Lana Del Rey looks like a gangster Lauren Bacall, is fond of quoting JFK and Errol Flynn, finds musical inspiration in the bright lights of Monte Carlo, and sings with enough grace and longing—a style she calls Hollywood Sadcore—to break your heart after just one verse. Six months ago, few knew her name. But since posting the promo clip in July for “Video Games,” her languorous and thrillingly cinematic ballad (also the first single off her new album, due out next month), the 25-year-old from Lake Placid, New York, has rocketed to indie fame. However, it is Del Rey’s attention-grabbing videos that truly encapsulate her self-described Lolita-got-lost-in-the-hood appeal. Edited by Del Rey using iMovie, they feature spliced clips from old films and cartoons and images of fast cars interspersed with her own seductive webcam shots, in which she’s dolled-up like a street-savvy femme fatale with bombshell hair and bling jewelry. (“I lived in the Bronx for three years,” she explains. “We liked lots of gold, and we liked it big.”) For some—namely, a few malcontent music bloggers who have taken issue with both the size of her fantastic pout and the fact that she changed her name from the far less exotic Lizzy Grant—her image is just too cool to be real. “I don’t understand it. Controversy is the last thing I expected from this project,” she says over the phone, with a long-lash wink—or so one would imagine, coming from a girl who playfully sings about hitting boys in the back of the head with a gun.
Watch the video for “Born to Die” below:
Digital Technician: Claire Fulton; Photography assistants: Jordan Grant, Katrina More-Molyneux. Special thanks to the Kensington Hotel, London