Although she had sung in the church choir as a child, Elizabeth Woolridge Grant first began writing songs while attending New York's Fordham University
where she studied Philosophy. After learning the guitar she played local bars before teaming up with veteran producer David Kahne (Paul McCartney, The Bangles, Matthew Sweet, Tony Bennett etc.) and releasing the three track Kill Kill EP under the name of Lizzy Grant in 2008. Two years later her debut album Lana Del Rey was made available via iTunes but she later bought back the rights from her label 5 Points Records and removed it from sale. With a new recording contract with Stranger Records and now using the name Lana Del Rey she released the single 'Video Games' which despite failing to enter the charts in the USA was a big hit in Australia and across Europe including the UK where it debuted on the charts at No 9 and later won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song. The follow-up 'Born To Die' replicated her debut by missing the American charts but doing well in Australia, Europe and peaking once again at No 9 in the UK. Preceded by a four track self-titled EP, Born To Die was released at the end of January 2012 and featured twelve tracks co-written by Del Rey and a number of songwriters and producers including Rick Nowels, Emile Haynie, Patrik Berger, Jeff Bhasker, Mike Daly, Jim Irvin and Al Shux. While her previous two singles had been ignored in her homeland the album was a bona fide triumph there, debuting at No 2 and going platinum. The record's success wasn't confined to just the USA either, it topped the charts in eleven countries including Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland and the UK with eventual worldwide sales in excess of four and a half million copies.
Following the modest success of the next couple of singles ('Blue Jeans' and 'National Anthem') Del Rey released the expanded Born To Die - The Paradise Edition in November 2012 while the eight new tracks on the record were also issued separately as the Paradise EP which debuted at No 10 on the US charts and yielded the UK Top 40 hit 'Ride'. Beginning work on her second long player she recruited another group of successful songwriters and producers including Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Beyoncé), Paul Epworth (Adele, Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Paul McCartney) and a returning Rick Nowels, although the majority of the album was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Prior to the album's release Del Rey enjoyed a Top 30 hit on both sides of the Atlantic with 'Young And Beautiful' a track she had composed for the soundtrack of the Baz Luhrmann movie The Great Gatsby. Ultraviolence was released in June 2014 and debuted at the top of the US charts, a feat it emulated in twelve other countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. A platinum seller in most territories the record was a runaway success with more than a million copies sold worldwide within its first two months. Shortly after the album's release French DJ and producer Cedric Gervais remixed 'Summertime Sadness' from the previous LP, and, credited as Lana Del Rey vs Cedric Gervais the song became her biggest hit so far peaking at No 4 and No 6 in the UK and the USA respectively. The singer was also featured on the soundtrack to Disney's Maleficent, a live action remake of the 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty, where she reinterpreted the previously upbeat song 'Once Upon A Dream' (originally sung by Mary Costa and Bill Shirley) as a brooding slice of darkness. While Ultraviolence produced several more singles, only 'West Coast' proved to be a significant success by debuting at No 17 in the USA and No 21 in the UK.
In addition to her Ivor Novello Award she has received numerous other honours including two BRIT Awards, two ECHO Awards and the 2012 Q Award for the Next Big Thing. Lana Del Rey has already proved herself to be an immensely individual artist, her name may conjure visions of a Cuban nightclub chanteuse, her look melds elements from the golden age of Hollywood with a high flying socialite while her music is brooding and atmospheric and often reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux and Rufus Wainwright. If her image, voice and music are hardy typical then lyrically too she avoids the obvious and the trite, preferring to shine a light in life's darker corners on songs such as 'Carmen' (from Born To Die); Baby's all dressed up with nowhere to go, That's the little story of the girl you know, Relying on the kindness of strangers, Tying cherry knots, smiling, doing party favours, Put your red dress on, put your lipstick on, Sing your song, song, now the camera's on, And you're alive again.
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