"Carmen" is a song written by Lana Del Rey and Justin Parker and produced by Emile Haynie and Jeff Bhasker. Taken from Lana's first major-label album Born to Die, the song served as the album's second promotional single worldwide, following "Off to the Races". Lana first performed the song on April 10, 2012, at the Jazz Cafe. An acapella demo of the song was leaked in early 2012.
Background and composition
"Carmen" was written by Del Rey and Justin Parker, and produced by Emile Haynie with additional production by Jeff Bhasker. 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 inNew York City. Del Rey told Complex that the melody and the lyrics of "Carmen" "come together".
"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." 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. 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." Angela Okhumoya of Addictmusic showed appreciation for Del Rey's writing abilities on "Carmen" stating that it is "better than most of her contemporaries." 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." Rob Harvilla of Spin noted the song for its ability to "gently ascends/descends to Drake/Weeknd empty-hedonism poignancy." Billboard called the song a "poor man's version of far-superior (and hookier) anthems like "Roxanne".
- The lyric "mind like a diamond" is also in "JFK". This lyric is a quote from Twin Peaks; Lynch's work has possibly influenced Del Rey's other work, such as Blue Velvet, and elements of Twin Peaks - including domestic abuse towards women and brothels - are also in Del Rey's songs. It is possible that Del Rey's inspiration for the alias "Lana" came from the character of the same name in Twin Peaks who entrances the local men, and attracts older men too.
- References to Coney Island are also present in "Mermaid Motel", "Off to the Races" and "TV In Black & White".
- References to butterflies are also present in "Butterflies", "Butterflies Pt. 2" and "Heavy Hitter".
- A "red dress" is also mentioned in "Summertime Sadness", "Cruel World", "Off to the Races", "Yes to Heaven" and "Criminals Run the World".
- Soft ice cream is also a frequent lyric in "Salvatore".
|Released||April 21, 2012|
|Director||Lana Del Rey|
Background & description
On February 27, 2012, Del Rey revealed through her Facebook page that she just finished editing the music video for "Carmen". The singer 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 Lana herself. Once the song begins, we see a dressed woman working a pole, then Lana on a city porch. The song goes on to feature black and white photo stills, animated food scenes, Lana riding the back of a motorcycle operated by the model Josh Rachlin and multiple references to drugs and troubled youth. In one scene, Lana is behind the camera interviewing Rachlin, asking him about his dream girl and giggling. The video ends with the Erik Satie's song "Gymnopédie No.1." and a woman dancing in a field until the word “fin” graces the screen.
Photoshoot by Martin Zähringer (June, 2011)
- Vocal production — Justin Parker
- French vocals — Lenha Labelle
- Drums — Emile Haynie
- Guitar — Emile Haynie
- Keyboards — Emile Haynie
- Additional keyboards — Jeff Bhasker
- Additional strings — Jeff Bhasker
- Strings arrangement and conducting — Larry Gold
- Strings assisting — Steve Tirpak
- Mixing — Manny Marroquin
- Assistant mixing — Erik Madrid & Chris Galland
- ↑ http://beta.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/bizarre/4091590/When-I-write-songs-I-stand-under-the-telephone-wires-and-take-in-their-energy.html
- ↑ http://www.complex.com/covers/lana-del-rey-interview-against-the-grain-2014-cover-story/
- ↑ http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/reviews/album-lana-del-rey-born-to-die-interscopepolydor-6295631.html
- ↑ http://www.nme.com/reviews/lana-del-rey/12692
- ↑ http://www.prefixmag.com/reviews/lana-del-rey/born-to-die/61168/
- ↑ http://www.addictmusic.co.uk/reviews/album-reviews/lana-del-rey-born-to-die-polydorinterscope/
- ↑ http://www.contactmusic.com/album-review/lana-del-rey-born-to-die
- ↑ http://www.spin.com/reviews/lana-del-rey-born-die-interscope
- ↑ http://web.archive.org/web/20140704085554/http://www.billboard.com/articles/review/1067142/lana-del-reys-born-to-die-track-by-track-review