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Does Lana Del Rey’s New Song Glorify Domestic Violence?

2 minute read

With a title like Ultraviolence, you’d expect the upcoming Lana Del Rey album’s cover to feature the singer brandishing machines guns or dodging explosions or clutching a knife or something besides just posing by a car. But as the just-premiered title track makes clear, Ultraviolence isn’t about the heart-pumping action you find in summer blockbusters. It’s about the tortured, emotional violence of troublesome relationships — and apparently some physical violence, too.

The track is more of what fans have come to expect and enjoy from Del Rey over the years — sweeping, cinematic strings anchored by gloomy piano chords — and her lyrics once again traffic in the baddest of bad boys and nostalgia for decades past. The “Video Games” singer quotes the Crystals’ controversial 1962 song “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss),” drops lines like “he hurt me, but it felt like true love” and begs for “that ultraviolence” amid the call of sirens. That’s a pretty straightforward glorification of domestic violence, but it’s probably worth noting that Lana Del Rey, the artist born Elizabeth Grant, is different from Lana Del Rey, the flawed character who narrates screwed-up tales of vice and luxury that the real-life LDR likely wouldn’t endorse.

Still, as Lorde pointed out last fall, not everyone will recognize or appreciate that distinction. “I listened to that Lana Del Rey record and the whole time I was just thinking it’s so unhealthy for young girls to be listening to, you know, ‘I’m nothing without you,'” she said in an interview with The FADER. “This sort of shirt-tugging, desperate, don’t leave me stuff. That’s not a good thing for young girls, even young people, to hear.”

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Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com