When it comes to musicians making aesthetics, many will say nobody does it better than alternative artist, Lana Del Rey. The singer has released six albums since 2012, with each one having its own distinctive style and inspiring unique “eras” throughout her career. Although they all fall under Del Rey’s old Hollywood inspired aesthetic, there’s different themes throughout these eras, so let's look into them.
Before fame, Lana Del Rey, born Elizabeth Wooldridge Grant, went by the stage name Lizzy Grant. This time is considered memorable as well by many of her fans. During Lana’s “Lizzy Grant Era,” she was a bleached blonde singing in New York City small venues and living in a New Jersey trailer park. Although it isn't very distinctive, some fans say this is their favorite era because it represents just a girl trying to make it while struggling with addiction to hard drugs and other hardships.
Lana Del Rey’s first album, Born to Die, was released in 2012 and brought Del Rey into the public eye. With this being her most pop-like album, this work and era included things like high heels, big hoop earrings, heart shaped sunglasses, and gold chains. This aesthetic was supposed to make her appear like a pop star before her label really knew what genre she truly belonged to. Big, 60’s inspired hairdos were also a staple of her style at the time. Tumblr was a big app as well, and Lana quickly became an obsession of angsty teens who used it. People fell in love with the nostalgic, retro look she had.
Also, in 2012, Lana Del Rey released an EP called Paradise. This era and album are similar to Born to Die but with a little bit less pop influence. Songs like “Yayo '' and “Blue Velvet” are what sets it apart. However, the biggest influence is the 10 minute music video for the EP’s biggest hit, “Ride.” The music video features monologues and scenes depicting the freedom of the open road, inspiring fans everywhere. American flags were also heavily used and are the era’s staple along with hair flowing in the wind.
Even though her first two albums and eras were very successful, Lana Del Rey thought of herself as just another industry pop star. She wanted to set herself apart and distinguish herself as a brilliant song writer. That's exactly what she did in 2014 with, Ultraviolence. The album's dark themes of violence, drug abuse, affairs, and extremely toxic relationships really set the vibe for this era. Also, instead of the pop like production of the majority of her previous work, electric guitar and drums gave a much more grunge and rock like sound. Paired with things like leather jackets, black eyeliner, dark brown hair, and cigarettes, this era brought a Lana that nobody had seen before. This is also when she first professes her love for California and the West coast, main themes in her upcoming albums
Lana Del Rey’s next album, Honeymoon, brings what many fans consider her most aesthetically pleasing era. The vibe of this 2015 album almost feels surreal. The songs seem to flow like a breeze and the aesthetics of this time match it. Lose flowing clothes, long wavy hair, and a feeling of soft 50’s glamour make this era a work of art. This combined with the mix of songs like “Terrence Loves You” and “God Knows I Tried” that make the mood, and power songs like “Freak” and “Salvatore” are what really make this album and era as magical as it is.
Lust For Life is Lana Del Rey’s 5th Album. Released in 2017, it brought another new, unique style. The main look of this era is the 1970s. With a vintage truck and daisies in the singers hair, the album cover already brings the hippie vibe. Music videos for the songs “Love” and “Lust for Life” also feature Lana in vintage clothing. A very well thoughout era, the music also has matching throwback themes such as the song “Cochella - Woodstock in My Mind.” This album is also the only one with songs featuring other artists. Stevie Nicks and Sean Ono Lennon’s songs with Del Rey on the album make the 70s themes even more real. There’s also songs that feature A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, and The Weeknd which bring back some of the pop tones of Born to Die. All together, the style of this era was one of her most distinct.
2019 brought Lana Del Rey’s most recent album, NFR. This era was much more casual style-wise. Simple outfits and winged eyeliner were the staples of this time. The album itself is very much centered around California. NFR’s theme is Lana’s life in the Golden State. The production is a slower melody in all the songs and each track is carefully thought out. The album was also nominated for album of the year at the 2019 Grammys. This is many fans favorite album but not favorite era, just because it didn’t have many distinct features. NFR seems to be a transition for Del Rey into what appears to be more laid back styles and being more influential through her lyrics.
Fans are anxiously anticipating Lana Del Rey’s 7th studio album, Chemtrails Over the Country Club, which has been postponed from September 2020 to the Spring of 2021. However, the singer is releasing an album covering some “American classics” which should be released by Chrismas. There’s not much of her new era to show yet, but she has said COTCC will be very different from NFR, and is more “folky.” Only time will tell how Lana Del Rey’s future eras will be, but if it's anything like her previous work, it will be unforgettable and impact many fans and new listeners alike.