An Awakened Woman's Love Song

The dark themes behind Mazzy Star and Lana Del Rey’s love songs

a zine style image of lana del rey and mazzy star

Arts & Culture

It is no secret that the way you were loved, or taught what love is, has lasting effects on the way you express it yourself. Well, let me tell you what growing up listening to Lana Del Rey and Mazzy Star did to my love language. It stripped me of what it feels like to love the innocent starstruck love songs. It opened my heart to what I think Hope Sandoval in Mazzy Star felt when she wrote the song "Fade Into You" about losing yourself completely in someone else’s shadow. Or what I think it feels like when Lana Del Rey said “I'm hoping at the gates, they'll tell me that you're mine.”

Love songs capture the excitement and rush of a relationship, and break-up songs act as a vessel for the listener to release the rage or pain that comes from the tragic love crimes committed by your partner. What felt different about the themes presented in Lana Del Rey and Mazzy Star’s music was the idea of feeling the depth and spiral of hurt that comes from loving someone unconditionally. These artists use their words to convey that love and pain often go hand in hand; With love often comes feelings of pain. Through their music, they explore the intricate and darker aspects of love, which encourages listeners to embrace their vulnerabilities that arise when loving someone deeply. This allows them to embrace their shadow self and express their emotions freely, even if it means being perceived as the "crazy girl" that men are so eagerly waiting to call you. Their music empowers listeners to channel their female rage or obsession without fearing that it will be used against them by men who may not understand these emotions.

When it comes to Mazzy Star, the music is ambiguous. Listeners may feel what Lana's music makes them feel only if they allow themselves to feel it. The parallel between the artists is how Lana Del Rey took these themes and ran with them. Some would say Mazzy Star walked so Lana Del Rey could run. She made explicit what Mazzy Star had to dilute. For example, Mazzy Star’s singer, Hope Sandoval sings the words "Everywhere you go I will follow, I know it won't be the same tomorrow.” She highlights the uncontrollable obsession that may come with love, even if the love is doomed. Lana Del Rey became what many critics like to call the scapegoat for women and took to the forefront this idea of not hiding your “craziness” just because the patriarchy makes you feel like you have to. Those who have always been a fan of Lana Del Rey know that she doesn’t mind being the example of what the patriarchy can do to a woman. She allows her music to be an outlet for women when they hit their breaking point and all that is left of their sanity is what their paramour accepts. Lana Del Rey sang, “Why wait for the best when I could have you?” Lana Del Rey is not telling her listeners to settle, and she is not shaming the listeners for having been in a relationship that may have not been what they deserve. Instead, she tells them that she understands why they wanted it.

Lana Del Rey’s lyric, “I'm tired of feeling like I'm fucking crazy. I'm tired of driving 'til I see stars in my eyes,” was the first time a lyric ever encapsulated, for me, the insane feeling of not understanding yourself or your actions when you are so deeply in love. Maybe it was because I have driven into the abyss scream-crying from a past lover feeling an ungodly amount of emotion until I saw stars. Maybe it was because I had felt insane that made me drawn to those two artists. But, there would be no better women to find during such a time in my life. What better coping mechanism than to harness that intense passion that you didn’t know was inside of you and feel it through. If feeling understood by Mazzy Star and Lana Del Rey’s music is a red flag, I would take it any day over never feeling understood by other pop writers.

This type of love is obviously a more complex love story than what we grow up being shown, and maybe that is why at my age I feel as though I have undergone very mature relationships for my age. Simple love songs might be easier to sell– maybe they’re safer to market or maybe as a society we reject anything that isn’t a highlight reel. But, I thank Mazzy Star and Lana Del Rey for helping me through such intense times and singing of the realness of a relationship instead of glorified or glossed-over love stories that are commonly perpetuated in the media.