"Art Deco" is a song written by Lana Del Rey and Rick Nowels that is featured on Del Rey's third major-label full-length album Honeymoon, which was officially released worldwide on September 18, 2015.
Background and writing
Media platforms began speculating that the song was written about American rapper Azealia Banks, Del Rey dismissed the rumors in an interview with NME magazine and stated that it was definitely not true. She continued by saying "I have no idea where people got that from. I just don’t know what the correlation is". In reality, the song was written about a group of teenagers that go out every night, according to Del Rey herself.
Composition and critical reception
"Art Deco" is a ballad performed at a tempo of approximately 99 beats per minute and runs at 4 minutes and 55 seconds. The song features a "lazy trap beat" and trip-hop synths. Harley Brown of Spin Magazine described Del Rey's voice on the track as "the most inviting it’s ever been even as it floats to loftier, more dismissive registers above foggy film noir saxophone curls". Nick Levine of Time Out Magazine noted a "dash of jazz" on the song.
Del Rey has never performed the song in full. She sang an a cappella snippet of it on November 20, 2016 at Corona Capital in Mexico City, Mexico by audience request. The song's first verse and chorus was performed a cappella again on February 11, 2018 in Austin, Texas during the LA to the Moon Tour.
- The "downtown scene" is also mentioned in "Salvatore", "So Legit" and "Dum Dum".
- A crazy person and a party are mentioned in "Cruel World".
- The "why?" lyric found throughout the chorus has been sampled from "Born to Die" and is again reused in "Cherry".
- Del Rey calls someone "ghetto" in "Ghetto Baby".
- In "Art Deco", Del Rey paints a picture of a "young thing on the downtown scene" who likes to "stay out late", party and act "crazy all the time". She painted a similar picture in her first album, "Born to Die", through the songs "Carmen" and "This Is What Makes Us Girls". The lyrics "a little party never hurt no one, that's why it's alright" are similar from the lyrics in "Carmen" that go "lying to herself cause her liquor's top shelf", they are both about deluding yourself that you're okay when you aren't.
- A reference to rap also appears in "Salvatore".
- "Born to Be Wild" is a famous song from the band Steppenwolf featured in the 1969 movie "Easy Rider" which is a movie referenced in other songs such as "Freak" and "Angels Forever, Forever Angels".
- "A little party never hurt no one" is most likely a reference to the quote "A little party never killed nobody" from the 1925 book "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The artistic movement "Art Deco" was born during the Roaring Twenties (1920s) in which the setting of when the book "The Great Gatsby" takes place.
- Album version — 4:55
- Instrumental version — 4:58
- Lana Del Rey – vocals, songwriting, production
- Rick Nowels – songwriting, production, pads, mellotron, bass
- Kieron Menzies – production, engineering, recording, mixing, drums, percussion, synth
- Patrick Warren – orchestrations, strings, piano, synth
- Trevor Yasuda – engineering, additional recording
- Chris Garcia – engineering, additional recording
- Adam Ayan – mastering
- Leon Michels – saxophone, Juno pad
- Derek "DJA" Allen – percussion