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"Pretty When You Cry" is a song written and produced by Lana Del Rey and Blake Stranathan, with co-production by Lee Foster. It was released on Del Rey's second major-label studio album, Ultraviolence.

Background[]

In the thank you message at the end of the Ultraviolence booklet, Del Rey thanks her guitarist Blake Stranathan for his contribution to the song and explains he “set the tone for the whole album with "Cruel World" and "Pretty When You Cry". The recording of the song was improvised, Stranathan played chords while Del Rey sang the lyrics spontaneously. On the production of the track, Del Rey went on to say “I didn’t even think to go back and fix it because if you know the story behind it, then you can tell why it was sung that way.”[1] On June 21, 2014 she was asked by NPR about the song and went further about the composition of it, saying "The way you heard it recorded is the way I freestyled it. I made it up on the spot with my guitar player and left it as it was with that session drummer, and just called it a day on that song. Like the vocal inflection has its own narrative, it's not all lyric drive, it's just kind of moments in time that are meaningful to me left as they were, kind of untouched. The fact that I didn't go back and try to sing it better is really the story of that song, because that's sort of me revealing to you a facet of myself: I don't care that it's not perfect. That's why that song is more important in that way than what I'm actually saying" [4]

Despite doing the song in one cut, there are 9 outtakes registered on PPL Repertoire with various lengths from 7 seconds up to 2 minutes.[2] Little is known about them since they were not unreleased and remain unleaked. It has been rumored that there is no demo version of this song.

Composition[]

"Pretty When You Cry" is a rock ballad in 4/4 performed at approximately 110 beats per minute in B♭ minor and runs for 3 minutes and 54 seconds. The track opens with Del Rey accompanied by an electric guitar. In the pre-chorus vocal samples and drums join the track. In the final chorus Del Rey sings in a higher register than in the rest of the song. The song is simple structurally. Lyrically, the song is about a Del Rey's relationship with an unreliable man. Despite the title, Del Rey only sings "pretty when I cry".

Live performance(s)[]

On July 23, 2017, Del Rey sung a brief a cappella clip of the song along with a clip of "Body Electric" during her performance at Lollapalooza Paris in Paris, France. On October 24, 2017, Del Rey performed a longer clip of the song with her band at Terminal 5 in New York City, New York. The full song is part of the setlist for her 2018 LA to the Moon Tour, while performing the song on the tour Del Rey and her dancers lay down on the stage.

Music video[]

On June 16, 2014, Del Rey posted a short preview of a music video for "Pretty When You Cry" to Instagram, but the full video was never released or leaked.[3]

Cross-references[]

Official versions[]

  • Album version — 3:54
    • Instrumental version — 3:52
  • Clean version — 3:54
  • Outtake 1 — 0:07
  • Outtake 2 — 0:12
  • Outtake 3 — 0:15
  • Outtake 4 — 0:20
  • Outtake 5 — 0:30
  • Outtake 6 — 0:45
  • Outtake 7 — 1:00
  • Outtake 8 — 1:30
  • Outtake 9 — 2:00

Lyrics[]

All the pretty stars shine for you, my love
Am I that girl that you dream of?
All those little times you said that I'm your girl
You make me feel like your whole world

I'll wait for you, babe
That's all I do, babe
You don't come through, babe
You never do

Because I'm pretty when I cry (pretty when I cry)
I'm pretty when I cry
I'm pretty when I cry (pretty when I cry)
I'm pretty when I cry

All those special times I spent with you, my love
They don't mean shit compared to all your drugs
But I don't really mind, I've got much more than that
Like my memories, I don't need that

I'll wait for you, babe
You don't come through, babe
You never do, babe
That's just what you do

Because I'm pretty when I cry
I'm pretty when I cry
I'm pretty when I cry
I'm pretty when I cry

Don't say you need me when
You leave and you leave again
I'm stronger than all my men
Except for you

Don't say you need me if
You know that you're leaving
And I can't do it, I can't do it
But you do it well

'Cause I'm pretty when I cry
I'm pretty when I cry
Pretty when I cry
I'm pretty when I cry

Pretty when I cry
I'm pretty when I cry
I'm pretty when I cry
I'm pretty when I cry

Credits[]

Personnel

  • Lana Del Rey — vocals, songwriting, production
  • Blake Stranathan — songwriting, production, guitar
  • Lee Foster — production
  • Phil Joly — engineering
  • Brian Griffin — drums
  • Robert Orton — mixing
  • John Davis — mastering

Technical

  • Mixed at Hot Rock Studios
  • Mastered at Metropolis Studios, London

References[]

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