"Big Eyes" is an Academy Award and Golden Globe Awards nominated song by Lana Del Rey featured on the soundtrack of the movie Big Eyes. It was co-written with Dan Heath who also served as the track's producer. The song was kept a secret until the film was screened for insiders in early November 2014.
According to one of the film's producers and co-writers, Larry Karaszewski, "Tim [Burton] showed [Lana Del Rey] the film and she fell in love with it. Women, in particular, seem to get the movie, and Lana really got the movie. The whole thing is about a woman who can't find her voice [and when the song first plays in the movie] it almost becomes a musical. Lana's song expresses what Margaret is feeling so perfectly, it's like a soliloquy of her inner thoughts."
According to producer, Dan Heath, the song's hook came to Del Rey upon seeing the film for the first time. Then he recorded it on a little voice memo and built the music underneath what she had sung. According to him, they wanted to give the song a "cinematic and lush feel" as well as describing their intentions with the song as "magical, not too heavy but not too light, and quite moving". When talking in-depth about the song's portrayal of Margaret Keane's feelings in the film, he stated the song was "a nice mix between somber, sad and introspectiveness, into a big sort of triumphant, half-angry chorus." Heath recalls they went through a few different versions of the song before presenting it to Tim Burton, who loved the track, suggesting that there are multiple unreleased versions of the song. A demo version containing additional vocals and minor production differences leaked on January 24, 2021.
The song was not originally meant to be played during the film but rather during the credits, however, the song was deemed too sad to end the film with and producers noticed it fit perfectly over two near dialogue-free scenes, which originally contained music by scorer Danny Elfman. Karaszewski later said the track was "a centerpiece number" in the film. Because the track was no longer being used in the credits, Del Rey worked with Rick Nowels to write another song, "I Can Fly" for the outro of the film.
On December 1, 2014, a 1-minute snippet of the track was released to Yahoo! Movies with an accompanying lyric video featuring scenes from the film. The track was leaked from the official Weinstein Company website on December 3, 2014, with "I Can Fly". The track's official audio was released on Del Rey's Vevo YouTube channel with "I Can Fly" on December 19, 2014. In early 2020, "Big Eyes" and "I Can Fly" had been removed from Apple Music and Spotify in several countries, however the reason for this removal is unclear.
In Big Eyes
The Hollywood Reporter describes the song's use in the film by saying "The number begins as an instrumental when [Amy] Adams spots her paintings being sold in a supermarket, then turns to a vocal piece with a big, pronounced beat as the character returns home determined to develop a new style of painting; it slips back out of the vocals as Christoph Waltz’s character returns and confronts his artistically straying spouse."
Billboard's Chris Payne wrote that Del Rey's "vocal theatrics and some harrowingly haunting string-laden production draw us in". Esther Zuckerman of Entertainment Weekly said the title track "delivers on its Del Rey-ian promise with a dramatic, retro flair".
"Big Eyes" was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Original Song on December 13, 2014, with final nominees, announced on January 15, 2015, failing to earn a nomination. On December 11, 2014, the song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards. On December 15, 2014, it received a nomination for Best Song at the 20th Critics' Choice Awards, which took place on January 15, 2015.
- Big, or wide, eyes are also referenced in "Cola" and "I Can Fly".
- "Creeping around" is also mentioned in "Sad Girl".
- Hot weather during the summer is also referenced on "Shades of Cool", "Heroin", "Salvatore" and "Young and Beautiful".
- Released version — 4:43
- Demo version — 4:41
- Lana Del Rey — songwriting, vocals
- Dan Heath — songwriting, production
- Robert Orton — mixing
- Hungarian Studio Orchestra — orchestra
- Balazs Bujtor — concertmaster
- Peter Illenyi — conductor
- Sandor M. Jozsa — orchestra contractor
- Gergely Kiss — manager
- Tamas Kurina — engineering
- Reuben Cohen — mastering
- Laws, Zach (January 7, 2015). Dan Heath on working with Lana Del Rey for ‘Big Eyes’ title song [Exclusive Video]. Gold Derby. [Access date: May 22, 2022]
- LanaDelReyVEVO (December 19, 2014). Lana Del Rey - Big Eyes (Official Audio). YouTube. [Retrieved: February 24, 2016]
- Willman, Chris (November 18, 2014). 'Big Eyes': The Story Behind Lana Del Rey's Stunning Secret Songs. The Hollywood Reporter. [Retrieved: November 19, 2014]
- Payne, Chris (December 3, 2014). Lana Del Rey Shares 'Big Eyes' & 'I Can Fly' From New Tim Burton Film. Billboard. [Accessed: February 24, 2016]
- Zuckerman, Esther (December 1, 2014). Listen to Lana Del Rey's title song for 'Big Eyes'. Entertainment Weekly. [Accessed: February 26, 2018]
- Kay, Jeremy (December 12, 2014). Academy selects 79 eligible songs. Screen Daily. [Access date: February 22, 2016]
- Vincent, Alice (February 22, 2015). Oscars 2015: nominations in full. The Telegraph. [Access date: February 24, 2016]
- Moraski, Lauren (December 11, 2014). Golden Globes 2015 nominations announced. CBS News. [Access date: February 24, 2016]
- Morales, Wilson (December 15, 2014). Selma, Top Five Among 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Nominees. Blackfilm. [Access date: February 24, 2016]