Monday, May 26, 2014

"Shades of Cool"- Lana Del Rey

Last week on the blog, I was bemoaning a lack of Bonnie "Prince" Billy songs in surf movies. I couldn't help but wonder aloud how the indie-folk legend had been shut out of something he seemed tailor-made to soundtrack. But in all of that huffing and puffing, I'd blown past an even more egregious error: the lack of a Lana Del Rey Bond theme song. I understand the pop siren's only been on the radar long enough to realistically appear in one Bond film, 2012's stellar Skyfall, but what about the new effort? Have the film's higher-ups even considered "Gangsta Nancy Sinatra" or are visions of Adele still dancing in their heads?

Whatever the case may be Lana Del Rey's latest Ultraviolence single "Shades of Cool" acts as a terrific tape submission for the role. Nearly every crucial component of a Bond theme is here, from discreet percussion to subtle string flourishes and bending guitars. In fact, hearing the wavering riff in the intro even my mother was lead to ask "is this a Bond song? So if you're not picturing crosshairs popping up when it hits, you're doing something wrong.

Getting the musical costume right isn't enough though; you need to nail the performance as well. Themes crafted by the likes of Garbage and inestimable Shirley Bassey have proven a Bond performance calls for an unflappable cool papering over a flood of emotions, which Del Rey's being doing since she was "swinging in the backyard." Even while dealing with a druggy partner she deems "unfixable" in the airy chorus, she isn't the least bit flummoxed. She can wait until she's no longer "one of many," but the one and only. If the day never comes, if she never breaks through, she'll leave along with the sweltering guitar solo ending "Shades of Cool". Tears may bead down her face as she walks out the door and she'll still appear stone-faced. Like 007 himself, she's a survivor.

Ultraviolence drops June 13 on Polydor/Interscope.

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