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After having commercial success with her first major-label album, Born to Die, Del Rey re-released it accompanied by a standalone EP, Paradise, in late 2012. Del Rey presumably began working on her second around this time. She was photographed in a recording studio on January 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. She stated that she had been recording in Santa Monica, California to finish the record. In interviews around this time, Del Rey talked about the development of her album, playing tracks, such as "Black Beauty" and describing the album as dark and spiritual.
When "Black Beauty" leaked, Del Rey said "I do feel discouraged, yeah. I don't really know what to put on the record. But I guess I could just put them on and see what happens" leaving the fate of the song on the album uncertain. She added, she was working on Ultraviolence "until my record got leaked last week, 'cause my life is like completely invaded. But yeah, I'm writing songs that I really like right now. They're really low-key and stripped back, all sort of West Coast inspired."
The first announcement of the record was made at the premier of Del Rey's short film, Tropico, at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood on December 4, 2013. While leaving a nightclub in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, she stated to various reporters during a short interview about Ultraviolence that the album would be released on May 1, although there was no official confirmation from her label. On May 8, Fnac confirmed that the release date has been set for June 13, 2014.
On April 19, 2014, during a show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Del Rey revealed a new song title, "Cruel World", calling it her favorite song from the album. She performed a snippet of the song before opening the show with "Cola". On May 3, 2014, a title was revealed in an interview with a French magazine called “Money, Power & Glory”. It was later confirmed that the title was "Money Power Glory".
The track listing for the album was revealed on May 8, 2014 on Amazon.fr. Del Rey later posted it to her Facebook page. The album art for Ultraviolence was unveiled on Del Rey's official tumblr on May 9, 2014. The black and white cover shows Del Rey standing by the open door of a car with "Ultraviolence" written in all caps in the same font as Born to Die and Paradise. Unlike to her previous two releases, the photo wasn't taken at a music video shoot.
Del Rey was originally said to be working with the same three writers and producers as she was on Born to Die (Emile Haynie, Justin Parker and Rick Nowels). She also stated that was working with Dan Heath, her boyfriend Barrie James O'Neill and that she wanted to work with Lou Reed.
On February 20, 2014 Del Rey posted a picture of herself and Dan Auerbach on Twitter with the caption "Me and Dan Auerbach are excited to present you Ultraviolence". Del Rey and Auerbach were rumored to be working together at Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound recording studio in Nashville, Tennessee in January and he was said to be producing her upcoming album. During May, 2014, Del Rey revealed that the inclusion of Auerbach was last-minute. The two met in New York when the she believed that the record was finished.
It is believed that few songs from the original production sessions made the final cut on the album as Del Rey said that she and Auerbach were initially scheduled to work together for three days but ended up spending two weeks on recording a full album. This may have been a contribution to her departure from her signature "baroque pop" sound.
Sound and writing
Del Rey stated that the album will be spiritually influenced lyrically. She has also stated that the record will be "a little more stripped down but still cinematic and dark." On January 25, 2014, Del Rey said in a direct message on Twitter to a fan, "[Ultraviolence] is absolutely gorgeous - darker then [sic] the first - so dark it's almost unlistenable and wrong. But I love it!"
While when writing the album there was no running theme, Del Rey stated that there is a narrative, with the opening track "Cruel World" being heavily inspired by the West Coast and then the rest of the album, sonically, moving towards a more Brooklyn sound. In addition, it also features heavy guitars and jazz tones.
The album was written over two years, since the release of Born to Die, but Del Rey felt there was no real substance until November 2013 when she sat down with melodies and lyrics she had been working on and wrote the album. Over three weeks in Electric Lady Studios in New York, Del Rey recorded the album with Rick Nowels. By the end of the session the album was complete. However, shortly after Dan Auerbach and Del Rey met in a club and decided to work together. Two weeks later Del Rey rerecorded the entire album with Auerbach using a Shure SM-58 microphone and a live band. In terms of the title, Del Rey stated it doesn't necessarily intend to reference the novel and film "A Clockwork Orange", which is often credited as coining the term. Rather, Del Rey chose the title because she liked how it sounded.
