Lana Del Rey makes exquisite music videos, and “High By The Beach” is no exception. Lively colors filter a dark, sultry mood, and she emits a persona that’s inscrutable, beautiful, and yet perpetually sad. Collectively, she has successfully created stimulating visuals that also serve as works of art.
Released on August 10th, 2015, “High By The Beach” is Lana’s latest music video. It begins with a view of the ocean. The camera zooms in onto a house placed by the sea. Part industrial and part penthouse-looking, the house exudes a glamorous appeal. Blue is the prominent color. As we peer through the lenses of our screen, we see vast horizons of blue skies and blue ocean with no end in sight.
Lana wears a light blue translucent robe underneath her night gown. She does not look as though she lives or belongs there. Rather, it seems as if she has been residing or hiding out for an extended period of time. The furniture in her abode is minimal, and in some rooms like the kitchen there’s no furniture at all. Shelves have no books on them, and there is nothing on the walls. Many windows have no curtains.
We watch Lana as she reads a newspaper on the kitchen counter. It appears to be a paparazzi-based publication. Though it’s hard to fully see what’s on the cover or on the pages she rummages through, certain pictures appear to resemble her. The question begins to surface, is this a love song about a past lover? Could it perhaps be a torrid love song about paparazzi, fame, and being in the limelight?
We see a helicopter flying next to the house. From our perspective, it’s hard to tell if they are photographing Lana or just explicitly spying on her. Whatever it is, it feels intrusive and unwelcome. She’s beautiful as the helicopter closes in on the house blowing wind through the open window. Her gown and robe flow effortlessly. She at first sways back and forth while the helicopter imposes on her privacy and isolation, and she basks in the exposure.
Suddenly she feels an urge to run and get a torpedo. We watch her leave the house to go to the beach and find a guitar case carrying the weapon. We watch her carry it back upstairs and into the house. She then blows up the helicopter, and we see an array of frayed and burning letters, papers, notes, and newspaper clippings falling from the sky. She never looks happier than when she’s shooting the helicopter down. We see imagery of the ocean as letters and writings are sprayed amongst the shoreline.
So, is this a sad love song about one particular person, or perhaps a song about her inner angst and pain over being scrutinized and invaded by the public eye? Maybe it’s both. If this is a love song about someone, it’s clear that she yearns to leave. It’s a situation that has caused her immense pain. Love can be an isolating experience, especially when it’s toxic or uncomfortable in some way. Lana sings “I wont survive if this is real.” Sometimes it seems there is no way to end certain relationships without burning the whole thing down. Perhaps in these moments the only way to get out is to ruin it all.
Love is similar to success. It can be fire and ice. The very things which we love and bring us joy can cause tremendous turmoil. When we get what we think we want, it can at times merely reinforce that these very things don’t actually fulfill us how we assume and hope they will. Here, even success comes at a cost – one which often leaves many lonely, isolated, and tormented, ultimately being fed by the same people who starve them.