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The 50 Best Lana Del Rey Songs

The finest moments so far from the reigning queen of summertime sadness

The 50 Best Lana Del Rey Songs

Lana Del Rey


LANA DEL REY officially debuted in 2011 with her instant-classic single “Video Games,” and followed that with her groundbreaking 2012 album, Born to Die. Del Rey’s “gangster Nancy Sinatra” artistic approach was striking, and her music set her apart even further, a mix of torch ballads, trip-hop, and classic Sixties pop that stood in stark contrast to the glossy dance pop of the early 2010s. Over the course of her career so far, she’s developed into a bona fide musical visionary, packing her increasingly ambitious albums with brilliant songs that are steeped in her unique vision of Americana while exploring dark, obscure aspects of relationships most singers don’t have the courage to even go near.

To her ultra-devoted fans, she is the patron saint of the misunderstood. But along with forging a deep personal connection with her core audience, Del Rey’s baroque, retro-pop style, intense intimacy, and unapologetically honest lyrics have changed the sound of pop music in the past decade.

To honor the release of the singer’s ninth studio album, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, we’ve ranked her 50 best songs, from modern standards to deep cuts to an unreleased gem we can’t get out of our heads.

Hear this playlist on Spotify.

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‘The Greatest’

“The Greatest” is the climax of Norman Fucking Rockwell!, a brilliant bicoastal reflection of pop culture in the same vein as Bob Dylan’s “Murder Most Foul,” Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and even Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Only for Del Rey, the music never died. She’s just thinking about L.A. and New York, missing “doing nothing” most of all. She conveys her lament over sweeping melodies and riffs on Dennis Wilson, “Life on Mars,” and Kanye West. Every line is quotable, particularly when she describes the culture as “lit” — the only time in history anyone has ever sounded cool using that word. —A.M.


‘Video Games’

The song that started it all: Lana Del Rey’s debut single under her new name created a whole aesthetic movement, changed the goal posts for pop music, and most importantly, turned the singer into a mysterious, viral phenomenon. Released in 2011, “Video Games” was a stark contrast to the EDM pop of her contemporaries; the “gangsta Nancy Sinatra,” as she described herself then, was a moody, sparse palate cleanser. Previewing the crux of Del Rey’s unique songwriting talent, “Video Games” has a vintage sound (layers of strings, harps, and haunting synths create a romanticized funeral march) paired with engagingly contemporary lyrical references. On this track, Del Rey is a girl seeming to already pine for the mundane aspects of a relationship, like watching him drink beer and play video games. Complementing the lush yet somber track was a video Del Rey made herself that carried the song to the top: She sings into a webcam between spliced shots of skateboarders, Hollywood, and paparazzi footage of a drunk Paz de la Huerta. —B.S.