Lana Del Rey has always been singular among her own musical peer group, but fans have known for years now that Lana has one defining factor that makes her catalogue far more unique. One thing that her brand new single, Say Yes To Heaven, has made abundantly clear.
Lana's unreleased tracks represent both a huge, vast and un-charted body of work but also, chiefly, most of these unreleased tracks both equal (and in many cases, actually surpass) the songs she's officially released.
For too many years, this has been a curio of Lana's discography; if you want to get to the really good stuff, you have to go digging. But this could all be about to change, thanks to the near unparalleled success Say Yes To Heaven is currently having on the Official Singles Chart.
Originally written and recorded for inclusion on Lana's 2014 magnum opus Ultraviolence, the aching and acoustic-laden Say Yes To Heaven fits in very will Lana's early career oeuvre; it's a maudlin, slightly orchestral lament for the man in her life, with lyrical references to Lana putting her trusty old little red dress on, and a heavy smattering of religious iconography (in this case, Lana and her love being compared to the ultimate paradise).
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But Say Yes To Heaven - despite missing out on tracklisting placements on the aforementioned Ultraviolence, as well as follow-up records Honeymoon and Lust For Life - was released from the vault, thanks in large part to a leaked demo going viral on social media, especially TikTok. And the wise decision from Lana and her team is already paying off; Say Yes To Heaven, bolstered by its streaming numbers, is heading for a Top 10 debut on the Official Singles Chart. If it retains its position throughout the week, it will be Lana's first solo Top 10 hit since Born To Die in 2012 (as a collaborator, she hit Number 4 last year on Taylor Swift's Snow on the Beach).
The vaults of Del Rey have been one of pop's worst kept secrets. It's well known that Lana is, above all, a prolific worker; famously, she released two albums in 2021 alone. Both of those records (Chemtrails Over The Country Club and Blue Banisters) were beefed up in large part by songs previously abandoned for other LPs, but re-produced and sometimes re-written entirely from their original form, like Dealer (originally a duet with the Last Shadow Puppets aka Miles Kane & Alex Turner) and Yosemite (which could have been a part of both Lust For Life or Norman F*cking Rockwell!).
Up until now, some fans' only hope of hearing their favourite Lana songs officially has been if she fancies picking up a discarded demo and reworking it for her new project, but Lana Del Rey albums are always an ever-evolving, nebulous body of work. For every track picked to appear on a record, there are dozens on dozens that haven't made the cut. And the quality of these discards is alarmingly high; like we said, most of Lana's unreleased material, when it's firing on all cylinders, matches or eclipses the songs she's actually put out into the world.
For years now, these abandoned songs have just been easter eggs to discover for the most devoted of Lana fans, but now that Say Yes To Heaven is actually proving more successful than any of Lana's recent singles - you have to go all the way back to 2014's grunge rock kiss-off West Coast to find the last time a solo Lana track entered the UK Top 40 - perhaps the time has come for Lana to finally open the vaults.
And we're not just saying that because we want to hear the material (although, let's be honest, we definitely do) but because we do genuinely think that a lot of Say Yes To Heaven's success comes from how commercial its appeal is, compared to recent Lana material.
Yes, she did just gain her sixth UK Number 1 album with Did you know that there's a tunnel...but it would take a braver man than I to argue that that album was Lana's Big Pop Girl moment. With each successive release since Lust For Life, Lana's been slowly stripping back the artifice from her work, her songs now are more akin to folk than they are to the dark, orchestral pop of her debut era (although her recent LP did see her experiment with trap beats again, which hopefully isn't a thrilling one-off).
Because the fact remains that a large swathe of Lana's best unreleased material comes from the halcyon days of 2010-2014, around the time she started recording Born To Die up until sessions for Ultraviolence ended. As such, these songs still retain a pop sensibility in both their melody and production, which is why Say Yes To Heaven's melisma chorus is blowing up on TikTok.
If Lana really does want to take this moment by the horns - she's just gained her most monthly listeners on Spotify at 44 million - then an entire album of unreleased tracks could represent the best of both worlds; not forsaking the playlist and viral support she's seen over the last week, while also giving her the space to write and record brand-new material in any which way she wants.
And what songs would be include on this unreleased album? There are, honestly, too many to count and each fan has their own hallowed list of favourite Lana tracks, but for our money, she'd do well to include 2010 cut Go Go Dancer (by and far the most pop-leaning song she's ever cut), the disco-adjacent Meet Me In The Pale Moonlight (which also went extremely viral on TikTok in lockdown), doo-wop confection Queen of Disaster and the far more propulsive demo of Born To Die track National Anthem, which still sounds like the biggest hit Lana has never released.
Whether she does pop open the vaults to feed the children, Say Yes To Heaven's success point to one thing and one thing only; that the majesty of Lana Del Rey can never be underestimated. She has, and always will be, an artist in an entire lane of her own.
Article Image: Neil Krug