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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UWindsor chapter.

Upon the release of Video Games on YouTube on May 5th, 2011, the world discovered 1960s/1970s americana devotee, Lana Del Rey. Naming herself after old Hollywood starlet Lana Turner and Marina Del Rey, Lana became the symbol of the Tumblr girl era, and now she exemplifies the coquette aesthetic on TikTok. Being in the 1% of her listener base on Spotify, I find myself qualified enough to give a definitive ranking of her albums.

1. Norman f*****g Rockwell!

Being the first Lana album I ever heard, and being the one that got me through quarantine, Norman F******g Rockwell! will forever hold a special place in my heart. Featuring Lana’s best lyricism (the opening line being Goddamn manchild, you f****d me so good I almost said “I love you” is so iconic), it became Lana’s first critically acclaimed album. The throughline that ties this album together is hope, a level of optimism unheard of from Lana. This album also represents the shift from the impersonal to the personal (especially in “hope is a dangerous thing”). Taking inspiration from the southern California summers and Sylvia Plath’s poetry and including a cover from reggae band Sublime (Doin’ Time),this album is unlike any other. My favourites from this masterpiece are “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have but I have it”, “Cinnamon Girl”, “Venice Bitch”, and “Mariners Apartment Complex”.  

2. Did you know that there’s a tunnel under ocean blvd

Combining Ultraviolence’s moodiness, NFR’s lyricism, Blue Banister’s intimacy, and Born to Die’s production, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel under Ocean Blvd combines the best of all of Lana’s albums. Featuring two interludes and 14 songs, this lengthy album is perfection from start to finish. From the gospel-esque intro of “The Grants” to the throwback to “Venice Bitch”in “Taco Truck x VB”, this album demonstrates a high level of creativity, pivoting from the piano ballads of “Blue Banisters” and “Chemtrails Over the Country Club”. Whereas Lana’s previous collabs lacked chemistry, “Peppers” with Tommy Genesis and “Let The Light In” with Father John Misty allow both artists to shine. For all these reasons alone, as well the incredible lyricism in songs like “Fingertips” and “A&W”, Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd is tied with Norman Fucking Rockwell as my favourite Lana Del Rey album. My personal favourites from this record are “Paris, Texas”, “A&W”, “Candy Necklace” and “Taco Truck x VB”.  

3. Born To Die

Lana’s debut album will forever be a classic. Released in 2012, it became the anthem of teenage girls everywhere. It forever changed the landscape of pop music, and Lana’s melancholic and orchestral sound drawing on themes of old americana and classic literature paved the way for other sad girl artists such as Ethel Cain, Marina, and Billie Eilish. Her almost cinematic storytelling is the perfect background for daydreaming while scrolling Pinterest or Tumblr. Between her homemade music videos and elusive persona, Lana cemented her position as one of the main pop girlies whether critics liked it or not. My personal favourites from this album include “Video Games”, “Born to Die”, and “Carmen”. 

4. Ultraviolence

Being the fan favourite, Ultraviolence, has no shortage of hits. Hugely inspired by rock music and 1960s pop culture, songs on the album like “Ultraviolence” and “West Coast” perfectly demonstrate Lana’s ability to craft an aesthetic. This album truly shows Lana’s songs’ emotional range, going from rage in “Cruel World”, to melancholia in “Old Money” even to flirtatious as in “Florida Kilos”. Considering its range in mood and perfectly catchy instrumentals, this is the perfect album to listen to while driving down the coast. My personal favorites are “Brooklyn Baby”, “Black Beauty”, and “Flipside.  

5. Blue Banisters

Lana’s quarantine album, Blue Banisters, has a homier and more personal vibe than her previous albums. Here, Lana sheds her persona which was nostalgic for old Hollywood in favour of focusing on family and self-love. Making references to the Covid-19 pandemic and to the general instability of life in 2020, this album is significantly more relatable to her listeners than her previous albums. Songs like “Black Bathing Suit”, for example, where Lana learns how to love herself no matter the shape of her body or how others view her and where she finds love and stability show how she’s matured over the course of her career. While this album contains its fair share of piano ballads, it also contains some of Lana’s best vocal performances, such as in “Dealer” and “Living Legend. What truly separates Blue Banisters from the rest of Lana’s catalogue is the album’s focus on family and motherhood, with romantic love taking a backseat. My personal favorites from this album are “Thunder”, “Dealer”, and “Living Legend”.  

