"West Coast" is a song by Lana Del Rey. It was written by Del Rey and Rick Nowels, and produced by Dan Auerbach. Taken from Del Rey's second major-label album Ultraviolence, the song served as the album's lead single and premiered on April 14, 2014 on BBC Radio 1. On April 22, 2014, an alternate version of the song with clearer vocals replaced the original single on iTunes. The official radio edit of the song features different vocals and a slightly altered instrumental.
Background and writing
On March 23, 2014, Del Rey posted a video on Instagram featuring her lip-syncing to a muted track. The video was uploaded with the caption "Down on the West Coast they got a sayin...". Following the leak of "Meet Me in the Pale Moonlight", Prefixmag encouraged their twitter followers to listen to the track, calling it a "B-side from 'Ultraviolence'". Del Rey replied to the tweet explaining "wrote that for someone else 4 years ago ...... New single is called West Coast", thereby officially announcing the title of her new single. Shortly after this she posted another picture to Instagram with the caption "West Coast".
Del Rey and Rick Nowels wrote the song together while improvising with chords in about 20 minutes, however when Del Rey had finished the song, she was unsatisfied with the outcome, complaining that the track was "too structured". The song was originally going to be scrapped from the album altogether, but after meeting with Dan Auerbach, the track was reworked, being changed structurally but leaving the chords.
"West Coast" is in F♯/G♭ minor set in common time and is notable for its tempo change in the chorus from approximately 123 beats per minute to 50. It is a surf rock song featuring heavily layered vocals, multiple guitar tracks, a focus on percussion and a prominent lead synth in the final chorus. Del Rey sings in a breathless, sultry style which is exaggerated in the chorus. The song marks a departure from Del Rey's singles from Born to Die and Paradise, as it does not draw upon the use of orchestral strings or stylistic hip-hop beats.
The radio mix is significantly shorter than the original, running at 3 minutes 47 seconds. It does not feature the slower chorus and instead has a constant BPM of 104. It features a light use of strings and slightly altered lyrics. There is no prominent lead synth towards the last chorus and the focus on the percussion is more drawn back. During the final chorus, the first half is stripped to only a distorted guitar and plucked strings for accompaniment.
The song has received universal acclaim from music critics, who commended its "atmospheric" and "hypnotic" production, as well as its maturity. Spin's Marc Hogan commented positively on the song, calling it "atmospheric".Cult Noise called the song a "vintage classic; soft around the edges, heartbreakingly beautiful and exquisitely composed" and awarded it a 9/10. MUUMUSE described the song as "revolutionary" and " entirely different from anything that’s being offered in pop music at the moment", awarding it 5/5. A Billboard staff writer wrote that while it was less "moody" than her previous work, "West Coast" sounds "decidedly like Del Rey – airy vocals drenched in reverb and other effects plus a chorus/breakdown that shows off her vulnerability. Writing for VH1's website, Meghan O'Keefe wrote before asking readers their thoughts on the single, "Del Rey’s newest single, “West Coast,” boasts the singer’s trademark combination of wistfully romantic lyrics and hypnotic beats, but it also signals a step forward."
- Original single version (4:15)
- Alternate single mix (4:16)
- Radio mix (3:47)
- Camo & Krooked Remix (3:33)
- Dan Heath Orchestral Remix (4:11)
- Four Tet Remix (6:11)
- Grades Remix (4:17)
- Solomun Remix (8:07)
- Solomun Remix Dub (8:07)
- Ten Ven Remix (4:31)
- William Carl Jr Remix (4:29)
|Released||May 7, 2014|
|Location||Los Angeles, California|
On April 4, 2014, pictures surfaced of Del Rey shooting a music video in Los Angeles. She was on set with "Born to Die" and "Blue Jeans" star Bradley Soileau. On May 1, 2014, Del Rey posted a preview of the video on Instagram. On May 6, 2014, an unfinished version of the music video for "West Coast" was uploaded and taken down by Del Rey's label. The next day, the finished video was published. Jenn Pelly and Evan Minsker of Pitchfork Media remarked that at first, it "appears to function in small, romantic gestures—hanging near an ocean, smoking in the back of a car, much like a fashion ad in a magazine. And then, plot twist: It's Lana in flames."
The video opens with shots of the ocean and driving in LA intercut with scenes of Del Rey and Soileau walking down a beach with friends. Del Rey starts singing as more images of LA are shown. As the chorus comes in, scenes of Del Rey and Soileau playing in the ocean fade into Del Rey in a car with tattoo artist Mark Mahoney. The shot is more glamorous and withheld, he lights her cigarette and Del Rey leans her head on his shoulder. He whispers something in her ear before the second verse where the film returns to Del Rey and Soileau on the beach in a much more casual setting. For the second chorus the scenes of Del Rey in the car with Mahoney return until a shots of Del Rey in flames appears. While in flames she wears either a red dress and or a leather jacket.