By Jacob Billings, Don Noble, and Mandy Bekhbat
Edited by: Amielle Moreno
Music is the fruit of love. Music plays our heartstrings to soothe the savage beast within us all. Striking such deep chords appears to be a two-fold process where pressure waves acting on the cochlea are routed through the auditory cortex to process its tonal qualities, other areas of the temporal lobe to interpret the linguistic features, and finally onto the frontal lobe to identify its larger meaning [1, 2, 3].
From her earliest to most recent works, Lana Del Rey’s music works on these dual levels, harmonic and lyrical, stirring her audience into a passion. That sultry, seductive voice claws from her throat like fingernails on flesh. And if you can bend your mind away from being mesmerized, her lyrics will pump away at your imagination with promises of non-committal fornication. For this and more her audience of millions just loves this woman!
On May 2nd our loyal reporters Astrocyte and Microglium went to Del Rey’s concert at the Tabernacle. With a much-anticipated new album, Ultraviolence, soon to be released, Del Rey’s tickets were in high demand and sold out within minutes. Her set-list included several well-known songs such as Born to Die, Video Games, and Summertime Sadness, as well as lesser-known but interesting choices including Cola, Gods and Monsters, and Body Electric. “Tell me I’m your national anthem,” sang Del Rey, whose intent on conquering hippie souls across the nation, and being iconized as the Marilyn Monroe of our generation, was obvious throughout. The audience, ninety percent composed of 15-18 year old girls, responded by wearing flowers in their hair, as if on cue.
Since her Atlanta show, Lana has drawn inspiration from Ultraviolence, a more subdued record highlighted by alternatingly chaotic and serene tunes such as Cruel World, Brooklyn Baby, West Coast, and Shades of Cool. With an expanded repertoire of promising work, it will be interesting to see how Lana’s live performances evolve, and what direction her career takes.
Sex and the psyche: a philosophical exploration of Lana’s lyrical complexities
Sex in music is nothing new. In fact its centrality, arguably, springs from the fact that it is the source from which we all derive our very lives. But the kinds of sex that Del Rey intones—hot, casual fornication with the stranger, or pining for the season’s chosen love–depict rather unique forms of sex. An evolutionary sociological view of non-committal sex would consider it too costly for women to engage in . Less than an hour’s worth of pleasure is just not worth the possibility of a single female facing several months of pregnancy, and approximately 16 years of undivided attention, unless there is an adequate support network to share those responsibilities. However, this assessment speaks to older generations. The American youth of the 60s and beyond recognize that sex is enjoyable, and that there are many ways to manage sex’s responsibilities.
Most of the people who enjoy Lana Del Rey’s music have accepted three facts of life: 1) sex offers an inherently hedonistic value, 2) prophylactics are an adequate means of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and 3) the outside possibility of single-motherhood can be managed. The advent of “the pill” was touted by its creators, Margaret Sanger and Katherine McCormick, as a precondition to the emancipation of women . In an era of the “happy homemaker,” the advent of the pill enabled women to decide the course of their lives rather than need to appease the first man who knocked her up for fear of him abandoning his family. Prophylactics provide women with the ability to choose which sexual encounter can lead to a pregnancy, if any. If this safeguard happens to fail, less sexism in the workplace lays the groundwork for women to effectively provide for their children even if the father is only a brief and/or vague memory. Without both of these freedoms, sex without commitment is an unwise risk for the uncommitted women.
With these three pillars—the recognized pleasure of sex, the pill, and a narrowing pay gap—free love can stand on its own. We would like to point out that there is yet a fourth pillar that provides an additional incentive for women to engage in promiscuous sex: the possibility of producing a child from one or more exceedingly fit mates. Adopting sexual freedom immediately increases the range of mates that a person can possibly produce offspring from. She who gives birth to children may judiciously decide to have intercourse during her fertile period with a man who, though met for a short period of time, has the kind of genes that she would like to weave into their child. The man may be he who “sews his wild oats,” but the woman is the shrewd agriculturalist, i.e., the “selective oat breeder.”
There are many incentives for women to be promiscuous provided that there are adequate safeguards in place to mitigate the sizable risks of casual sex. This musician who can mesmerize us with her melodic tales of playing the field is only speaking to the facts of the day. The artistic goods she produces, and the lifestyle she exposes gains an edge over previous battlements in this social and biological arms race. So go on with your bad self, Lana Del Rey. Rock that body electric!