Lana Del Rey
Writer(s) Lana Del Rey
Jack Antonoff
Producer(s) Jack Antonoff
Lana Del Rey
Released August 22, 2019
Recorded 2018–2019
Length 5:00
From Nfrlogo.png
Single(s) "Mariners Apartment Complex"
"Venice Bitch"
"Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman like Me to Have – but I Have It"
"Doin' Time"
"The Greatest" / "Fuck It I Love You"
Singles chronology
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"Fuck It I Love You"


"The Greatest"

Don't call me angel cover.jpg

"Don't Call Me Angel"

Norman Fucking Rockwell track listing
"The Next Best American Record "Bartender"

"The Greatest" (stylized in sentence case) is a song by Lana Del Rey for her sixth studio album, Norman Fucking Rockwell!. It was accidentally uploaded to Google Play on August 15, 2019 and was removed hours later [1] and officially released as a single on August 22, 2019.

Background[edit | edit source]

On July 26, 2019, Del Rey announced the song via Instagram along with "Fuck It I Love You".[2] Co-producer and co-writer Jack Antonoff tweeted on July 31, 2019 that "The Greatest" was his favorite song on Norman Fucking Rockwell!.[3]

Composition[edit | edit source]

"The Greatest" is a surf rock torch song with a total running time of 5 minutes, playing at approximately 80 beats per minute in the key of D minor. The track opens with guitars before Del Rey begins the first verse accompanied by piano. As the song progresses to the first chorus, vocal harmonies, drums, guitars and strings are introduced to the instrumentation. A drum break then leads the song into a 30 second electric guitar solo. The second verse returns to stripped back instrumentation, with a piano, single guitar and light drums before returning to the full instrumentation in the second chorus. The outro features Del Rey singing multiple harmonies over guitar and piano which slowly draw the song to a close.

Writing and inspiration[edit | edit source]

The lyrics make multiple references to various musicians and songs, including The Beach Boys' "Kokomo", David Bowie's "Life on Mars" and Kanye West. The song focuses on Del Rey lamenting how she misses a former flame in California, her old friends in New York and her previously uncomplicated life. It also brings in themes of worldwide political unrest, Millennial and Generation Z culture, and the 2019 California wildfires which are featured in the background of the Norman Fucking Rockwell! album cover.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Del Rey commented on the lyric "Dennis' last stop before Kokomo" - “I literally went on a date [in Marina del Rey], and this dude was trying to impress me and was like, ‘This was Dennis’s last stop before he hit his head on the dock.’”[4]

Critical reception[edit | edit source]

After the songs release, "The Greatest" placed #79 on Pitchfork's '200 Best Songs of the 2010s' list during October, 2019.[5]

Music video[edit | edit source]

Music video Information
Lana_Del_Rey_-_Fuck_It_I_Love_You_&_The_Greatest_(Official_Video) Released August 22, 2019
Length 9:19
Director Rich Lee
Producer Justin Diener, Michael Angeles
Filmed July, 2019
Location Long Beach, Los Angeles, California
Vevo views 10+ Million views

Background and description[edit | edit source]

Del Rey confirmed that the music video was directed by Rich Lee and that it is a double music video with "Fuck It I Love You" on July 26, 2019.[6] It premiered August 22, 2019.

"The Greatest" part of the video begins with Del Rey walking throughout a Long Beach terminal and sailing a boat. Interpolated are shots of herself bartending, singing at the bar and playing billiards.

On-set photoshoot by Chuck Grant, Pamela Cochrane and Rich Lee[edit source]

Behind the scenes[edit source]

Cross-references[edit | edit source]

  • The Beach Boys are also mentioned in "My Song 57" and the song of the same name.
    • The phrase "Dennis's last stop before Kokomo" references the death of the Beach Boys member Dennis Wilson and the band's song "Kokomo".
  • The phrase "Life on Mars ain't just a song" is a direct reference to David Bowie's song "Life on Mars".
  • California, New York, and rock and roll music have all been recurring themes throughout Del Rey's career.
  • Lana also mentions feeling "burned out" in "Run Motorcycle".
  • The phrase "the greatest" also appears in "Fordham Road".
  • Long Beach is also mentioned in the poem "Past the Bushes Cypress Thriving".
  • "The fall" is also mentioned in "Money Power Glory".
  • Del Rey referring to the culture as "lit" is similar to the line "the party's lit" from Thunder.
  • L.A. being in flames is a reference to the several wildfires in California. It's also a direct reference to the poem "The Land of 1000 Fires".
  • When talking about the line "me and my friends we miss rock and roll" Del Rey stated she was refering to bands like Kings of Lions, The Strokes and The White Stripes. [6]
  • The line "Kanye West is blond and gone" is a reference to her open disappointment about Kanye supporting president Donald Trump.

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

I miss Long Beach and I miss you, babe
I miss dancing with you the most of all
I miss the bar where the Beach Boys would go
Dennis' last stop before "Kokomo"

Those nights were on fire
We couldn't get higher
We didn't know that we had it all
But nobody warns you before the fall

And I'm wasted
Don't leave, I just need a wake-up call
I'm facing the greatest
The greatest loss of them all
The culture is lit and I had a ball
I guess I'm signing off after all

I miss New York and I miss the music
Me and my friends, we miss rock and roll
I want you to feel just like you used to
When, baby, I was doing nothing the most of all

The culture is lit and if this is it, I had a ball
I guess that I'm burned out after all

I'm wasted
Don't leave, I just need a wake-up call
I'm facing the greatest
The greatest loss of them all
The culture is lit and I had a ball
But I guess that I'm burned out after all

If this is it, I'm signing off
Miss doing nothing the most of all
Hawaii just missed a fireball
L.A.'s in flames, it's getting hot
Kanye West is blond and gone
"Life on Mars" ain't just a song
Oh, the livestream's almost on

Credits[edit | edit source]

  • Lana Del Rey — songwriting, production, vocals
  • Jack Antonoff — songwriting, production, engineering, mixing, programming, acoustic guitar, drums, electric guitar, keyboards, piano
  • Laura Sisk — engineering, mixing
  • Tate McDowell — assistant engineering
  • Jonathan Sher — assistant engineering
  • Evan Smith — flute, saxophones
  • Phillip Peterson — cello
  • Victoria Parker — violin
  • Chris Gehringer — mastering
  • Will Quinnell — assistant mastering
  • Mastered at Sterling Sound
  • Recorded at Conway Recording Studios, Los Angeles, United States / Henson Recording Studios, Los Angeles, United States / House of Breaking Glass, Seattle, United States
  • Mixed at Conway Recording Studios, Los Angeles, United States

References[edit | edit source]

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