Del Rey revealed the official album artwork for Ultraviolence on May 9, 2014, on the same day that the official track list was revealed. The cover art was shot by Neil Krug during a promotional photoshoot for the album, and it was designed by Mat Waitland at Big Active. The deluxe edition artwork is very similar to the standard artwork except the title is much smaller. Urban Outfitters stores sold an exclusive LP version of the record with alternate artwork, that was also photographed by Neil Krug.
Release and promotionOn December 4, 2013, at the premiere for Tropico, Del Rey stated "I really just wanted us all to be together so I could try and visually close out my chapter before I release the new record, Ultraviolence". During February 2014, she suggested that the record would be released on May 1, but on May 5, at her concert in Montreal, Del Rey told the crowd it would be released in June. On May 14, the official release date was finally revealed.
A day before its release in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland on June 13, 2014, Ultraviolence leaked through people buying copies a day early. The album was then released on June 16 in France, the UK and Italy, then June 17 in Canada, the US, Spain and Mexico and finally June 18 in Japan.
Various editions of the album were sold, including standard, deluxe and a "super deluxe" boxset. The Ultraviolence Deluxe Boxset contained a deluxe 2LP picture disc set of Ultraviolence, a deluxe version of Ultraviolence on a CD digipack, and four 12" x 12" art prints. The cover of the exclusive set featured the album title printed in black foil. Currently, Ultraviolence is the only major-label album by Del Rey not to feature her signature name in large type on the front cover of the album.
On June 18, 2014, a trailer was released to YouTube and Vevo to promote the album. It featured snippets of all the promotional singles as well as unused shots from the "West Coast" music video, similar to the iTunes trailer, which was released on May 27, 2014.
Del Rey did not promote the album with television performances. Instead relying on a couple of print and radio interviews, music videos, and social media. In September, she first cancelled two private concerts for Virgin Radio in Paris, and then the rest of her European appearances, including an appearance on BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, due to illness.
- Main article: Endless Summer Tour
On December 1, 2014, six months after the release of Ultraviolence, Del Rey announced the Endless Summer Tour, a formal North American headlining concert tour to further promote the album. Along with this announcement, Del Rey confirmed that Courtney Love would be opening for the tour. On April 1, 2015, Del Rey announced that Grimes would be opening for second half of dates. The tour began on May 7, 2015, in The Woodlands, Texas, and concluded on June 16, 2015, in West Palm Peach, Florida.
"West Coast" premiered on BBC Radio 1 on April 14, 2014; the song was then released as a single on iTunes and posted to Del Rey's VEVO. It received critical acclaim and performed modestly on the charts, entering the Top 40 in many countries. The official music video was released on May 7.
In the weeks prior to the release of Ultraviolence, three promotional singles were released. "Shades of Cool" was announced to be the album's first promotional single and was released May 26. A music video was released on June 17. "Ultraviolence" premiered on BBC Radio 1 on June 4; the song was then released as a single on iTunes and posted to VEVO. Del Rey announced via Instagram that "Brooklyn Baby" would be the album's third promotional single. It premiered on June 8.
