"National Anthem" (originally titled "I Want it All") is a song written by Lana Del Rey, Justin Parker, Penny Foster and The Nexus and produced by Emile Haynie and Jeff Bhasker. It served as the fifth single from Del Rey's first major-label studio album Born to Die. It was officially released as a single on July 6, 2012.
- 1 Writing and inspiration
- 2 Composition
- 3 Critical reception
- 4 Music videos
- 5 Cross-references
- 6 Official versions
- 7 Lyrics
- 8 Commercial release
- 9 Official remixes
- 10 Promotional releases
- 11 Credits
- 12 References
Writing and inspiration
Lyrically the track deals with a hedonistic and melodramatic love story with Del Rey commanding her lover to pledge allegiance to her. It is similar in themes to the unreleased track "Children of the Bad Revolution", and is possibly about J.
"National Anthem" has been described as an alternative hip hop or trip hop track. Del Rey's vocals on the track employ a rapping-like technique, similar to that in the Born to Die tracks, "Off to the Races" and "Diet Mountain Dew". The song opens with a strings section including firework sound effects before introducing more hip hop inspired beats. It is in the key of C minor with a tempo of 85 BPM. Del Rey's vocal range spans from G3 to Bb4. The song focuses on the spoken hook of "Money is the anthem of success." The verses rhyme scheme focuses on rhymes and half rhymes of "anthem" including "ransom", "standin'" and "landed". The song uses male background vocals of a spoken line from a live performance of "Mary Jane" by Rick James, also used in "Blue Jeans", "Lolita", "Dark Paradise" and "Without You". Two demos of the song exist, an album demo which features a gospel choir in the chorus, produced by Haynie, and a demo by production duo, The Nexus - which is notably more tailored towards the pop genre.
ME praised certain elements of the track, saying: "As she sings of a relationship of a well-heeled man and a blank canvas woman, she invokes not only the dreamland of the monied classes (The Hamptons) and their could-be motto 'Money is the anthem of success' but also invokes the spectre of Vietnam with a reference to 'The Queen Of Saigon'." The track was praised for having a: "laconic, anaesthetised vocal that conjures up images of her swigging from a bottle of Hendricks. There's a deep sadness underneath the sweeping string section and gangster hip-hop beats, but it's the chorus's fleeting glimpse of euphoria that'll keep you coming back."
|Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)||40|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||92|
|US Hot Rock Songs (Billboard)||37|
Homemade music video
|Released||June 22, 2012 (leaked)|
|Director||Lana Del Rey|
|Producer||Lana Del Rey|
Background and description
The original video was much in the style of Del Rey's other homemade clips such as "Lolita" and "On Our Way". It featured the album demo of the "National Anthem". It consisted of various film and TV clips such as shots of a Bugatti Veyron and of Elvis and Priscilla Presley's wedding. These shots are interspersed with Del Rey in the Las Vegas hotel, The Wynn, in a blue dress dancing and lipsyncing to the track. In the same setting Del Rey also wears a dark blue jacket. There are occasional clips of Del Rey in a dark wig with large sunglasses on. It is thought to have been recorded in 2011 and leaked in 2012.
Behind the scenes
Official music video
|Released||June 27, 2012|
|Producer||Lana Del Rey|
|Vevo views||66+ Million views|
Background and description
The official music video was premiered by Noisey on June 27, 2012, and on September 5, 2012 it was posted to Del Rey's Vevo channel. The video was directed by Anthony Mandler in May of the same year. It features previous musical collaborator and rapper ASAP Rocky as her love interest, rather than Bradley Soileau who featured in her previous two videos.
The video begins with Del Rey portraying Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" to Rocky, who portrays John F. Kennedy. After this introduction, Del Rey takes on the persona of Jacqueline Kennedy, and the video adopts a home-movie style depicting the Kennedy's life. The clip ends with a re-enactment of JFK's assassination as Del Rey reads a multi-layered narrative treatment exploring Jacqueline Kennedy's love for her husband. On the death scene, Mandler explained "What you're used to seeing with the Zapruder film, is this very kind of violent, destructive act; I didn't want to go anywhere near that. It was never about re-creating a death scene, it was always about the person sitting next to him." Mandler and Del Rey intended for the video to be about loss and destruction rather than accurately interpreting history.
The treatment for the video was written by Del Rey with ASAP Rocky in mind. Del Rey described the video saying "definitely the most beautiful thing I've ever done." It was met with generally favorable reviews and was nominated at the 2012 UK Music Video Awards for Best Pop Video - International and Best Styling in a Video. In 2018, the video placed #51 on Rolling Stone's '100 Greatest Music Videos of the 21st Century' list, adding "All of Lana Del Rey’s music videos are cinematic -- it’s kind of her thing -- but “National Anthem” has a movie-quality plot to boot."
On-set photoshoot by Naomi Shon and Chuck Grant
Behind the scenes
|2012||UK Music Video Awards||Best Pop Video - International||Nominated|||
|Best Styling in a Video||Nominated|
|2013||Xbox Entertainment Awards||Best Music Video||Nominated|||
|MTV Video Music Awards||Best Art Direction||Nominated|||
- "Take your body downtown" is a lyric also found in "Video Games".
