast."
The video was filmed throughout Los Angeles and was directed by Brit director Jake Nava, whose other recent credits include Adele's "Someone Like You" and at least seven Beyoncé videos. Its narrative shows Lana singing to a hardened Steve McQueen type (Mahoney), who appears to be her May-December lover.
Lana dances in flowing dresses, wanders through mid-century neighborhoods, gives lustful looks, smokes, eats strawberries lustfully, and even shows quite a bit of skin while frolicking in the pool, all during the course of the video's dream-like journey.
"He lives for love, he loves his drugs, he loves his baby too," she croons. "But I can't fix him, can't make him better, can't do nothing about his strange weather.
Lana Del Rey has been a polarizing figure in the music industry since she first came on the scene in 2011. Born Elizabeth Grant in upstate New York, she released her first EP under the artist name Lizzie Grant. When she didn't meet with success at first, she dyed her hair, glammed up, and eventually rebranded herself as "Lana Del Ray" (note slightly different spelling), assuming a new bombshell identity that hearkened back to classic Hollywood. It was this transformation that led some music bloggers to question her authenticity as an artist.
Most people learned of Lana for the first time during her disastrous performance on Saturday Night Live in January 2012, which NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams regrettably later told Gawker founder Nick Denton he thought was "one of the worst outings in SNL history."
More recently, Lana stirred up controversy again when she told British paper The Guardian, "I wish I was dead already." Though it seemed her quote may have been taken out of context, the Born to Die chanteuse also mentioned her death wish in an interview with the New York Times, saying, "I love the idea that it'll all be over. It's just a relief, really. I'm scared to die, but I want to die."
Lana's first couple of songs created good buzz for her: "Video Games" put her on the scene in 2011, and "Blue Jeans" and "Born to Die," both from her second album Born to Die, were strong releases, leading the album to be the fifth-best worldwide seller of 2012. She released an EP, Paradise, later that year, which spawned another single in the song "Ride."
However, in summer 2013, the combination of two huge hits took Lana's career to the next level. She scored her first 2013 smash with "Young and Beautiful" for director Baz Luhrmann's soundtrack to The Great Gatsby, then a remix of the song "Summertime Sadness" (from Born to Die) by DJ Cedric Gervais launched her into the stratosphere of pop culture.
"Young and Beautiful" gained more popularity when Kanye West had a full orchestra perform the song at AT&T Park in San Francisco when he proposed to Kim Kardashian. Lana performed for the couple last month on the night before their wedding at a giant party at the Palace of Versailles.
With Ultraviolence, which has garnered almost all positive reviews thus far and is on track to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album charts, Lana appears to be here to stay as a powerful force in the music industry, depiste any supposed death wish. She dazzled crowds two weekends in a row at Coachella back in April, debuting much of her new music live for the first time. That included leadoff single "West Coast," which echoes the theme continued here in "Shades of Cool."