"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  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". Co-producer and co-writer Jack Antonoff tweeted on July 31, 2019 that "The Greatest" was his favorite song on Norman Fucking Rockwell!.
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 and an electric sitar 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.’”
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.
Music video[edit | edit source]
|Released||August 22, 2019|
|Producer||Justin Diener, Michael Angeles|
|Location||Long Beach, Los Angeles, California|
|Vevo views||13+ Million views|
Background and description[edit | edit source]
"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. 
- 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]
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]
- Lana Del Rey: The greatest - Music on Google Play
- Antonoff, Jack. (2019). "the greatest is my favorite nfr song just wait". Twitter. [Access date: August 15, 2019]
- Richards, Chris. (October 24, 2019). “Lana Del Rey isn’t trying to fool you.” The Washington Post. [Retrieved October 24, 2019]
- Pitchfork Media Inc. (October 7, 2019). "The 200 Best Songs of the 2010s". Pitchfork
- Lana Del Rey (@lanadelrey). "I think you’re gonna love the new double video I did with Rich Lee for two songs off the new record – ‘fuck it I love you!’ And ‘the greatest’". (July 26, 2019) Instagram. [Access date: August 26, 2019]