- A party dress is mentioned in "St. Tropez", "American" and "Smarty", among many other songs.
- Del Rey mentions singing the national anthem in "Mermaid Motel".
- The phrase "Queen of Saigon" also appears in "West Coast" and "Live or Die".
- The line "wind in my hair" also appears in "Burning Desire" and "The Blackest Day".
- The phrase "heaven's in your eyes" may be inspired by the line "heaven in her eye" from John Milton's poem "Paradise Lost" which was later used in Tropico.
- The use of red, white and blue is also present in "Axl Rose Husband" and "Scarface".
- The phrase "want the things that love can't buy" in the "I Want It All" demo might be a reference to "tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can't buy" from the song "Can't Buy Me Love" by The Beatles.
- Del Rey also sings about her lover's pants being off in "Oooh Baby".
- A mention about a lover putting their hands on Del Rey is also found in "You & Me", "Oooh Baby" and "Burning Desire".
- A party dress is also mentioned in "Hundred Dollar Bill" and "Cruel World".
- The phase "standing ovation" used in the "I Want It All" demo also appears in the demo for "Freak".
- "The Hamptons" is an exclusive and expensive area of Long Island for rich families. It is speculated this place was where John F. Kennedy would take Marilyn Monroe when they had an affair.
- Diamonds are mentioned in several Del Rey songs, such as "Body Electric", "Money Power Glory", "Fine China", "Fake Diamond", "Young and Beautiful" and the demo version of "Diet Mountain Dew", among others.
Multiple versions of the song exist including the album version, the video version, and various demos. An edited version was released as promo in Europe and is based on the album version. "National Anthem (Demo 1)" leaked on November 6, 2011, preceding the song's official release on Born to Die. "National Anthem (Demo 2)" leaked on June 9, 2012.
The song was also previously titled "I Want it All" in 2010. Three demos of the song exist under this name. There is said to have been three versions of this demo. "I Want it All (Demo 2)" leaked in full on April 17, 2017, while "I Want it All (Demo 1)" leaked on January 31, 2020. "I Want it All (Demo 3)" has yet to leak. All versions of this demo were produced by The Nexus.
- Album version — 3:51
- Radio edit — 3:39
- Music video version (with monologue and introduction) — 7:49
- Instrumental version — 3:50
- I Want it All (Demo 1) — 3:48
- I Want it All (Demo 2) — 3:46
- I Want it All (Demo 3) — Unknown
- National Anthem (Demo 1 or "The Nexus Demo") — 3:32
- National Anthem (Demo 2) – 3:24
- Paradise Tour version — 4:42
National Anthem (Demo 1)
National Anthem (Demo 2)
"I Want it All" demos
"National Anthem" was released as a digital EP in Ireland on June 6, 2012, and in the UK on June 8, 2012. On June 9, 2012 it was released as a 7" picture disc vinyl in the UK. It charted at 37 on Billboard's US Rock Songs chart, 40 on Belgium's Ultratip Flanders chart, 92 on the United Kingdom's Official Chart Company chart and 152 on France's SNEP chart.
- United Kingdom (3710053)
Format: 7" picture disc vinyl in plastic sleeve
Released: 9 June, 2012
Photography: Naomi Shon
|2.||"National Anthem" (Breton Labs Remix)||5:23|
- National Anthem (Remixes) - EP
Released: 6 June, 2012
Photography: Naomi Shon
|2.||"National Anthem" (Fred Falke Remix Edit)||3:46|
|3.||"National Anthem" (Tensnake Remix)||3:43|
|4.||"National Anthem" (Afterlife Remix)||3:58|
- Afterlife Remix — 3:48
- bretonLABS Remix — 4:04
- Burns' SFTCR Remix — 4:00
- Das Racist Remix — 3:51
- DC Breaks Remix — 4:07
- Fred Falke Remix Edit — 3:46
- Seasfire Remix — 4:29
- Sega Bodega Remix — 5:01
- Sunless 97' Remix (money is the anthem / neck - up refix) — 3:09
- Tensnake Remix — 3:43
- Todd Terry Dub Remix — 5:07
- Todd Terry Radio Remix — 3:50
National Anthem CD by Polydor and Interscope Records in UK
National Anthem 7" Picture Vinyl by Polydor in UK & Europe
National Anthem CD by Polydor in Europe
- Lana Del Rey — vocals, songwriting
- Justin Parker — songwriting
- The Nexus — songwriting, vocal production
- Emile Haynie — production, drums, keyboards
- Jeff Bhasker — production assistance, additional keyboards, guitar
- Dan Heath — strings arrangement, strings conductor
- James Bauer-Mein, David Sneddon, Emilie Bauer-Mein — backing vocals
- Larry Gold — strings arrangement, strings conductor
- Steve Tirpak — strings assistance
- Manny Marroquin — mixing
- Erik Madrid & Chris Galland — mixing assistance
- John Davis — mastering
- Published by BMG Chrysalis / EMI
- Mastered at Metropolis Mastering, London, United Kingdom
- HFA Song code: N50605
- ISRC Code: T9126568976
- ASCAP demo credits
- Billboard Staff (July 24, 2018). "The 100 Greatest Music Videos of the 21st Century: Critics' Picks". Billboard.