As a soloist, Elizabeth Woolridge Grant a.k.a. Lana Del Rey, born in June 1985 started her career as a singer. She earned her living as a waitress and lived with her uncle on Long Island. He taught her how to play the guitar and she started writing songs. She performed for friends and acquaintances in underground nightclubs under pseudonyms like “Sparkle Jump Rope Queen” or “Lizzy Grant and the Phenomena.” At the age of 19 she concentrated on her studies; philosophy with a focus on metaphysics was in her interest. Due to her parents’ alcohol problem, she went through one or the other philosophical crisis early on, and her studies then built something like a bridge between God and science for her, she said in an interview. Van Wilson, boss of the indie label Five Points, took notice of her during a songwriting contest and signed her. The album Lizzy Grant, recorded with producer David Kahne, was not released for the time being because of the label’s lack of money. So she finished her studies and started doing community work. She took care of homeless people and drug addicts and helped an Indian reservation to paint houses. After the label finally released her album, Del Rey met Ben Mawson and Ed Millett, her new managers. They helped her get out of the contract and bought the songs from the label. She moved to Millett’s home in London shortly after, where she appeared as a feature act on Mando Diao’s MTV Unplugged in 2010. That same year, she was also cast as an actress in the film Poolside.
Shortly after the album’s redemption, Lana Del Rey released her first song Video Games with a homemade dreamy video featuring the mid-twenty lady among retro clips. Within a month, the video was viewed 1 million times and reached first chart positions. Her labels Polydor and Interscope took her to the top of pop music before her first album Born to Die hit stores in 2012. It was haunting yet sweet, dark yet sunny, and caught many mid-twenties and teens off-guard with its old-Hollywood aesthetic. Their third album, 2013’s Ultraviolence, produced by Dan Auerbach, placed more emphasis on guitar-driven instrumentation and landed at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200. Their fourth and fifth albums, Honeymoon (2015) and Lust for Life (2017), were a return to the stylistic traditions of their earlier releases, while their critically acclaimed sixth album, Norman Fucking Rockwell! (2019), explored soft rock. Their next studio albums, Chemtrails over the Country Club and Blue Banisters, followed in 2021.
With her charismatic manner, the controversial torch-pop singer made her mark on the music world and provided many teens with an outlet for their sad feelings. She achieved what could be achieved: Chart placements, awards, sold-out concerts around the globe and much more. At the end of September 2012, a music video for Del Rey’s cover version of Blue Velvet was released as an advertising song for H&M’s fall 2012 campaign, for which Del Rey also modeled in print ads. She has also collaborated on soundtracks; in 2013 she wrote on the critically acclaimed musical short Tropico and released Young and Beautiful for the romantic drama The Great Gatsby. Del Rey collaborated with Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus on the song Don’t Call Me Angel for the action comedy Charlie’s Angels (2019), which reached No. 13 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. But she wasn’t all about commercial pop; she also released the poetry and photography book Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass (2020) in which she reads fourteen selected poems accompanied by Jack Antonoff’s smooth sounds. Lana Del Rey’s iconic vintage sound is best enjoyed on vinyl. There are now many limited editions of her classics in a heart-shaped vinyl, as well as unreleased material such as Lana Del Rey Unreleased, a collection of unreleased songs as a colored vinyl edition. Likewise, her first album, which can now be found under the name Lana Del Ray a.k.a. Lizzy Grant.