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Carmen
Lana Del Rey
Writer(s) Lana Del Rey
Justin Parker
Producer(s) Emile Haynie
Alternate producer(s) Jeff Bhasker
Justin Parker
Released January 26, 2012
Length 4:08
(See official versions)
From Btdogo
Single(s) "Video Games"
"Born to Die"
"Blue Jeans"
"Summertime Sadness"
"National Anthem"
"Dark Paradise"
Promotional single(s) "Off to the Races"
"Carmen"
Born to Die track listing
"Million Dollar Man"

"Carmen" is a song written by Lana Del Rey and Justin Parker with production by Emile Haynie. Taken from Del Rey's first major-label album Born to Die, the song served as the album's second promotional single, following "Off to the Races". An a cappella demo of the song was leaked in early 2012.

Background and compositionEdit

"Carmen" was written with Justin Parker and produced by Emile Haynie with additional production by Jeff Bhasker and Parker. In an interview for The Sun, Del Rey revealed that the song was about "a doomed woman who sells her body on the streets" of Coney Island, which Del Rey viewed as an "important [place] to [her]" throughout her career in New York City.[1] Del Rey told Complex that the melody and the lyrics of "Carmen" "come together".[2]

Critical reception Edit

"Carmen" was acclaimed by most critics for its ability to tell a story and haunt with its intense lyrics of the downside to fame. Noted as a cautionary hint of any downside to such a debauched lifestyle that Del Rey portrays on her album, Andy Gill of The Independent describes the song as a metaphor used by Del Rey for her "synthetic life experience."[3] Alex Denney of NME described the song as "a winner" with Del Rey’s richly suggestive tones conjuring the ghosts of Lauren Bacall’s classic femme-fatales.[4] While reviewing the album and describing the song as the point where "things start to pick up," John Capone of Prefix Magazine described the song as a "three-Xanax-and-gin-martini-cocktail broken-hearted baroque ballad."[5] Angela Okhumoya of Addictmusic showed appreciation for Del Rey's writing abilities on "Carmen" stating that it is "better than most of her contemporaries."[6] Dom Gourlay of Contactmusic gave the song a positive review, stating "You want hip-hop beats? Check. Radio friendly choruses? Check. Singalong verses for the hen party and karaoke masses? Check."[7] Rob Harvilla of Spin noted the song for its ability to "gently ascends/descends to Drake/Weeknd empty-hedonism poignancy."[8] Billboard called the song a "poor man's version of far-superior (and hookier) anthems like "Roxanne".[9]

Live performances Edit

Del Rey first performed the song live on April 10, 2012, at the Jazz Cafe in London, United Kingdom. The song was also included in the setlist of the 2012 leg of the Born to Die Tour, the Paradise Tour (2013-2014), and the Festival Tour (2016).

Cross-references Edit

Music videoEdit

Music video Information
CARMEN

CARMEN

Released April 21, 2012
Length 5:16
Director Lana Del Rey
Producer
Filmed June, 2011
Location
Vevo views N/A

Background and description Edit

On February 27, 2012, Del Rey revealed through her Facebook page that she had finished editing the music video for "Carmen". Del Rey premiered the music video on April 21, 2012. The video opens with Instagram-style snapshots of New York City, spliced together with scenes of old Hollywood paparazzi, a rose, and shots of Del Rey herself. Once the song begins, we see a dressed woman working a pole, then Del Rey on a city porch. The song goes on to feature black and white photo stills, animated food scenes, Del Rey riding the back of a motorcycle operated by the model Josh Rachlin and multiple references to drugs and troubled youth. In one scene, Del Rey is behind the camera interviewing Rachlin, asking him about his dream girl and giggling. The video ends with Erik Satie's piano composition "Gymnopédie No.1" and a woman dancing in a field until the word "Fin" ("the end" in French) graces the screen.

