Considering all the flak Lana Del Rey caught from the U.S. public after her polarizing "Saturday Night Live" performance earlier this year, she certainly is brave to take on the roles of possibly THE most worshipped female American icons of all time, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy, in her new music video, "National Anthem," released just in time for the 4th of July. But since Lana is still a much-debated and very mysterious figure in current pop culture, it turns out that she is perfectly cast as two of U.S. pop history's most fascinating women.
The almost eight-minute mini-movie, which also stars rising rapper A$AP Rocky in the John F. Kennedy role, begins with Lana serenading A$AP with "Happy Birthday" (mimicking how Marilyn so famously performed for Kennedy at a 1962 Democratic fundraiser), before going on to chronicle the glamorous life of what has to be the hippest, sexiest, and swinging-est First Couple ever to rock the White House.
In the ambitious video, a bouffant-topped Lana (channeling a bit of Priscilla Presley as well as Jackie) and President A$AP shoot dice at a wild yacht party with their "Mad Men"-goes-hip-hop clique of fancy friends; frolic on a Hyannisport-style seaside compound with their adorable First Children; and grope each other on Air Force One...before a fateful Dallas motorcade trip, a la JFK's 1963 assassination, brings their all-American love story to its inevitable, tragic conclusion. It's simply a stunning video.
The backlash against Lana Del Rey--which began last year, when hipster blogs questioned her authenticity, and reached its peak this past January with that whole "SNL" debacle--has been well-documented by now as one of the most vicious in recent music history. But over the past few months, there has been a bit of a frontlash, so to speak, with sympathizers coming to realize that detractors' cries for Lana's tarring and feathering got a bit out of hand. Now, Lana is practically a cause célèbre--and "National Anthem," which takes the retro, home-movie-footage aesthetic of her YouTube breakthrough "Video Games" to an entirely new level, may do much to further reinstate her credibility.
And while Lana has been rightfully criticized in the past for being a less-than-vivacious live performer, due to her dead-eye detachment and almost total lack of stage presence, in "National Anthem" she demonstrates real sizzling chemistry with her co-star A$AP, flashes her seldom-seen smile on multiple occasions, and even showcases some actual acting chops in the dramatic final motorcade scene. Lana may not possess the star quality and charisma of Marilyn or Jackie, exactly, but at least she seems a little more three-dimensional here.
What do you think "National Anthem"? Does Lana makes a convincing Marilyn or Jackie? Let us know.