|Consequence of Sound||A|
|Los Angeles Times|||
Upon release, Ultraviolence was met with a positive reaction from most critics. According to Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album currently holds a score of 74/100 based on 35 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Writing in The Guardian, Alexis Petridis wrote that "Every chorus clicks, the melodies are uniformly beautiful, and they soar and swoop, the better to demonstrate Del Rey's increased confidence in her voice. It's all so well done that the fact that the whole album proceeds at the same, somnambulant pace scarcely matters". Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly wrote about Del Rey's aesthetic, stating, "Kubrick would have loved Del Rey — a highly stylized vixen who romanticizes fatalism to near-pornographic levels, creating fantastically decadent moments of film-noir melodrama. It's an aesthetic that demands total commitment from both artist and listener, and it would be difficult to buy into if she didn't deliver such fully realized cinema." He also added, "Ultraviolence masterfully melds those elements, and completes the redemption narrative of a singer whose breakout-to-backlash arc on 2012's Born to Die made her a cautionary tale of music-industry hype." Tony Clayton-Lea of The Irish Times noted, "What seems certain is that whatever she really is, or whatever she does in her chosen milieu, Del Ray is the best at it." Jim Farber of New York Daily News wrote, "Ultimately, she's milking classic male fantasies of the sad Marilyn Monroe, the babe in distress who can only be saved by you - and your dollars." Critic Jamie Hamilton of DIY magazine reviewed the album on a positive note stating, "Most songs on Ultraviolence link up with a bluesy smoke of a sound. Whereas ‘Born to Die’ flirted with gloss and glitz, this is the sound of Lana hitting the road. Producer Dan Auerbach in tow, most of the time the tempo doesn’t get any quicker than a Kolo Touré sprint." Justin Charity of Complex magazine noted, "Ultraviolence is a blues affair, with moody innuendo spilling bloody and bold as the opening sequence to a vintage Bond saga." The critic also called it 'intimate', 'drunk driven'.Mike Diver for Clash Music commented, "For all its lows-inspired highs, Ultraviolence is not quite the complete picture. It goes so far as to reflect, albeit perhaps coincidentally, this era: black and white, the colour has to come from the performance, not the film it’s captured on." The critic gave a bottom line for Del Rey—"A bruised beauty, just short of classic status..."
|Billboard||The 14 Best Pop Albums of 2014||14|
|Cosmopolitan||20 Best Albums of 2014||7|
|Dazed||The Top 20 Albums of 2014||3|
|Digital Spy||Digital Spy's Best Albums of the Year 2014: 15-1||14|
|Entertainment Weekly||10 Best Albums of 2014||4|
|Gorilla vs. Bear||Gorilla vs. Bear's Albums of 2014||10|
|Los Angeles Times||Randall Roberts' Best Pop Albums of 2014||N/A|
|Mojo||Mojo's 50 Best Albums of 2014||40|
|NME||NME's Top 50 Albums of 2014||4|
|NPR||Ken Tucker's Top 9 Albums of 2014||4|
|Rolling Stone||50 Best Albums of 2014||7|
|San Jose Mercury News||Top 10 Albums of 2014||10|
|Slant Magazine||The 25 Best Albums of 2014||3|
|Spin||The 20 Best Pop Albums of 2014||5|
|Stereogum||The 50 Best Albums of 2014||12|
|The Boston Globe||James Reed's 2014 Best Album Picks||1|
|Time||Top 10 Best Albums of 2014||6|
On June 18, 2014, Billboard estimated that Ultraviolence would sell approximately 175-180,000 copies in first-week United States sales. The album debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200, with sales of 182,000, making it Lana Del Rey's first number-one album in the United States. Worldwide, the album sold over 356,000 units in its first week and debuted at number-one on Mediatraffic's Global Album Chart. By the end of 2014, the album had sold over 1.2 million copies.
The album also debuted on the UK Albums Chart at number one which is her first album to top that chart. Entirely, without much promotion of the album, Ultraviolence has made a good commercial performance universally with an exception of Asia. Overall, Ultraviolence debuted at number one in twelve countries and the Top 5 of eight other countries. Ultraviolence was certified Gold in Canada on June 25, and Silver in the United Kingdom on June 27.
