Andrew Goodwin Theory- Lana Del Rey- National Anthem

Lana Del Rey’s music video for her song ‘National Anthem’ doesn’t have a clear strong relation to any of the singular lyrics but instead to them as a whole and to the title of the song ‘National Anthem’. The video starts with 1:46 of prologue to the song in which Lana Del Rey sings happy birthday to the president, who is portrayed by rapper A$AP Rocky and then we see some disorientated footage of what looks to be J.F. Kennedys assassination and Lana Del Rey in some roses which symbolizes death. This again implies that rapper A$AP Rocky is portraying J.F Kennedy and Lana Del Rey is playing his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy. However the prologue suggests that Lana Del Rey is also Marylyn Monroe signing the exact infamous happy birthday that Marylyn Monroe sang on Kennedy’s birthday, with the exact same lighting and even the famous beauty spot that Marylyn Monroe had. This is the only time we see her being portrayed in the video, but it is about their love triangle which in a way is contradictory to the title of the song. The National Anthem is about America, and the leader of America (JFK) is meant to lead by example and not having an affair with arguably the biggest celebrity and sex symbol ever.

When the music finally starts its all Jacqueline Kennedy with J.F Kennedy, which may suggest that in the limelight (the music) he’s this big family person but when it’s off (i.e. the prologue) he’s not really the man he seems and is in fact having an affair.  Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy are an interracial couple in the video, which they aren’t in real life, I believe this to represent how today is and also to represent how big both Lana Dal Rey and A$AP Rocky are, and that they are in fact the two biggest stars today in America and how it isn’t all eyes on the president. Lana Del Rey and Jacqueline Kennedy are in fact very similar; they both come from very wealthy families and are considered fashion icons in a sophisticated way. However A$AP Rocky and J.F Kennedy have virtually nothing in common, in fact they nearly juxtapose each other, which again may represent today rather than the 1960’s. The video very rarely matches an exact lyrics, however it does a couple of times for example when A$AP Rocky salutes whens she signing ‘the national anthem’.

Andrew Goodwin’s theory that the record companies will demand a lot of close-ups (meat shots) of the main artist or vocalist spot on for this music video. In Lana Del Rey’s video there is only really shots of her, A$AP Rocky and a few of their ‘children’ in the video there isn’t really any other actors in the video, a few supporting ones are in a couple of shots, but they often out of focus or silhouettes, keeping the attention on the two main people in the video; A$AP Rocky and Lana Del Rey. However, A$AP Rocky hasn’t actually got anything to do with the song its self so it’s rather unusual that there’s quite as many close ups on him as there are but he is a vital part of the video.

Voyeurism is present right the way through this video, especially towards Lana Del Rey. There are many ‘male gazes’ on her, in whom the audience is put into the perspective of a heterosexual male. Laura Mulvey’s theory suggests that the male gaze relegates women to the status of objects; I don’t believe that the male gaze does that in the video. I believe that the male gaze is through J.F Kennedy’s eyes and therefore not seeing her as an object but in fact as a partner and his wife. I also believe that it gives Lana Del Rey a sense of power in the video, for example when Lana Del Rey comes out in her swimsuit, A$AP Rocky’s attention is elsewhere but when she comes out, all off attention is on her, which may imply that due to the male gaze she has power of his attention and ultimately him. However it may also be argued that because she has to use her body to get power over him, it does in fact make her an object rather than a woman and that she becomes bearer of meaning and not the maker of meaning


There is many cases off intertextuality in this video, in a way this whole video is intertextuality, the very start is Lana Del Rey as Marylyn Monroe which is incredibly famous, and is probably the most famous happy birthday song of all time. This is done to immediately distinguish who the two characters are. However it then proceeds to J.F.K’s assassination and Lana Del Rey and then cuts to them two outside what looks to be a summer house. Due to the intertextuality of J.F.K’s death it allows us to know instantly that Lana Del Rey is also portraying his wife Jacqueline, which would of probably been hard to guess if it wasn’t for this due to her playing Marylyn Monroe before it.

Andrew Goodwin’s theory that there is a relationship between the music and the visuals is applied to this video. This happens right the way through the video, when there is bass or the music speeds up it cuts in time with music. This is used to help create an even clearer link between the video and the music, without this the music video is in danger of just looking like a video being played over the music rather than a video being played for the music

Louis McCourt


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