"Pretty When You Cry" is a song by Lana Del Rey. It was written by Del Rey and co-written by her guitarist Blake Stranathan. It was released on Del Rey's second major-label studio album Ultraviolence.
The song was written by Del Rey and guitarist Stranathan. In the thank you message at the end of the Ultraviolence booklet, Del Rey thanks Stranathan and explains he “set the tone for the whole album with "Cruel World" and "Pretty When You Cry".” The recording of the song was improvised, Stranathan played chords while Del Rey sang the lyrics spontaneously. On the production of the track, Del Rey went on to say “I didn’t even think to go back and fix it because if you know the story behind it, then you can tell why it was sung that way.”
"Pretty When You Cry" is a rock ballad in 4/4 performed at approximately 110 beats per minute in B♭ minor and runs for 3 minutes and 35 seconds. The track opens with Del Rey accompanied by an electric guitar. In the pre-chorus vocal samples and drums join the track. In the final chorus Del Rey sings in a higher register than in the rest of the song. The song is simple structurally. Lyrically, the song is about a Del Rey's relationship with an unreliable man. Despite the title, Del Rey only sings "pretty when I cry".
On June 16, 2014, Del Rey posted a short preview of a music video for "Pretty When You Cry" to Instagram, but the full video was never released or leaked.
- Del Rey mentions a relationship with a man who loves drugs in "Shades of Cool".
- Del Rey wants to be the "whole world's girl" in "Gramma (Blue Ribbon Sparkler Trailer Heaven)".
- Album version – 3:54
- Instrumental version – 3:52
- Written by Lana Del Rey & Blake Stranathan.
- Vocals by Lana Del Rey.
- Produced by Lana Del Rey, Blake Stranathan & Lee Foster.
- Engineered by Phil Joly.
- Guitar by Blake Stranathan.
- Drums by Brian Griffin.
- Mixed by Robert Orton at Hot Rock Studios.
- Mastered by John Davis at Metropolis Studios, London.