|1.||"Cruel World"||Lana Del Rey, Blake Stranathan||Dan Auerbach||6:39|
|2.||"Ultraviolence"||Del Rey, Dan Heath||Auerbach||4:11|
|3.||"Shades of Cool"||Del Rey, Rick Nowels||Auerbach||5:42|
|4.||"Brooklyn Baby"||Del Rey, Barrie James O'Neill||Auerbach||5:52|
|5.||"West Coast"||Del Rey, Nowels||Auerbach||4:17|
|6.||"Sad Girl"||Del Rey, Nowels||Auerbach, Nowels (vocals)||5:18|
|7.||"Pretty When You Cry"||Del Rey, Stranathan||Del Rey, Stranathan, Lee Foster||3:54|
|8.||"Money Power Glory"||Del Rey, Greg Kurstin||Kurstin||4:31|
|9.||"Fucked My Way Up to the Top"||Del Rey, Heath||Auerbach||3:32|
|10.||"Old Money"||Del Rey, Heath, Robbie Fitzsimmons||Heath||4:31|
|11.||"The Other Woman"||Jessie Mae Robinson||Auerbach||3:02|
|Austria/German/Swiss edition bonus track|
|12.||"West Coast" (Radio Mix)||Del Rey, Nowels||Nowels||3:47|
|12.||"Black Beauty"||Del Rey, Nowels||Paul Epworth, Nowels (vocals)||5:15|
|13.||"Guns and Roses"||Del Rey, Nowels||Del Rey, Nowels, Foster||4:31|
|14.||"Florida Kilos"||Del Rey, Auerbach, Harmony Korine||Auerbach||4:14|
|iTunes Store bonus track|
|15.||"Is This Happiness"||Del Rey, Nowels||Nowels||3:45|
|Target & Fnac special edition bonus track|
|15.||"Flipside"||Del Rey, Stranathan||Del Rey, Stranathan||5:10|
|Japanese iTunes Store bonus tracks|
|15.||"Is This Happiness"||Del Rey, Nowels||Nowels||3:45|
|16.||"Flipside"||Del Rey, Stranathan||Del Rey, Stranathan||5:10|
Because the album was reworked with a new producer and a few demos were leaked during the writing sessions, a number of tracks that were written for this album did not made the final cut. "Angels Forever, Forever Angels" was one of the first aknowledged songs to be intended for a new record. Unfortunately, it was leaked on July 18, 2013 along with a "Black Beauty" demo, from Nowels' website. Del Rey stated that "Black Beauty" was an important track for the album and its leaking caused the song to have an uncertain fate, but in the end it was relegated as a bonus track.
Durring a track-by-track commentary, Del Rey stated that she had a song called "Melancholia" that was later reworked into "Ultraviolence".
"Fine China" and "Yes to Heaven" were registered on APRA AMCOS website after Ultraviolence was released, making fans to speculate that they were outtakes. Not much was known about the two songs until the summer of 2016 when snippets were leaked and it was revealed that both songs were recorded in 2013 during the same session with a few important songs from Ultraviolence like "Shades of Cool", "Sad Girl" and "Is This Happiness". It's unclear why they did not made the final cut but it was speculated that they did not fit the sound of the album after it was reworked with Auerbach. They are also registered on PPL Repertoire and "Yes to Heaven" is titled as "Say Yes to Heaven".
"Your Girl" was the only song that fans did not know about it until a person aknowledged it and leaked some snippets during the same time that "Fine China" and "Yes to Heaven" snippets were posted. The song features similar sounding to the tracks from the final tracklist but it may have been cut out in the favour of another song. No registration was found for this song until it was found on PPL Repertoire months after the first snippets were leaked.
"Wait for Life" was another song meant for Ultraviolence. Del Rey and Haynie met at his studio in New York for an album session but instead they talked about relationships, and spontaneously recorded a demo. Haynie kept the track and released it as a promotional single for his album, We Fall.
"I Can Fly" was recorded during the same session with "Fine China", "Yes to Heaven" and "Your Girl" and the rest of tracks that made the cut ("Shades of Cool", "Sad Girl" and "Is This Happiness") making it an outtake from Ultraviolence. The song was not featured on the final tracklist but was released as a sondtrack for Big Eyes movie.
