Carmen (Lana Del Rey song)

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Lana Del Rey - Carmen (single cover).jpg
Promotional single by Lana Del Rey
from the album Born to Die
A-side "Blue Jeans"
Released January 26, 2012
Format Digital download
Recorded 2011
Genre Baroque pop
Length 4:08
Label Universal
Music video
"Carmen" on YouTube

"Carmen" is a song by American singer and songwriter Lana Del Rey, taken from her second studio album Born to Die (2012). It was released as a single on the iTunes Stores of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland on January 26, 2012 by Universal Music Group. A music video, directed by Del Rey, was released on April 21, 2012, during reviews for the album, "Carmen" garnered high acclaim from critics, most of whom praised the song's lyrics.

Background and composition[edit]

['Carmen'] is a song I can't say too much about because it's so close to my heart. It's the song on the record I relate to most closely. It's set partly in Coney Island, a place that's been important to me throughout my New York City career.
– Lana Del Rey on an interview for The Sun.[1]

"Carmen" was written by Del Rey and Justin Parker, and produced by Emile Haynie with additional production by Jeff Bhasker.[2] In an interview for The Sun, Del Rey revealed that the song was about "a doomed woman who sells her body on the streets" of Coney Island, which Del Rey viewed as an "important [place] to [her]" throughout her career in New York City.[1] Del Rey told Complex that the melody and the lyrics of "Carmen" "come together":[3]

"I was out really late and walking to the tempo of my own rhythm, and then I just started singing, 'Carmen, Carmen doesn’t have a problem lying to herself cause her liquor’s top shelf.' And it was an easy cadence. The whole thing just came, and I think I was in a really good place then, so it was like was really easy to channel."

Critical reception[edit]

"Carmen" was acclaimed by most critics for its ability to tell a story and haunt with its intense lyrics of the downside to fame. Noted as a cautionary hint of any downside to such a debauched lifestyle that Del Rey portrays on her album, Andy Gill of The Independent describes the song as a metaphor used by Del Rey for her "synthetic life experience."[4] Alex Denney of NME described the song as "a winner" with Del Rey’s richly suggestive tones conjuring the ghosts of Lauren Bacall’s classic femme-fatales.[5] While reviewing the album and describing the song as the point where "things start to pick up," John Capone of Prefix Magazine described the song as a "three-Xanax-and-gin-martini-cocktail broken-hearted baroque ballad."[6] Angela Okhumoya of Addictmusic showed appreciation for Del Rey's writing abilities on "Carmen" stating that it is "better than most of her contemporaries."[7] Dom Gourlay of Contactmusic gave the song a positive review, stating "You want hip-hop beats? Check. Radio friendly choruses? Check. Singalong verses for the hen party and karaoke masses? Check."[8] Rob Harvilla of Spin noted the song for its ability to "gently ascends/descends to Drake/Weeknd empty-hedonism poignancy."[9] Billboard called the song a "poor man's version of far-superior (and hookier) anthems like "Roxanne".[10]

Music video[edit]

On February 27, 2012, Del Rey revealed through her Facebook page that she just finished editing the music video for "Carmen".[11][unreliable source?] The singer premiered the music video on April 21, 2012, the video opens with Instagram-style snapshots of New York City, spliced together with scenes of old Hollywood paparazzi, a rose, and shots of Lana herself. Once the song begins, we see a dressed woman working a pole, then Lana on a city porch, the song goes on to feature black and white photo stills, animated food scenes, Lana riding the back of a motorcycle operated by the model Josh Rachlin and multiple references to drugs and troubled youth. In one scene, Lana is behind the camera interviewing Rachlin, asking him about his dream girl and giggling, the video ends with "Gymnopédie No.1.", by Erik Satie, and a woman dancing in a field until the word “fin” graces the screen.[citation needed]


Credits for "Carmen" are adapted from 7" liner notes of "Blue Jeans"[12]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download[13]
  1. "Carmen" - 4:08

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
Austria[14] January 26, 2012 Digital download Universal Music Group


  1. ^ a b Smart, Gordon. "'When I write songs, I stand under the telephone wires and take in their energy'". The Sun. Retrieved February 10, 2015.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ Born to Die (CD liner notes). Lana Del Rey. Interscope (US)/Polydor (UK). 2012. 
  3. ^ Droppo, Dana. "Against the Grain". Complex (August/September 2014). p. cover story. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  4. ^ Andy Gill (2012-01-27). "Album: Lana Del Rey, Born to Die (Interscope/Polydor) - Reviews - Music". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  5. ^ "NME Album Reviews - Lana Del Rey - 'Born To Die'". NME. IPC Media. 2012-02-03. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  6. ^ "Album Review: Lana Del Rey - Born to Die | Prefix". 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  7. ^ "Lana Del Rey – Born To Die | Album Review". Addict Music. 2012-02-20. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  8. ^ "Lana Del Rey | Born To Die Album Review". 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  9. ^ "Lana Del Rey, 'Born to Die' (Interscope)". Spin. Buzz Media. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  10. ^ "Lana Del Rey's 'Born To Die': Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. January 25, 2012. Archived from the original on July 4, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Finishing editing...". Facebook. 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  12. ^ "Blue Jeans" (7" liner notes). Lana Del Rey. Lana Del Rey, under exclusive license to Polydor (UK) and Interscope Records in the USA. 2012. 00602537003105. 
  13. ^ a b "Musik – Carmen – Single von Lana Del Rey". iTunes Store (DE). Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Musik – Carmen – Single von Lana Del Rey". iTunes Store (AT). Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Musik – Carmen – Single von Lana Del Rey". iTunes Store (CH). Archived from the original on May 30, 2014. 

External links[edit]