Ultraviolence (album)

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Ultraviolence
A black and white photo of a fair-skinned, dark-haired woman wearing a sheer white V-neck T-Shirt and a white strapless bra, standing beside a car. Her hand is resting on the opened left car door and the word "Ultraviolence", stylized in all capital letters, is placed on the lower part of the picture.
Studio album by Lana Del Rey
Released June 13, 2014 (2014-06-13)
Recorded 2013–14
Studio
Genre
Length 51:24
Label
Producer
Lana Del Rey chronology
Tropico
(2013)Tropico2013
Ultraviolence
(2014)
Honeymoon
(2015)Honeymoon2015
Alternative cover
Urban Outfitters exclusive vinyl cover
Urban Outfitters exclusive vinyl cover
Singles from Ultraviolence
  1. "West Coast"
    Released: April 14, 2014
  2. "Shades of Cool"
    Released: May 26, 2014
  3. "Ultraviolence"
    Released: June 4, 2014
  4. "Brooklyn Baby"
    Released: June 8, 2014
  5. "Black Beauty"
    Released: December 15, 2014

Ultraviolence is the third studio album and second major-label record by American singer and songwriter Lana Del Rey, released on June 13, 2014 by UMG Recordings. Despite originally dismissing the possibility of releasing another record after her major-label debut Born to Die (2012), Del Rey began planning its follow-up in 2013. Production continued into 2014, at which time she heavily collaborated with Dan Auerbach to revamp what she initially considered to be the completed record, the project saw additional contributions from producers including Paul Epworth, Greg Kurstin, Daniel Heath, and Rick Nowels.

Ultraviolence received positive reviews from contemporary music critics, who commended its cohesion as a concept album, compared to her previous albums, and its overall production. It has also been noted as an improvement from Del Rey's debut album Born to Die, it debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 182,000 copies, becoming Del Rey's first number-one album on the chart and the best-selling debut week of her career. Ultraviolence was preceded by the digital release of five singles, the top 20 hit "West Coast", "Shades of Cool", "Ultraviolence", "Brooklyn Baby" and "Black Beauty". On December 1, 2014, she announced The Endless Summer Tour featuring shows with Courtney Love and Grimes, to support the album.

Ultraviolence has sold 1,200,000 copies worldwide as of December 2014.[5]

Background and production[edit]

After the release of Born to Die in 2012, Del Rey dismissed the idea of releasing another album, because she had "already said everything [she] wanted to say".[6] However, by February 2013, Del Rey had started work on an album saying, "It's a little more stripped down but still cinematic and dark. I've been working on it really slowly but I love everything I've done. I've been writing in Santa Monica and I know what the record sounds like. Now I just have to finish it. Musically I've worked with the same three guys",[7] she mentioned that one of the songs off the album would be called "Black Beauty".[7] When the demo version leaked in July, Del Rey stated "I do feel discouraged, yeah. I don't really know what to put on the record, but I guess I could just put them on and see what happens. Each time I write... I'll never write a song if I don't think it's going to be perfect for the record",[8] she also stated that she was writing "low-key and stripped back" songs and was working with Dan Heath, her boyfriend Barrie-James O'Neill and that she wanted to work with Lou Reed.[8]

In October, Del Rey said about the prospect of a new album, "When people ask me about it, I just have to be honest—I really don't know. I don't want to say, 'Yeah, definitely—the next one's better than this one', because I don't really hear a next one. My muse is very fickle, she only comes to me sometimes, which is annoying".[9][10]

By January 2014, Del Rey and Dan Auerbach were rumored to be working together at Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound recording studio in Nashville, Tennessee and he was said to be producing her upcoming album.[11]

