Lana Del Rey’s love affair with America, money, and true love (possibly not in that particular order) continues with her song “National Anthem”. The video, directed by Anthony Mandler, opens with a reenactment of Marilyn Monroe’s breathily sung, celebratory “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” tribute to John F. Kennedy, with Lana onstage in place of Marilyn and a slow reveal of dapper rapper A$AP Rocky in the audience, taking on the role of President Kennedy. At the end of this introductory number, Lana and A$AP exchange knowing glances and, for an instant, the video flashes forward to the recreation of the sudden and tragic assassination of the President. A disconcerting blur of home movie footage with American flag imagery unspools against the sound of horrified screams from the crowd.
“National Anthem” proper begins to play as the video rewinds in time to before paradise was lost. Lana, as always, beguiles in her vintage glam style as she, A$AP, their 3 children, and pet Papillon picnic on the prime lakeside lawn. Lana and her man are very “hands-on” with each other, never letting a kiss slip by or leaving a body part untouched. They stay connected while fêting their older daughter’s birthday, walking on the pebbled shoreline, gliding by in a sailboat, driving in a retro car, and dining indoors. Lana is shown alone only when tending to her blossoming rose garden in the golden glow of the late day sun.
This lushly filmed idyllic lifestyle of the rich and famous is intercut with a mesmeric Lana lounging on a lion skin rug, sing-talking directly to the viewer, at times with a defiant gleam of triumph in her eye, and at others with a softly crestfallen gaze. The easy, rhythmic swing of the song goes down even smoother with the buttery sway of Lana’s vocal delivery as she innocently intones “Money is the anthem of success.” and admitting to “…blurring the lines between real and the fake.”
What could be a politically or racially provocative video is made moot by Lana’s blasé take on the situation. Politics and civil rights are non-issues, while true love, hothouse passion, familial bonds, and the high life are idealized to the extreme. As Lana states, “It’s a love story for the new age…” Her vision is unabashedly glamorized and glorified, captured in this overripe mini-movie fantasy where each frame is painstakingly composed, from the stop-motion blooming rose to romanticized shots of the devoted couple who are oh-so-in-love.
In a nod to modernity and edgy luxe, the President and First Lady host dice games, shake to the latest dance craze, are fitted with the latest bling, sport tattoos, smoke and drink at breakfast, and, in the specific case of A$AP, downs cognac and puffs cigars whenever he wants. Lana’s handy “trust no one” tattoo proves prophetic by the end of the video, which dramatically closes with the intimation of the presidential assassination and a shocked and bereft Lana flashing back to her dreamworld memories of the pair’s perfect life together.
Official Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60cvtxwlJr8