June 12th, 2014 1:06pm

His Strange Weather

Lana Del Rey “Shades of Cool”

At least part of Lana Del Rey’s success is owed to the fact that she’s pretty much the only notable artist in pop music who is entirely devoted to performing melancholy ballads and torch songs. That style of pop has been out of fashion for so long that the irony in her music is necessary – the audience’s associations with this particular sort of melodrama and sentimentality are removed from historical context. The music has to be a commentary on its own genre because it’s such a self conscious and contrary thing to embrace, and the modern details in the lyrics should be slightly at odds with the tone of the music. She’s gone overboard with the winking in the past, but with her third album Ultraviolence, she’s found a way to dial down the irony and focus more clearly on the emotion in her songs.

“Shades of Cool” is particularly great because it takes on a very James Bond theme sort of grandeur while keeping the lyrics very direct. This is very plainly a song about a woman who is dealing with a severely emotionally unavailable man, and reckoning with the reality of the situation. She has no illusions about him – the most powerful moment of the song is the part of the chorus in which she sings the words “You’re unfixable” with this odd, trilling tone – but she’s still holding on to some hope that things will work out. It’s a simple and lovely sentiment, and entirely merits this melodramatic arrangement.

Buy it from Amazon.

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