Lana Del Rey: “Ultraviolence”

by Grant Tillery

Lana Del Rey’s music is hit and miss.  For every good song she (nay, her songwriters) churns out, she’ll drop four or five duds in its trail.  “Ultraviolence,” the title track for Del Rey’s upcoming album, is one of those.  Del Rey’s coquettishness can’t save “Ultraviolence” from its shaky foundation, and feels forced in this instance. 

The song begins as homage to bad Elton John, and the honky-tonk piano clashes with the trademark lush, hazy orchestration Del Rey relies on.  Del Rey attempts to channel Cat Power’s Chan Marshall for the rest of “Ultraviolence,” and fails miserably.  She lacks Marshall’s earnest faux-Parisian grit and decadence, and sounds as if she’s regurgitating lines thrown up on a screen in the studio.  “Ultraviolence” also swipes the title from the Crystals’ 1962 song “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss),” using it as a lyric in the refrain.  Though these disparate styles could be masterfully fused together, in Del Rey’s hands they miss their target on 2014’s most robotic song to date.