Here are all of the Lana Del Rey iterations we’ve seen, each opening up to reveal another look: Norman-was AOR Lana in ultraviolence-was a nihilist Lana in chemtrails-was folk Lana in, after the tense and amazing change of the song, the spoiled, half-rapper and trap-loving Lanas of Born to Die, Honeymoon, and lust for life. The title “A&W” refers to both the roadside restaurant chain and the acronym for “American Whore,” the original title, according to producer Jack Antonoff. In the song, Lana distorts the name of a Marielle Heller movie, refers to a three-star hotel and forensic filesand interpolates a doo-wop standard you might know from the Tom Hanks movie Big. A man named Jimmy appears, perhaps the same mythical Jim who has appeared throughout his discography, as do tape-filtered cut strings that sound like they’re from “Norman Fucking Rockwell.” If a single song could act as a source of shock in Lana’s signifiers, this would be it.
And yet, as a whole, “A&W” is unlike anything I’ve ever done. It’s a collagistic, psychedelic frenzy that ranges from the exasperated, “I’m a princess, I’m divisive/Ask me why I’m like this/Maybe I just like this,” all the way to the delirious release of accepting your outcast status from all the world. life. In the end, he teases the object of her affection with a wry, sly smile: “Your mama called, I told her you’re fucking her up big / But I don’t care baby, I already lost my mind.” Lana has always operated with a kind of creative abandon seemingly at odds with conventional wisdom, but “A&W” might be the ultimate expression of that savagery, a chimerical, haunted folk-trap ballad welded together with nothing more than the heat of her own power. of star. .