6. Honeymoon

Perfect for a lazy day on the beach, Honeymoon is Lana’s slowest paced album, with most of the record feeling like a fever dream. Often characterized as her most sophisticated album (the interlude being the first quartet of “Burnt Norton” by T.S Elliott), Lana drew inspiration from jazz, even featuring a cover of Billie Holliday’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. Unlike her previous albums, Honeymoon seems to follow a storyline–that of a tortured romance, with her male counterpart perhaps having mob ties, which again harkens to the album’s jazz roots. My personal favourite tracks from this dreamy record are “Terrence Loves You”, “The Blackest Day”, and “Honeymoon”. 

7. Chemtrails over the country club

Released the same year as Blue Banisters, Chemtrails Over the Country Club flew somewhat under the radar, for reasons that have nothing to do with the album itself but instead due to a pandemic that had swept the world only a few months prior. Often considered the grand finale of the character of Lana Del Rey, this album explores Lana’s disillusionment with Hollywood (especially in “Dark but Just a Game”) and draws inspiration from the midwestern and southern states rather than California and New York. Collaborations with independent and country artists such as Weyes Blood and Nikki Lane, as well as featuring a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “For Free” give the album a folkier feel. It’s perfect for an autumn road trip through national parks. My personal favorites from this record are “Yosemite”, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club”, and “Tulsa Jesus Freak”. 

8. Paradise

Paradise is the sequel to Born to Die, often considered Lana’s forgotten era, despite it being the era featuring one of her most iconic songs and music videos, “Ride”. Paradise is like Born to Die’s older, darker, and sexier sister. Inspired by John Milton’s book Paradise Lost and 1970s B-movies, Lana created the short film Tropico, featuring the trio of songs “Body Electric”, “Gods & Monsters”, and “Bel Air”. Here, Lana plays on Freud’s concept of the Madonna-Whore complex, portraying herself as both the Virgin Mary and a stripper. While this album contains some of Lana’s most iconic songs, it also contains some of her more forgettable songs (“American”, “Blue Velvet”, and “Burning Desire”). My personal favorites are “Ride”, “Gods & Monsters”, and “Yayo”. 

9. Lust for Life

Just because Lust for Life was ranked last doesn’t mean that it is a bad album. On the contrary, it’s a great album. However, it is one of Lana’s most controversial albums among fans as not everyone could connect to the more radio-friendly sound, features, or even some of the more “political” songs of the album. Personally, I find that this album aged the worst of all her albums, feeling very stuck in 2017 (“Coachella-Woodstock in my Mind”, I’m looking at you). However, beyond the cringey and out-of-touch political songs, Lust for Life also features some gems. Songs like “Love”, “Summer Bummer”, “Groupie Love, and the title track live up to the title of the album, showing a love for life that didn’t seem to exist in her previous albums. Also, some of Lana’s moodier tracks on this album, paired with reverb and a dreamy production, also deserve praise. My personal favorites from this album are “Heroin”, “13 Beaches”, and “Tomorrow Never Came”.

After reading this, I hope this inspires you to discover (or rediscover) Lana Del Rey’s discography or even to listen to songs that you have never heard of. There’s an album for every mood, every season and every person. 

Lara Najem

UWindsor '27

Lara Najem is a writer at the University of Windsor's chapter of Her Campus. Her articles mainly focus on media and culture. Lara is in her 1st year at the University of Windsor, pursuing a major in Behaviour, Cognition and Neuroscience with a minor in French. With a strong interest in mental health and the brain, she hopes to pursue a career in clinical psychology. Alongside being a member of HerCampus, Lara is a member of the BCNSA (the association of neuroscience students) and the Women in Science Club. Outside of school, Lara is an avid reader, lover of music and video essay enjoyer.