Lana del Rey is a singer-songwriter best known for her breakthrough single "Video Games." Her musicality became popular as characterized by her unique, melancholic, vulnerable voice with heartbreaking romance themes and undertones of laid-back America in the '50s to '60s. Her riveting, cinematic videos complement the poignant songs she swoons. Early in her career in 2012, she was branded as fake, an anti-feminist, and was chastised for her lack of realness. At the turn of the decade, Del Rey is the only musical artist selected by Washington Post in its list of "Decade of Influence" last October 2019.

Life and career

Elizabeth Woolridge Grant was born in Manhattan, New York City, on June 20, 1985, to parents who were in the advertising industry. She has two other siblings, younger brother Charlie and a younger sister, Caroline.

The family moved to Lake Placid, New York, where she had a hard time growing up and started drinking heavily. Her early academic years were spent in a Catholic school, but she was transferred to Kent School, a boarding learning facility in Connecticut, at the age of 15. She admitted she found it complicated to build friendships as a teenager, and even in her early adult years.

Start of a new life

When she graduated from high school in sobriety, she moved to live with her uncle and aunt in Long Island, NY. She learned how to play the guitar from her uncle and started writing songs. Del Rey bussed tables as a waitress, and later, she began singing in nightclubs around the city under the name of Lizzy Grant. She also used pseudo name Sparkle Jump Rope Queen.

By the time Grant was 19, she had got into college at Fordham University, where she had taken up philosophy. Her passion for music prevailed, and she went on singing with open mic nights and gigs in clubs. While joining a songwriting competition in 2006 where she had her first public performance, one of the judges took notice of her work even when she did not win. The judge invited her to make a demo, and Grant was eventually entered into a contract with an indie label, 5 Points.

The artistry of Lana Del Rey and how she got her name

Lizzy Grant wanted to create a stage name that she said could shape her music before the release of her debut album. Her frequent trips to Miami inspired her to take on Lana Del Rey, which reminds her of the seaside's glamour.

She released the album "Lana Del Ray AKA Lizzy Grant" in 2010, which she bought back the rights to so it will not be confused with her new moniker.

In 2011, she concentrated on writing songs and produced "Video Games" and "Blue Jeans." She uploaded the raw home-made music videos on YouTube, where "Video Games" became a viral hit. It led her to be signed up with Signal Records, and it became her debut single.


Del Rey's second studio album, "Born to Die," was her first under a major record label launched in 2012. It peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album charts. In the same year, she came out with EP "Paradise," featuring tracks "Ride" and "Cola" and earned her a Grammy nomination.

Her third album titled "Ultraviolence," released in 2014 topped the Billboard 200 on its debut. Featured songs are "Sad Girl," "Pretty When You Cry," and "West Coast."

Lana Del Rey performing at Coachella in 2014
(Photo: Commons Wikimedia/Neon Tommy)
Lana Del Rey performing at Coachella in 2014

Dark-themed fourth album "Honeymoon," which gained praise from critics, was released in 2015. It ranked best at No. 2 on Billboard 200.

After two years, Del Rey launched "Lust for Life," which saw her collaborative works with The Weeknd on the title track, Stevie Nicks on the song "Beautiful People Beautiful Problems," and Sean Lennon with "Tomorrow Never Came." Once again, the album topped the albums chart.

In August 2019, her sixth studio album, "Norman F*****g Rockwell," came out. Four singles from the latest album were previously released from 2018 to early 2019. Critics call it her greatest album to date. 

The Now

The once highly criticized singer is justifiably vindicated with the authenticity of her works, as Washington Post cited. She is hailed as one of the best pop stars in her generation. Del Rey has been nominated four times in the Grammys for her numerous creative songs. In September 2019, she collaborated with Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey for the theme song of the reprise movie "Charlie's Angels."

She is working on her audiobook of poetry "Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass" that is expected to be released this year. Del Rey was also asked to write a Broadway musical.