Del Rey and Auerbach were initially scheduled to work together for three days but ended up spending two weeks on recording a full album, on February 20, Del Rey posted a picture of herself and Auerbach on Twitter with the caption: "Me and Dan Auerbach are excited to present you Ultraviolence".[12] About working with Del Rey, Auerbach later said: "She impressed me every day. There were moments when she was fighting me. I could sense that maybe she didn't want to have anybody think she wasn't in control because I'm sure it's really hard to be a woman in the music business. So we bumped heads a little bit, but at the end of the day we were dancing to the songs",[13] the artist stated that the album draws inspiration from the West Coast, as well as from Brooklyn, New York. In addition, it also features heavy guitars and jazz tones. Del Rey also stated that the inclusion of Auerbach was last-minute, the two had met in New York City when she believed that the record was finished.[14] On the release of Ultraviolence, she reaffirmed her earlier reluctance to make another album, saying "I mean, I still feel that way, but with this album I felt less like I had to chronicle my journeys and more like I could just recount snippets in my recent past that felt exhilarating to me".[6]

Content[edit]

The sound of Ultraviolence was characterized as psychedelic rock, dream pop, desert rock with some elements of blues rock, soft rock and indie rock.[2][15][16][17]

The first song on the album, "Cruel World," is a six minute and thirty-nine second breakup song, with 70's-style rock guitars and reverb, it is Del Rey's favorite album track.[18]

"Shades of Cool" was described by Consequence of Sound as "a slow and slightly gloomy ballad marked by reverberated guitars, slight atmospherics, and Del Rey's vocals that alternate between a hushed whisper and ephemeral wailing".[19] The song consists of "a chiming guitar, slow-burn bass line, and swelling orchestra" which surround Del Rey's vocals.[20] Del Rey said that she wrote "Brooklyn Baby" with Lou Reed in mind, she was supposed to work with him and flew to New York City to meet him, but he died the day she arrived.[6] He is referenced in the line "And my boyfriend's in a band/He plays guitar while I sing Lou Reed";[21] in the title track, "Ultraviolence", Del Rey directly references The Crystals' "He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)" in the chorus, which she had also heard a rendition of by Hole.[22]

"West Coast" is a mid-tempo song with a psychedelic rock and soft rock verse and a surf rock slow-tempo chorus.[23][24] Musically, its composition is built around reggae drum fills, blues-influenced guitar riffs, and draws influences from indie rock music.[25][26]

"Sad Girl" was written about being "the other woman" in an affair. Del Rey wrote "Money Power Glory" as a reaction to her rise to fame. About writing it, she says, "I was in more of a sardonic mood. Like, if all that I was actually going to be allowed to have by the media was money, loads of money, then fuck it... What I actually wanted was something quiet and simple: a writer's community and respect".[6]

"Fucked My Way Up To the Top" was written about an undisclosed female singer who, at first, mocked her for her supposedly unauthentic style, but then "stole and copied it" and became successful with it.[27] Asked about the meaning of the song, Del Rey said "It's commentary, like, "I know what you think of me", and I'm alluding to that. You know, I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry, but none of them helped me get my record deals. Which is annoying".[28]

Release and promotion[edit]

During the premiere of her short film Tropico on December 4, 2013, Del Rey explained to the audience that "I really just wanted us all to be together so I could try and visually close out my chapter [of her second studio album Born to Die (2012) and third extended play Paradise (2012)] before I release the new record, Ultraviolence".[29] Journalists identified the phrase from Anthony Burgess' dystopian novella A Clockwork Orange (1962), although initial reports were conflicting as to whether or not the title would be stylized as the one-word "Ultraviolence" or two-word "Ultra Violence";[30] in February 2014, she mentioned the possibility of releasing the record on May 1,[31] although during her concert in Montreal on May 5 stated that the project would be released the following month.[32]

