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The Monitor

The Student News Site of Marymount Manhattan College

The Monitor

The Student News Site of Marymount Manhattan College

The Monitor

How Lana Del Rey Reinvented the Nostalgic American Aesthetic

Reading Time: 3 minutes

On October 3rd I experienced one of the best nights of my life, and I met the one and only Lana Del Rey. My roommates and I bought tickets on a whim when she announced her tour, without thinking about how far away Pittsburgh really is from New York City: a 6-hour bus ride to be exact. It was the farthest North she would come, with her tour being focused solely on small Southern towns. 

We traveled across the entire state of Pennsylvania driving through mountains and watching the leaves changing colors as autumn approaches with every hour. We read novels and doodled in notebooks throughout our road trip. We checked into a small hotel in the middle of nowhere and then walked to the local shops, restaurants, and bars. 

This was my first real road trip in a while, and I felt nostalgic thinking of all of the trips I used to take with my family driving through states to get to our vacation spot. We were not alone in this long journey, many other young adults made the trip from large cities to her concert.

At the Starlake Pavilion in Burgettstown, PA right outside of Pittsburgh 22,000 fans gathered all dressed in red, white, and blue. There was a sense of community and everyone was so kind to one another taking pictures, complimenting outfits, and anticipating the show to come. 

Del Rey has always used American motifs in her lyrics, clothing, and music videos. In her song National Anthem featuring A$AP Rocky, she sings “I’m your national anthem, boy, put your hands up, Give me a standing ovation, Boy, you have landed, babe, in the land of, Sweetness and danger, Queen of Saigon”. 

The depiction of the American dream is one that many Generation Xers have fought to banish because of America’s horrid history with Colonization and Slavery. The idea of nationalism in The United States feels arbitrary with such a tainted history where the American Dream could never apply to everyone. 

When Lana Del Rey sings of the perfect America, she dreams of a land where things are truly equal and everyone can share in this life that is so exclusionary in real life. Her America is a heavenly dream state, focusing on the best memories she holds from cities throughout the country. She references American classics like the paintings of Norman Rockwell in her sixth studio album Norman Fucking Rockwell! and the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby in her song Young and Beautiful written for the 2013 movie adaptation. 

Starlake Pavilion was filled with young adults dressed in American flags, cowboy hats, and Budweiser t-shirts. Del Rey’s demographics are extremely diverse as people of all ages, races, and sexualities gathered to sing along to the lyrics of Ride: “I hear the birds on the summer breeze, I drive fast, I am alone at midnight, Been trying’ hard not to get into trouble, but I, I’ve got a war in my mind, So, I just ride”. 

Del Rey’s American aesthetic has succeeded in relating to everyone because it acknowledges the horrors of American history and the way that we all struggle in a country founded on greed and capitalism. Lana paints the perfect America, what could be if this country did change. This bliss is what younger generations hope America will become, where they can be proud to live in the true land of the free. 

Her performance was angelic. After the show, she made an appearance where the crowd of fans awaited their Ubers. We gathered around her for pictures, fighting to get to the front. She was so genuinely kind and endearing. 

Lana Del Rey traveled through the American South for her first tour since 2020. She visited Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Her tour surprised everyone, as most artists avoid small towns in order to book the largest venues in the biggest cities. When Lana spoke with fans after her show someone asked if she would go on tour again and she responded, “Yes I think we will, but not for a while and not anywhere up North”. With such a large fanbase in cities like New York, this was a surprising response. 

There is a method to Lana’s magic though. At her final show on Thursday, she stated that her proceeds would be donated back to the cities where she has performed. “I just wanted to say thank you to you and just every city I’ve gone to before this,” Del Rey said. “I also wanted to let you know, for what it’s worth, every ticket, every dollar, is poured right back into the city.” 

This act of kindness feels like her attempt at making her own America. She is directly contributing to the economies of towns throughout the Southern area while bringing younger diverse groups of people in. She sings in Looking for America, “I’m still looking for my own version of America, One without the gun, where the flag can freely fly, No bombs in the sky, only fireworks when you and I collide, It’s just a dream I had in mind”. 

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