Since the release of her seductively sad debut single Video Games in 2011, Lana Del Rey’s pen game has helped us fans feel more chic about our messy little problems. Her ninth album, Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, is imminent, and the album’s second single A&W is already widely recognised as a stone-cold classic, in part thanks to its dark, outlandish and intensely beautiful lyrics.
Over the years, Del Rey’s words have been dissected, questioned and – inevitably – tattooed. Back in 2016, I got ‘Ultraviolence’ inked on my rib. The 2014 album – and its title track, in particular – hit me in ways no other piece of music had since Gaga’s Born This Way. Why? Ultraviolence was more melancholic than its predecessor, her debut album Born to Die. The moody vibe allowed me to acknowledge that I wasn’t being honest with myself regarding my ongoing struggle with anxiety, which was in part caused by boys (and all the heartache and confusion that comes with them) and, you know, just generally navigating adulthood in a scary world.
Noelle Mitchell, 23, from Oregon, is a fellow LDR stan with lyrics permanently etched on her body. Mitchell believes it’s Del Ray’s ability to be open on topics such as abusive relationships, family issues and the heavy emotions that come with any type of love that make her lyrics legendary. After “A&W truly released the feral” in her, Mitchell recently decided to get ‘Born to Die’ on the inside of her arm and ‘Paradise’ – the title of Del Rey’s 2012 EP – on her hand.
“I got my [Born to Die] tattoo because of the profound impact that album [and song] had on me personally as well as culturally,” she says via email. “Lana turns her real life-experiences that haven’t always been positive or pretty into beautiful poetry, being raw and vulnerable without cliché.”
Sadly, I’m yet to come across a Lana Del Rey fan bold enough to get the legendary opening line to Paradise highlight Cola (“My pussy tastes like Pepsi cola”) inked. However, Melissa Rae, a 25-year-old fan from Nashville, had the phrase ‘Life Imitates Art’ tattooed on her inner arm – inspired by a lyric in Paradise track Gods & Monsters (“When you talk it’s like a movie, and it’s making me crazy /‘cause life imitates art”). “I really liked how she described how it felt to be inspired by something and it feeling like you’re truly living in that moment,” Rae says. “I got those lyrics because they stood out to me the most. I take inspiration from every film or song I watch [and listen to] so I took the lyrics quite literally.”
On her 2017 album Lust for Life, Del Rey’s world felt a little less insular, as she used her voice to shine some light during the dark days of Trump’s presidency. “On the last records I needed to look inward to figure out why things had gone so far down one path,” LDR told Complex whilst promoting the album. “Then I kind of came to the end of my self-examination and I naturally was looking at everything else.”
With lyrics such as “Cause we’re the masters of our own fate /we’re the captains of our own souls”, Lust for Life’s title track and second single came as a blessing for Spanish fan Nicolas Lazzarini. “Lust for Life impacted me strongly, especially as it helped me to move forward when I was dealing with severe depression,” says Lazzarini, who is 21. “When [Lust for Life] came out it pushed me to think about my future. [The lyrics] really helped me because I found this song with much hope and [felt] optimistic.”
With the new album imminent, it’s inevitable that more people will be booking appointments at their local tattoo parlour, joining the legion of stans who’ve felt compelled to have Lana Del Rey-isms such as ‘White hot forever’, ‘Kiss me hard before you go /summertime sadness’, ‘Blessed with beauty and rage’ and ‘Live fast, die young, be wild and have fun,’ permanently inked. Now, please, will someone step forward and get a tattoo of ‘My pussy tastes like Pepsi cola’?