On May 8, Del Rey announced the track listings for the 11-track standard version and 14-track deluxe version of Ultraviolence,[33] its black-and-white album artwork depicts Del Rey dressed in a sheer white T-shirt and a white strapless bra while leaning against her Mercedes-Benz 380SL; the title "Ultraviolence" is positioned beneath her image in an all-capitalized typeface, similar to the covers for Born to Die and Paradise.[34] The artwork was unveiled on May 14, along with the confirmation that the record itself would be released on June 17 in the United States,[35] it was made available through the traditional CD, digital download, and vinyl formats, and was additionally distributed in a multi-piece box set; it covers the title "Ultraviolence" in black foil, includes the deluxe record on compact disc and on a two-piece vinyl collection, and is packaged with four photo art cards.[36] Clothing retailer Urban Outfitters offers an exclusive vinyl version of the standard version of Ultraviolence, and features an alternate cover which depicts a close-up of Del Rey's knee in torn jeans as she holds a loose strand of fabric from the torn denim.[37]

Del Rey premiered "West Coast" as part of her set at the Coachella music festival on April 13, 2014.[38] "West Coast" was serviced as Ultraviolence's lead single the next day.[39] Its music video was released on May 7 and directed by Vincent Haycock.[40] "Shades of Cool" was released as the second single on May 26.[41] A music video was directed by Jake Nava and released on June 17,[42] the third single and title track, "Ultraviolence", was released on June 4 and was followed by the fourth single, "Brooklyn Baby", four days later.[43][44] The German release of a remixes extended play for "Black Beauty" by Vertigo Berlin was announced for November 21, 2014.[45]

Prior to the album release, Del Rey announced a North American concert tour, as well as performances at several European festivals.[46][47] Del Rey received attention for taking a "less is more" approach to promoting the album, she did not promote the album with television performances or interviews, instead relying on a couple of print interviews, music videos, and social media.[48] In September, she first cancelled two private concerts for Virgin Radio in Paris, and then the remaining dates of her European tour for medical reasons.[49] Del Rey resumed her tour in the beginning of October with a set at the Austin City Limits Music Festival and headlined gigs in Mexico City and Monterrey between October 6 and 9 and at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on October 17 and 18.[50] Del Rey announced her 2015 Endless Summer Tour on December 1, 2014, which she headlined with punk vocalist Courtney Love, former frontwoman of alternative rock band Hole.[51] Del Rey released the Ultraviolence music video, produced by then boyfriend Francesco Carrozzini, in August 2014.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[52]
Billboard 4/5 stars[53]
Clash 7/10[54]
Consequence of Sound A[55]
Entertainment Weekly A[56]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[57]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[58]
Pitchfork 7.1/10[59]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[60]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars [61]

Ultraviolence received positive reviews from contemporary critics. Pitchfork's Mark Richardson said that Ultraviolence was a concept album "from a Concept Human", referring to Del Rey's assumed persona, he felt that the album was "gorgeous and rich", and much more cohesive than the earlier Born to Die.[59] According to Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album holds a score of 74/100 based on 35 reviews—indicating "generally favorable reviews"—following its release.[62] The Guardian writer Alexis Petridis wrote that "Every chorus clicks, the melodies are uniformly beautiful, and they soar and swoop, the better to demonstrate Del Rey's increased confidence in her voice. It's all so well done that the fact that the whole album proceeds at the same, somnambulant pace scarcely matters".[57] Tony Clayton-Lea of The Irish Times noted, "What seems certain is that whatever she really is, or whatever she does in her chosen milieu, Del Ray [sic] is the best at it".[63] Mike Diver for Clash Music commented, "For all its lows-inspired highs, Ultraviolence is not quite the complete picture, it goes so far as to reflect, albeit perhaps coincidentally, this era: black and white, the colour has to come from the performance, not the film it's captured on". The critic gave a bottom line for Del Rey—"A bruised beauty, just short of classic status...".[54] At the The Independent the album scored 3 out of 5 and critic Hugh Montgomery felt, "Ultraviolence is more of the same, but less. There is quasi-transgressive mixture of hopeless passivity and coquettish sexuality running through songs".[64]

Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly wrote about Del Rey's aesthetic, stating, "Kubrick would have loved Del Rey—a highly stylized vixen who romanticizes fatalism to near-pornographic levels, creating fantastically decadent moments of film-noir melodrama. It's an aesthetic that demands total commitment from both artist and listener, and it would be difficult to buy into if she didn't deliver such fully realized cinema", he also added, "Ultraviolence masterfully melds those elements, and completes the redemption narrative of a singer whose breakout-to-backlash arc on 2012's Born to Die made her a cautionary tale of music-industry hype". Caryn Ganz for Rolling Stone gave a positive review, commenting the album "is a melancholy crawl through doomed romance, incorrigible addictions, blown American dreams," although she also wrote " [it] wraps desire, violence and sadness into a tight bundle that Del Rey doesn't always seem sure how to unpack".[60] Regardless of the 3 1/2 star rating, Rolling Stone named it the seventh best album of 2014 and third best pop album in its annual compilations. Justin Charity of Complex magazine noted, "Ultraviolence is a blues affair, with moody innuendo spilling bloody and bold as the opening sequence to a vintage Bond saga", the critic also called it 'intimate', 'drunk driven'.[65] Alexandra Molotkow, writing in the Globe and Mail, praised the album as "more vivid, nuanced and ripe than [her debut], Born to Die."[66]

Accolades[edit]

Critic/Publication List Rank Ref.
Dazed and Confused The Top 20 Albums of 2014 3 [67]
Entertainment Weekly 10 Best Albums of 2014 4 [68]
Roberts, RandallRandall Roberts from Los Angeles Times Best Pop Albums of 2014 Unranked [69]
Roberts, RandallRandall Roberts from San Jose Mercury News Top 10 Albums of 2014 10 [70]
Gorilla vs. Bear Gorilla vs. Bear's Albums of 2014 10 [71]
Tucker, KenKen Tucker from NPR Top 9 Albums of 2014 4 [72]
Billboard The 14 Best Pop Albums of 2014 14 [73]
Reed, JamesJames Reed from The Boston Globe Best Albums of 2014 1 [74]
Cosmopolitan 20 Best Albums of 2014 7 [75]
Digital Spy Top 15 Albums of 2014 14 [76]
Mojo 50 Best Albums of 2014 40 [77]
NME NME's Top 50 Albums of 2014 25 [78]
Rolling Stone 50 Best Albums of 2014 7 [79]
Slant Magazine The 25 Best Albums of 2014 3 [80]
Spin The 20 Best Pop Albums of 2014 5 [81]
Stereogum The 50 Best Albums of 2014 12 [82]
Time Top 10 Best Albums of 2014 6 [83]

According to Metacritic, Ultraviolence was 13th most frequently mentioned album in critics "year-end" lists in 2014.[84]

Commercial performance[edit]

On June 18, 2014, Billboard estimated that Ultraviolence would sell approximately 175-180,000 copies during the first week of its release in the United States,[85] the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with sales of 182,000, making it Del Rey's first number-one album in the U.S. and responsible for a career-best sales week.[48] After two weeks, Ultraviolence sold over 220,000 copies in the U.S.;[86] at the time of release, it held the record for the largest album sales debut by a female artist in 2014.[48] The album went on to sell over 31,800 vinyl copies in the U.S., making it the eighth best-selling vinyl album in the U.S. in 2014.[87] Overall, Ultraviolence debuted at number one in twelve countries,[88] including the United Kingdom, making it her second consecutive number-one album, following Born to Die. Ultraviolence was certified gold in Canada on June 25, 2014.[89] The album sold over 880,000 copies worldwide in its first week, and 1 million copies worldwide within a month of release;[90] in August 2014, the album was certified gold in both the U.K. and Australia.[91][92] In February 2015, the album was certified Gold in U.S. for shipments of over 500,000 units.

