Lana Del Rey started her career — at least under that moniker — as “Lolita got lost in the hood,” as she told The Guardian back in 2011. The reference to the iconic Vladimir Nabokov-penned nymphet consequently wove itself through her LP Born To Die, casting Del Rey as a “little starlet singing in the garden” and charmin’ “Carmen” — in short, a character we got to know in high school English classes.
Now, it seems, Del Rey hit the books again, as she has titled her upcoming sophomore record Ultra-Violence, a reference to Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel “A Clockwork Orange.” Tuesday night, Del Rey announced the title of her next LP at the Hollywood premiere of her short film “Tropico,” a “Paradise Lost”-esque number featuring songs from Born To Die: The Paradise Edition.
“I really just wanted us all to be together so I could try and visually close out my chapter before I release the new record, Ultra-Violence,” Del Rey told the audience, without giving up any more details.
According to “Tropico” director Anthony Mandler, however, the record could be a shift for the singer. “She talks about this [film] being the bookend to this character, I think [she means] it’s the bookend to the character she’s been playing since she stepped into the spotlight,” he told Rolling Stone. “I don’t know about the new project, but I assume it’ll be the next chapter.”
That chapter, we’re assuming, could be cribbed from “A Clockwork Orange,” a Dystopian novel-come-film that deals with violence-obsessed — or, rather “ultra-violence” — teen Alex and his re-education process. The themes of the novel bookend (pun intended) nicely with Del Rey’s obsession with “Lolita,” which also deals with a kind of teenage fall from grace.
But “Lolita” and “A Clockwork Orange” are hardly Del Rey’s only brushes with the bookshelf. In fact, references in her oeuvre would make up a pretty comprehensive high school reading list. MTV News breaks them down below:
‘A Clockwork Orange,’ by Anthony Burgess
We’re not sure yet what Ultra-Violence will entail, but we’d be surprised if Alex and his drooges didn’t make some sort of appearance.
‘Lolita,’ by Vladimir Nabokov
References to “Lolita” are sprinkled liberally throughout Born To Die, from “Off to the Races” — about a commandeering older lover — to “Carmen,” which is a reference to a term of endearment given to Lolita by Humbert Humbert, to a song downright called “Lolita.” Del Rey even has a tattoo reading “Nabokov Whitman” on her arm.
‘I Sing The Body Electric,’ by Walt Whitman
Speaking of Whitman, Del Rey pays homage to the poet in both the song “Body Electric” — a nod to his “Leaves of Grass” poem — and in “Tropico,” in which she recites the poem in addition to performing the song. All of this occurs during Del Rey and her lover’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, of course.
‘Howl,’ by Allen Ginsberg
Whitman isn’t the only poet Del Rey digs. During a scene in “Tropico” when businessmen order strippers but get robbed instead, Del Rey recites beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” in its entirety. Where’s Ginsberg’s tat, though, Rey?
‘Paradise Lost,’ by John Milton
Let’s also not forget that “Tropico” is basically a massive retelling of Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost.” Mandler explains the title thusly: “The word kind of lends itself to a paradise and a paradise lost. Lana had always had it in her head as the title.”
Granted, a thing or two gets left out, but at 27 minutes, the mini-film is pretty epic, anyway.
‘The Great Gatsby,’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Del Rey contributed the song “Young and Beautiful” to the film adaptation of the book that made us all notice those green lights at the end of the dock.