Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.
This week’s video: “White Mustang” by Lana Del Rey
Lizzie: In writing this column, I’ve started to feel that every week the same music videos come out. Radiohead releases something morose, but like, sensitive, a pop star in a suit dances around a half-animated world, and Blake Shelton performs at yet another wedding. It’s like being trapped inside the fever dream of a super-wealthy but not particularly creative music exec at a major label.
Luckily, this week there was also a Lana Del Rey video.
Kaitlyn: How were we supposed to pick a different video? You see how in this one it is both the future and the past? There are both weird, Jetson-inspired homes and creepy, possibly haunted cars from 50 years ago? The Verge is about the future and The Verge is sometimes about cars. The Verge is not about the past, but that doesn’t mean we’re idiots. You see?
We love “White Mustang,” out of obligation.
Who is Lana Del Rey?
Lizzie: Lana Del Rey is the persona of a musician who has already had several past lives. She used to perform under the name Sparkle Jump Rope Queen and her birth name.
In 2011, her track “Video Games” went viral after it was uploaded to YouTube, earning Lana a performance slot on Saturday Night Live before her second LP as Lana Del Rey, Born To Die was even released. Her first LP, Lana Del Ray, was pulled from retailers three months after it was released digitally; it never saw a physical release. (In 2012, Lana said she bought back the rights to the album with plans to re-release it, but that hasn’t happened yet. It has, however, been uploaded to a Bjork fan channel on YouTube).
Kaitlyn: Lana Del Rey’s birth name is Lizzy Grant — kind of like “Lizzie Plaugic,” but a little different. She’s known for being a bit of a cipher, but actions speak louder than words. Here are some actions she describes herself doing on her most recent album, Lust for Life: Running on a treadmill while smoking, throwing out a lot of moldy fruit, being affectionate towards a friend at Coachella, climbing into the Hollywood sign presumably without permission, pouring a drink for a boy who plays guitar, walking through fire, experiencing a sugar rush, mixing sangria, getting a face tattoo, flying to the moon. She doesn’t have a face tattoo. The rest sounds plausible, but who knows? That’s the point! It’s not even any of my business if Lana Del Rey has been to the moon or not, but she does love space travel and Elon Musk.
What’s special about “White Mustang” by Lana Del Rey:
Lizzie: Aesthetically, this video reminds me of Lana’s 2015 video for “High by the Beach.” Both prominently feature massive balconies obscured only by delicate curtains stretching in the breeze. Both feature a twist ending: in “High by the Beach,” Lana murders a spy in a helicopter with a grenade launcher; in “White Mustang,” a rocket takes off from city streets and you assume Lana had something to do with it.
“White Mustang” also has that classic small-town-broke-but-beautiful-lounge-singer vibe of early Lana. Her leather-jacketed scientist boyfriend in “White Mustang” could easily be the same dude as the biker from “Ride.” It’s all in the same universe.
Kaitlyn: Well, part of what’s special about “White Mustang” is the dreamy retro-futurist vision of Los Angeles, which looks like it was hand-drawn for a children’s book I would like to own.
More than that, what’s special about this video is that it shows Lana “back on her bullshit,” hanging out with a boy who doesn’t seem very nice and explaining that yes, that is the case, but “summer’s meant for loving and leaving,” so it’s fine. Lana gets a lot of crap about the way she presents romantic relationships in her music, and even more about the way she presents herself, but in a recent Pitchfork interview she said “I’m proud of the way I’ve put parts of my story into songs in ways that only I understand. In terms of my gauge of what’s good, it’s really just what I think. I have an internal framework that is the only thing I measure it by. My own opinion is really important to me. It starts and stops there.” These five sentences should be part of the basic curriculum in elementary schools.
How long everyone should watch “White Mustang” by Lana Del Rey:
Lizzie: It seems like the rocket taking off is essential viewing, so if you’re not gonna stick around for the end, why did you even start?
Kaitlyn: You should definitely watch until the rocket takes off, which is from 3:22 to 3:38. After that point I find the plot of the video pretty hard to follow. Fortunately it is now the weekend, which means I am under no obligation to dwell on information that is challenging for me to process. Goodbye!