With New Album 'Blue Banisters,' We Rank Lana Del Rey's Discography

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Saturday October 23, 2021
Originally published on October 20, 2021

Lana Del Rey in her "Blue Banisters" music video
Lana Del Rey in her "Blue Banisters" music video  

Lana Del Rey might be in the most prolific era of her career. After releasing her most critically lauded album "Norman Fucking Rockwell!" in 2019, the singular singer-songwriter has followed it up with two new albums in 2021. In March of this year, Lana released "Chemtrails Over the Country Club" but she returns Friday with a brand new full length LP, "Blue Banisters."

As she gears up to release "Blue Banisters," we rank Del Rey's six LPs, starting with her 2012 breakout "Born to Die."

06. "Ultraviolence"

Lana Del Rey's sophomore effort "Ultraviolence" begins her journey on the West Coast, where she roots herself for the next few albums. It also finds her waning away from New York City as inspiration as well as trading hip-hop inspired beats for rock and folk. "Cruel World," "Shades of Cool" and "Brooklyn Baby" are guitar-focused tracks but Lana still retains her the swagger that made "Born to Die" a classic with songs like the stirring "Black Beauty" and dramatic "Fucked My Way to the Top."

05. "Lust for Life"

"Lust for Life" might end up being a transitional record for Lana, who jumps around with genres on her 4th album, released in 2017. The highs are high here, however, resulting in some of her best songs like "Love," the climate change doomsday anthem "Coachella - Woodstock in My Mind" and the emotional "God Bless America - And All The Beautiful Women In It." These ballad-y tracks that sound like stream of continuousness siren songs now feel like the blueprints for what will become Lana's best album to date.

04. "Born to Die"

It all started with "Born to Die" in 2012. Problematically billed as "the gangsta Nancy Sinatra" when she released the stunning single "Video Games," Lana's cinematic debut changed the game. Full of dark lyrics of drug use, abusive men and sex, "Born to Die" sounded nothing like what was going on in pop music at the time; she created a persona, pissed off bloggers and turned out some her best music, like the title track, "Blue Jeans," "Summertime Sadness," "Without You" and more. Lana hit a nerve with her cinematic debut, a sound that she's drifted from but that she still toys with from time to time, popping up in the best moments.

03. "Honeymoon"

"Honeymoon" might be Lana's most stirring album. It's full of ballads and torch songs with minimal production, finding Lana hypnotically cooing on several songs, like "God Knows I Tried" where she sings the title lyrics what feels like a dozen times. But it's punctuated with a few stellar upbeat moments, like lead single "High By the Beach," a hip-hop based song where Lana chants, "All I wanna do is get high by the beach, get high by the beach, get high" as well as "Freak" and "Art Deco."

02. "Chemtrails Over the Country Club"

Following her critically acclaimed album "Norman Fucking Rockwell!," Lana returned this year with "Chemtrails Over the Country Club." It feels like a companion album to "NFR!" as producer Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Lorde, The Chicks) returns as her main collaborator. (Singers Nikki Lane, Zella Day and Weyes Blood all contribute vocals.) Billed as her Midwest album, "COCC" is even more stripped back and folky than "NFR!" The title track is a hypnotic ballad that builds, "Tulsa Jesus Freak" is a fascinating track that features autotune and some of Lana's best songwriting but single and opener "White Dress" steals the show. It's one of her best and strangest songs: "When I was a waitress, wearing a tight dress / Look at how I do this / Look how I got this," she sings. It's a nostalgic track where she reminisces about listening to the White Stripes and Kings of Leon and it also features some of her most wild vocal performances in her career.

01. "Norman Fucking Rockwell!"

What many consider a modern classic, Lana's "Norman Fucking Rockwell!" is an epic album to be sure, clocking in at over an hour long. (In their review for the LP, Pitchfork wrote it "establishes her as one of America's greatest living songwriters.) It's the first time she collaborates with Jack Antonoff, and the first time she pushes herself into genres like folk and psychedelic rock. It features some of her best songs, both lyrically and sonically, like the nearly 10-minute "Venice Bitch" and the closing track "hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but i have it." "NFR!" a fantastic and complex grand statement about America, thats at once captivating and vexing, much like Lana herself.