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How To Make A Sadcore Hit: A Lana Del Rey Recipe

Friday, 09 August 2019 Written by Helen Payne

Lana Del Rey really has nailed her hazy, retro vibe and a nostalgic sense of sadness. Far from the usual feel-good factor of pop hits, the New York vocalist and songwriter has carved a niche for herself in the shimmery, summery genre of luxurious, melancholic songs that we like to call sadcore.

Her new album, ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’, is due for release on August 30, a perfect date to tie in with the sorrow that comes with the end of those warm summer nights. But, never fear, she’ll support the record with tour dates across the UK and Europe in 2020, so there’s something to look forward to. 

The word on the street is the new record’s expected to follow the path she’s carefully paved for herself over the years. So, how exactly did she do it? We’ve got the perfect recipe for you. Preheat your oven, pop on your apron and get ready to cook, we’re about to make a sadcore hit.

Dollop Of Heartbreak

Thematically speaking, the most important ingredient for a sadcore recipe has to be something pretty darn miserable. In this singer’s case, that’s often heartbreak.  Since Blue Jeans from her major label debut, 2012’s gleefully titled ‘Born To Die’, Del Rey has been pining after the one that got away. “I will love you ‘til the end of time,” she sings. “I would wait a million years.” Later on Without You, she asks, “Can you picture it babe, the life we could've lived?,” before confessing, “I'm nothing without you.” Ouch.

Glug Of Lamenting Melodies

You’ve got to have a certain type of doleful tone to go with those downcast lyrics, right? Even on Honeymoon, a title indicating a presumably happy occasion, Del Rey uses minor keys and a combination of sombre harmonies along with a despondent string section to create something perfect for hiding away in your bedroom, shoving on your headphones and having a big ol’ cry.

Scoop Of Reverb

Video Games is possibly one of the vocalist’s most iconic tracks, and it’s all about the subtle use of reverb on the keys and strings that resonate throughout. One of the draws of sadcore is the guilt-free wallowing in your melancholy, and by sustaining these gloomy tones, the producers have further given you permission to bask in your hopelessness.  Despite this huge echo of sound filling all the available space in the mix, Del Rey still manages to make it feel intimate, and lets the listener into a shared space of approval. It’s okay to be a bit down in the dumps every once in a while. You’ll be alright in the end.

Place In The Slow Cooker

Because no sadcore song should be fast, Lana Del Rey uses some incredibly slow pacing to further dwell in her disconsolation. A master of anticipation, the particularly low bpm allow a wider space to focus on the lyrics and instrumentation. If you’re in a good mood or having a particularly good day, it’s probably best not to play God Knows I Tried, White Mustang or Heroin through the aux. 

Leave To Cool Before Serving

Discussing her new record with Beats 1’s Zane Lowe, Del Rey revealed that when working with producer Jack Antonoff of Bleachers she was “in a little bit of a lighter mood because he was so funny.” Is it possible the superstar of sadness, known for her steely intensity, has cooled off a tad? A little less dramatic than her bleak debut, could it be that her last release, ‘Lust For Life’, saw her looking on the bright side in a world that’s constantly losing hope? The artwork even showcased a never-before-seen exclusive: a smile. 

So, the title of the new record, featuring an emphatic exclamation mark, might be a continuation of this thawing out. But then again, my money’s on the more likely scenario that it’s an ironic poke. ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’ The new album’s title spits out the name of the mid-1900s artist and illustrator, whose work tended towards the idealistic and sentimental portrayals of American life. Perfect, quintessential relationships? Get real. This is Lana Del Rey we’re talking about.

So there you have it: you’ve made your first sadcore hit. Don’t forget your box of tissues at the live shows, you’re gonna need ‘em. But delete your ex’s phone number before you go, just in case.

Lana Del Rey Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Tue February 25 2020 - LONDON O2 Arena
Wed February 26 2020 - MANCHESTER Arena
Fri February 28 2020 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Sat February 29 2020 - BIRMINGHAM Resorts World Arena

Click here to compare & buy Lana Del Rey Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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