"I Talk to Jesus" is a track recorded in 2014, according to its registration on PPL Repertoire. Fans are speculating that it was written for Ultraviolence since "Wait for Life" was also recorded in that year and meant for the album, but no clear information about this is known. It is also speculated that the track may be a cover of a song by Jon Bon Jovi of the same name.
In some photos of Del Rey in the studio recording Ultraviolence, the title "Trans Am" could be spotted on her lyric book. It is unknown if it was meant to be the name of a song, or something else.
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Ultraviolence.
- Performance credits
- Lana Del Rey - vocals (all tracks); background vocals (tracks 2, 5)
- Dan Auerbach - background vocals (track 14)
- Seth Kaufman - background vocals (tracks 4, 14)
- Alfreda McCrary Lee - background vocals (track 2)
- Ann McCrary - background vocals (track 2)
- Regina McCrary - background vocals (track 2)
- Dan Auerbach - claps (track 1); electric guitar (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 14); shaker, 12-string acoustic guitar (track 5); synthesizer (tracks 5, 6, 11, 14)
- Collin Dupuis - drum programming (tracks 2, 3, 9, 14); synthesizer (track 6)
- Brian Griffin - drums (tracks 6, 13)
- Ed Harcourt - piano (track 12)
- Tom Herbert - bass guitar (track 12)
- Seth Kaufman - synthesizer, claps (track 1); electric guitar (tracks 2, 4, 6, 9); omnichord (track 3); percussion (track 4)
- Nikolaj Torp Larsen - philicorda, mellotron (track 12)
- Leon Michaels - claps (track 1); synthesizer (tracks 1, 2, 9, 11, 14); piano (tracks 2, 9); mellotron (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 11, 14); tambourine, percussion, tenor saxophone (track 4, 11)
- Nick Movshon - claps (track 1); bass guitar (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 9); upright bass (track 4); drums (tracks 4, 5, 6, 11, 14)
- Rick Nowels - piano (track 12)
- Russ Pahl - pedal steel guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4, 9, 11); electric guitar (tracks 3, 14); acoustic guitar (tracks 4, 6)
- Blake Stranathan - guitar (tracks 7, 13)
- Pablo Tato - guitar (track 12)
- Leo Taylor - drums (track 12)
- Kenny Vaughan - electric guitar (tracks 1, 2, 3, 9, 11); acoustic guitar (track 4); synthesizer, mellotron (track 6)
- Maximilian Weissenfeldt - claps (track 1); drums (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9)
- Technical and production
- Dan Auerbach - production (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 14); mixing (tracks 2, 14)
- Julian Burg - additional engineering (track 8)
- Vira Byramji - assistant engineer (track 13)
- John Davis - mastering (all tracks)
- Lana Del Rey - production (tracks 7, 13)
- Collin Dupuis - engineering (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 14); mixing (tracks 2, 14)
- Paul Epworth - production (track 12)
- Lee Foster - production (tracks 7, 13)
- Milton Gutiérrez - engineering (track 10)
- Dan Heath - production, arrangement (track 10)
- Phil Joly - engineering (track 7); tracking engineer, mixing (track 13)
- Greg Kurstin - production, mixing (track 8)
- Neil Krug - photography
- Mat Maitland - design
- Matthew McGaughey - orchestration (track 10)
- Kieron Menzies - vocal engineering (tracks 6, 12)
- Rick Nowels - vocal production (tracks 6, 12); production (track 13)
- Alex Pasco - additional engineering (track 8)
- Robert Orton - mixing (tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12)
- Myan Soffia - additional photography
- Blake Stranathan - production (tracks 7, 16)
- Matt Wiggins - engineering (track 12)
- Andy Zisakis - assistant engineer (track 10)
- iTunes Deluxe (UK)
- Art originals
- Special edition credits
Art prints shot by Neil Krug
Charts and certifications
- Buy Ultraviolence on iTunes.
- Buy Ultraviolence on Google Play.
- Buy Ultraviolence on Amazon.
- Stream Ultraviolence on Spotify.