Track listing[edit]

Ultraviolence – Standard edition
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Cruel World"
Dan Auerbach 6:39
2. "Ultraviolence"
  • Del Rey
  • Daniel Heath
Auerbach 4:11
3. "Shades of Cool"
Auerbach 5:43
4. "Brooklyn Baby"
  • Del Rey
  • Barrie O'Neill
Auerbach 5:53
5. "West Coast"
  • Del Rey
  • Nowels
Auerbach 4:25
6. "Sad Girl"
  • Del Rey
  • Nowels
  • Auerbach
  • Nowels[a]
5:17
7. "Pretty When You Cry"
  • Del Rey
  • Stranathan
  • Del Rey
  • Stranathan
  • Lee Foster
3:54
8. "Money Power Glory"
Kurstin 4:30
9. "Fucked My Way Up to the Top"
  • Del Rey
  • Heath
Auerbach 3:32
10. "Old Money"
  • Del Rey
  • Heath
  • Robbie Fitzsimmons
Heath 4:31
11. "The Other Woman" Jessie Mae Robinson Auerbach 3:01
Total length: 51:24

Sample Credits

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies a vocal producer

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Ultraviolence.[99]

Performance credits
  • Lana Del Reyvocals (all tracks); background vocals (tracks 2, 5)
  • Dan Auerbach – background vocals (track 14)
  • Seth Kauffman – background vocals (tracks 4, 14)
  • Alfreda McCrary Lee – background vocals (track 2)
  • Ann McCrary – background vocals (track 2)
  • Regina McCrary – background vocals (track 2)
Instruments
Technical and production
  • Dan Auerbach – production (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 14); mixing (tracks 2, 14)
  • Julian Burg – additional engineering (track 8)
  • Vira Byramji – assistant engineer (track 13)
  • John Davis – mastering (all tracks)
  • Lana Del Rey – production (tracks 7, 13)
  • Collin Dupuis – engineering (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 14); mixing (tracks 2, 14)
  • Paul Epworth – production (track 12)
  • Lee Foster – production (tracks 7, 13)
  • Milton Gutiérrez – engineering (track 10)
  • Daniel Heath – production, arrangement (track 10)
  • Phil Joly – engineering (track 7); tracking engineer, mixing (track 13)
  • Greg Kurstin – production, mixing (track 8)
  • Neil Krug – photography
  • Mat Maitlanddesign
  • Matthew McGaughey – orchestration (track 10)
  • Kieron Menzies – vocal engineering (tracks 6, 12)
  • Rick Nowels – vocal production (tracks 6, 12); production (track 13)
  • Alex Pasco – additional engineering (track 8)
  • Robert Orton – mixing (tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12)
  • Myan Soffia – additional photography
  • Blake Stranathan – production (track 6)
  • Matt Wiggins – engineering (track 12)
  • Andy Zisakis – assistant engineer (track 10)

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[148] Gold 35,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[149] Gold 7,500*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[150] Platinum 40,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[151] Gold 40,000^
France (SNEP)[152] Platinum 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[153] Gold 100,000^
Italy (FIMI)[154] Gold 25,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[155] Gold 30,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[156] Platinum 20,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[157] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[158] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Edition Format(s) Label
Germany[159][160][161] June 13, 2014
  • Standard
  • deluxe
  • super deluxe
Universal Music
Netherlands[162][163]
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Polydor
Switzerland[164] Universal Music
France[165][166] June 16, 2014
  • Standard
  • deluxe
  • super deluxe
United Kingdom[167]
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Polydor
Italy[168]
  • Standard
  • deluxe
  • super deluxe
Canada[169] June 17, 2014
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Universal Music
Mexico[170]
  • Deluxe
  • CD
  • digital download
Interscope
Spain[171]
  • Standard
  • deluxe
  • super deluxe
  • CD
  • LP
  • digital download
Universal Music
United States[172]
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Interscope
Japan[173] June 18, 2014
China[174] August 28, 2014 Deluxe CD Universal Music China

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Preceded by
Lazaretto by Jack White
Billboard 200 number-one album
July 5–12, 2014
Succeeded by
X by Ed Sheeran