Photoshoot by Martin Zähringer (June 11, 2011) Edit

Official versions Edit

  • Album version — 4:08
  • Demo version — 4:17 (produced by Justin Parker)
  • A cappella demo — 3:06
  • Instrumental version — 4:07

LyricsEdit

Album versionEdit

Darlin', darlin'
Doesn't have a problem
Lyin' to herself
'Cause her liquor's top shelf
It's alarming honestly
How charming she can be
Fooling everyone
Telling them she's having fun

She says, "You don't want to be like me, don't want to see all the things I've seen"
I'm dyin', I'm dyin'
She says, "You don't want to get this way, famous and dumb at an early age"
Lyin', I'm lyin'

The boys, the girls
They all like Carmen
She gives them butterflies
Bats her cartoon eyes

She laughs like God
Her mind's like a diamond
Audiotune lies
She's still shinin'
Like lightning
White lightning

Carmen, Carmen
Staying up till morning
Only 17, but she walks the streets so mean
It's alarming truly
How disarming you can be
Eatin' soft ice cream
Coney Island queen

She says, "You don't want to be like me, lookin' for fun, gettin' high for free"
I'm dyin', I'm dyin'
She says, "You don't want to get this way, street walk at night, and a star by day"
It's tirin', tirin'

The boys, the girls
They all like Carmen
She gives them butterflies
Bats her cartoon eyes

She laughs like God
Her mind's like a diamond
Audiotune lies
She's still shinin'
Like lightning
White lightning

Baby's all dressed up with nowhere to go
That's the little story of the girl you know
Relying on the kindness of strangers
Tying cherry knots
Smiling, doing party favours
Put your red dress on, put your lipstick on
Sing your song, song, now the camera's on
And you're alive again

The boys, the girls
They all like Carmen
She gives them butterflies
Bats her cartoon eyes

She laughs like God
Her mind's like a diamond
Audiotune lies
She's still shinin'
Like lightning
White lightning.

Darlin', darlin'
Doesn't have a problem
Lyin' to herself
'Cause her liquor's top shelf

A cappella demoEdit

The boys, the girls, they all like Carmen
She gives them butterflies, bats her cartoon eyes
She laughs like God, her mind's like a diamond
Audio tune lies, but she's still shinin', shinin', shinin'

Darlin', darlin', doesn't have a problem
Lyin' to herself, says her liquor's top shelf
It's alarmin', honestly, how charmin' she can be
She's fooling everyone, tellin' 'em she's havin' fun

The night descends and there goes Carmen
Only seventeen, but she walks the streets so mean
The men, they stop when she walks by 'em
Whisper, "Who is she?" La princesa de la silence
Her walk is art; her words are lightnin'
Strikin' everyone when she pass by them

Carmen, darlin', doesn't have a problem
She's lyin' to herself 'cause her liquor's top shelf
It's alarmin', honestly, how charmin' she can be
She's foolin' everyone, tellin' 'em she's havin' fun

She looks animated like a cartoon baby
With her tiara smile and her shortcake heart
Yo, she looks animated like a cartoon baby
with her champagne sex and her cocaine heart

She's like a light that you can't turn off
Gettin' too bright and you need to stop
But you can't turn off and you're gettin' hot
And your body keeps twistin', movin', twistin', movin', shakin', yeah
Twistin', movin', shakin', yeah
Dance 'til dawn, yeah, you dance 'til you drop

Carmen, Carmen, doesn't have a problem
Lyin' to herself 'cause her liquor's top shelf
Oh, it's alarmin', honest, how disarmin' she can be
You're foolin' everyone when inside you know you're dyin'
 
Carmen, Carmen, doesn't have a problem
Lyin' to herself 'cause her liquor's top shelf

CreditsEdit

Personnel
  • Lana Del Rey — vocals, songwriting
  • Justin Parker — songwriting, vocal production
  • Emile Haynie — production, drums, guitar, keyboards
  • Jeff Bhasker — additional production, additional keyboards, additional strings
  • Lenha Labelle — French vocals
  • Larry Gold — strings arrangement and conduction
  • Steve Tirpak — strings assistance
  • Manny Marroquin — mixing
  • Erik Madrid & Chris Galland — assistance
  • John Davis — mastering
Technical
  • Published by EMI / Sony ATV
  • Mastered at Metropolis Mastering, London, United Kingdom

Release historyEdit

Country Date Format Label
Austria January 26, 2012 Digital download Universal Music Group
Germany
Switzerland

References Edit