The only thing better than a new album from one of your favorite artists is a peak into the creative process that brought it into fruition. The Unreleased Collection by Lana Del Rey goes above and beyond that glimmer: it is a full-out explanation, with alternative versions, what-if’s and how-come’s.
Only available via Dropbox or scarcely on several unofficial Soundcloud profiles, the Unreleased Collection is 183 songs of pure Lana Del Rey magnificence.
Some of the songs were written before her major label signing in 2012, according to a Wiki Fan page dedicated to the Lake Placid-raised singer. Others simply never made it to the final versions of her released albums: Born to Die, Paradise, Ultraviolence or Honeymoon.
Most of the tracks have a jazzier vibe than what fans who have only heard on the radio will be used to. Songs like “Hollywood’s Dead,” “JFK” and “Summer Wine” have an old nostalgic feel of the jazz-era that she either references or samples in her released works.
In terms of both lyrics and sound, Del Rey shows hints of the artists she’ll become in a few years — hold the more commercial, pop-style crossover apply.
Lyrics like, “Hollywood’s dead/ Elvis is crying/ Marilyn’s sad/ Hendrix is lying there” from “Hollywood’s Dead” foreshadow “Elvis is my daddy, Marilyn’s my mother, Jesus is my bestest friend./ We don’t need nobody/ ‘Cause we got each other, Or at least I pretend,” from Born to Die’s “Body Electric.”
A stand-out song is “Put the Radio On,” which has the quintessential seductive-pop sound that Lana De Rey is synonymous with today.
However, what’s more interesting than seeing hints of who Del Rey was going to channel in her mainstream career are the tracks that seem to be a completely different person: the Lizzy Grant and May Jailer alter egos of Del Rey’s past.
In track 158 “Stop Lite De-Lite” shows off a more experimental side of Del Rey, using mechanical sounds in synthesis with a strong bass line and a violin. According to the Wiki page, it was written in 2009 and not intended for any particular album.
“Summer of Sam” gets Del Rey to rap, something that’s never been seen in her Universal Music Group-backed tracks. The only thread in this song is the reference to the past, stereotypical of all Del Rey eras.
“Like the summer of Sam, back in ’69/ I’d be heavily, betterly, on the grind/ Cause to sing this nice, is the beat of crime/ I’ve been murdering, I’m murdering ’em,” are the opening lyrics rapped to a quick, yet attitude-filled beat.
One of my favorite tracks is “Get Drunk,” which is a super-stripped-down song that more than anything showcases the sweetness of Del Rey’s voice. Something I think can be forgotten in her more popular songs.
Her delinquency — or rather didactic attitude toward it — is a theme in her early songs, like “This Is What Makes Us Girls” from Born to Die, but her raw talent doesn’t have the same opportunity to shine through.
The Unreleased Album, all 183 tracks worth, is more than just another album, more than just oldies. It’s a look into the creative process that is so often allusive and secretive, and one that not only shows how an album was created but an artist.