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Lana Del Rey, From the Upcoming Movie "Maleficent"
Lana Del Rey is one of the most transfixing pop artists to emerge in the past few years. Her music is lush, dark and intimate, and her voice exudes an air of mystery and immersion. "Once Upon a Dream," originally from Disney's classic Sleeping Beauty, is classic Lana, and is her fitting contribution to the upcoming Disney film, Maleficent. The film, starring Angelina Jolie, opens in theaters on May 30th. Get the track for free for a limited time, exclusively on Google Play.
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Lana Del Rey, From the Upcoming Movie "Maleficent"

Once Upon a Dream (from "Maleficent") (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Lana Del Rey
Lana's new single from the upcoming film.

Paradise

Lana Del Rey
Even after selling nearly three million copies of her debut album worldwide, Lana Del Rey still faced a challenge during 2012: namely, proving to critics and prospective fans that Born to Die wasn't a fluke. In that spirit, Del Ray released Paradise, a mini-album close to Christmas, that finds her in perfect control of her voice, much more assured than she was even one year ago, and frequently capable of astonishing her listeners with a very convincing act. As for the sound, it should be familiar to fans of Born to Die, with strings that move at a glacial pace, drums that crash like waves in slow motion, and additional textures (usually electric guitar or piano) that are cinematic in their sound and references. There's really only one difference between Born to Die and Paradise, but it's a big one. Instead of acting the submitting, softcore, '60s-era plaything, here she's more of a wasted, hardcore, post-millennial plaything. She even goes so far as to tell her audience that she likes it rough (in words that earn the parental advisory sticker), to ask whether she can put on a show, and at her most explicit, proffering a simile that compares the taste of an intimate part of her anatomy to Pepsi. The inclusion of a cover, "Blue Velvet," is not only a perfect match for her style, but also a hint that she can perform up to better material. Still, all of this is merely the material for her continuing popularity and attraction. She puts it better here than anyone else, with another simile: "Like a groupie incognito posing as a real singer, life imitates art."

John Bush, Rovi

Born To Die

Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey's debut Born To Die was confounding indie critics long before its release, simply by being unapologetically pop. Lead single "Video Games" set up an intriguing, troublesome character—a passive, objectified girlfriend with outsized romantic daydreams and facile notions of "old Hollywood" glamour and noir—but Del Rey's drawling delivery sold it. That song's persona, its sedative languor and sweeping strings inform much of Born to Die's ballads, but so do moody hip-hop beats and distorted background shouts that recall, among other things, Kanye West's "Runaway." Better still are the more sprightly and playfully knowing pop moments of "Off to the Races, "Diet Mountain Dew," "Radio" and "National Anthem," where Del Rey almost breaks into a rap cadence. Of course Lana Del Rey is a put-on, but it's not an unpromising act.

Eric Grandy, Google Play

Born To Die

Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey's debut Born To Die was confounding indie critics long before its release, simply by being unapologetically pop. Lead single "Video Games" set up an intriguing, troublesome character—a passive, objectified girlfriend with outsized romantic daydreams and facile notions of "old Hollywood" glamour and noir—but Del Rey's drawling delivery sold it. That song's persona, its sedative languor and sweeping strings inform much of Born to Die's ballads, but so do moody hip-hop beats and distorted background shouts that recall, among other things, Kanye West's "Runaway." Better still are the more sprightly and playfully knowing pop moments of "Off to the Races, "Diet Mountain Dew," "Radio" and "National Anthem," where Del Rey almost breaks into a rap cadence. Of course Lana Del Rey is a put-on, but it's not an unpromising act.

Eric Grandy, Google Play

Ride (Remixes)

Lana Del Rey

Burning Desire

Lana Del Rey

Young And Beautiful

Lana Del Rey

Blue Velvet

Lana Del Rey

Video Games

Lana Del Rey
Lana Dey Rey's breakout hit uses simple storytelling to create an instant classic pop symphony. Backed by harps and strings, Del Rey sets a vivid scene as she sings in a sultry, teary-eyed tone about everyday moments—like swinging in the backyard wearing the sundress her boyfriend loves as he opens a beer and plays video games. The chorus is both haunting—"Heaven is a place on earth where you tell me all the things you want to do"—and taunting: "I heard you like the bad girls, honey, is that true?" Throughout, Del Rey's retro glamour and spellbinding vocals push her ahead of the pack.

Laura Checkoway, Google Play