Lana Del Rey’s Latest Music Video Has More Artistic Merit Than You Think

Lana Del Rey’s latest music video is a bit of a trip, which isn’t to say that I’m not completely obsessed with it. In a world where five second cuts rule the realm of music video editing and we just can’t seem to get enough of big asses in small shorts, “High By The Beach” requires a double, in fact, triple, take to really sink your teeth into. And would we expect anything less of Lana? Of course not.

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The video opens with a tedious shot that spans the the ocean, arriving at what looks like a beachside mansion somewhere along the Pacific Coast Highway, where you immediately see Lana walk out onto the balcony through sheer billowing curtains. Lady knows how to make an entrance. The first cut of the video? To an ominous black helicopter that suddenly seems 100 percent responsible for those flowing curtains. And immediately the story changes. This isn’t going to be a video about a celebrity in her beach house… oh no, this is going to be a cat and mouse ordeal.

We even become privy to a few seconds of footage from the helicopter’s P.O.V. right off the bat. Now before you go rolling your eyes at yet another paparazzi-hating music video, I beg you to give this one a shot, because no matter where you fall on the spectrum of support for the celebrity lifestyle, this video has some artistic merit to it that cannot be denied.

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As Lana heads back into her bedroom, the camera catches a reflection of the always stalking helicopter in the glass door. If there’s one clear villain in this music video, that brief moment establishes it. The video continues with the first verse of chorus (“All I want to do is get high by the beach, get high by the beach, get high. All I want to do is get by by the beach, get by by the beach, baby, baby, get by.”) paired with our sultry singer falling onto the bed with repeated cuts (which I’m basically reading as Lana “getting high”) and a shaky, handheld camera, reminiscent of a home video.

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The voyeuristic tone of this video continues with a long, uncut shot of our heroine running down the stairs of her home, turning the corner long ahead of the camera (imitating a chase scene that you’d see in a low-budget thriller), and then finally catching up with her around the bend, where she’s leaning on the counter flipping her way through a tabloid magazine. Does she have to spell it out for you anymore? Well if so, then stay tuned, because in the next thirty seconds she walks up to an open window where you can get a great view of the helicopter with a paparazzi man sitting in it with a giant camera pointed at Lana’s window. Also, can I just point out that all of this takes place in one, constant, unedited shot. Impressive, to say the last. Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 2.24.57 PM

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And now’s when things start to get real good, if shooting rocket launchers at paparazzi helicopters is your idea of a good time. We’re graced with another long shot of Lana running down the stairs of her beach house, out onto the beach where she picks up a mysteriously placed guitar case. We catch a break from the song at this point, where everything stops except the crashing of the waves as the camera pans up to the always-there helicopter hovering about the tormented celebrity. As Lana makes her way back into her home and onto her balcony, the song continues, Lana pulls a gun from her guitar case, and well, the rest is history.

So what really can be said about this video? Is it the current day “Lucky” (remember that Britney Spears classic? Maybe? If you haven’t tried too hard to forget it…)? I kind of want to say yes… but with about four thousand more tons of artistic merit. The camerawork is calculated, the storyline is simple (which is not a bad thing in the slightest), and the message clear. You guys, all Lana wants to do is get high by the beach… just leave her alone.

1 Comment

  1. E.R

    I agree completely. I didn’t even like the video (probably because I ‘read’ the song differently than the video presents it, so my expectations ruined the experience), but the creative choices in this piece are fantastic and innovative.

    I especially liked the cuts of her while lying on the bed and the (obviously unscripted) part wherein her garb gets caught on the railing. It contributed to the drama of the “chase” in such a natural way. I wonder what the author of this piece made of that.

    Great article.


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