Musical Musings Episode 1: ‘Blue Banisters’ by Lana Del Rey

by Arely Sun and Michelle Liu

This is the first installment of Musical Musings, a podcast where Aquila staff members review and discuss music albums. In this episode, Arely and Michelle share their thoughts on singer and songwriter Lana Del Rey’s latest album “Blue Banisters,” released Oct. 22.

Arely: Hello, welcome to “Musical Musings,” a podcast repeater where Aquila staff members discuss and review music albums. Today we’ll be discussing Lana Del Rey’s eighth album “Blue Banisters,” so let’s open with a sample of her titular track “Blue Banisters.”

“Blue Banisters” excerpt: “Jenny jumped into the pool, she was swimmin’ with Nikki Lane. She said, ‘Most men don’t want a woman with a legacy, it’s of age.’ She said, ‘You can’t be a muse and be happy, too.'”

Michelle: Hi everyone, I’m Michelle.

Arely: And I’m Arely.

Michelle: And today we’re going to be talking about Lana Del Rey’s latest album “Blue Banisters,” which was released on Oct. 22. Okay, to start off, do you want to talk about Lana getting the Variety Artist of the Decade award a few days ago?

Arely: Yeah, I thought that was really amazing because her music has been really great throughout her whole career. It’s one of a kind, and it has her special flair to everything.

Michelle: I think one of the things that’s most unique about Lana is how true to herself that she’s stayed through this whole decade from her first album “Born to Die.” I think it’s really great to see her finally getting the recognition that a lot of other artists might have gotten that she didn’t necessarily get initially because at first, she was definitely faced with a lot of criticism. Okay, let’s segue into “Blue Banisters.” Arely, what was your favorite track on the album?

Arely: For me, I have to say “Dealer.” I know a lot of people love this song as well.

“Dealer” excerpt: Why can’t you be good for something? Not one shirt off your back.

Arely: It’s really vulnerable and just so raw, and you can really feel the emotion in her voice.

Michelle: Yeah, I think I definitely have to agree with you too. I think you can definitely tell Lana wasn’t trying to cater to someone else’s expectations of her. It was just what she wanted to create. And then that’s what made it so beautiful and so real and emotional.

Arely: I feel like it’s somewhat different from her older albums, so you can definitely see there’s been a lot of evolution since her “Born to Die” days. Yeah, she was having this persona of like, a young woman in a dangerous city.

Michelle: Yeah, and I definitely think her music style has slowly evolved over time to like at the beginning, there are a lot more high notes and I think the songs are a lot faster paced.

Arely: Especially in her song “Radio” from “Born to Die.”

“Radio” excerpt: Pick me up and take me like a vitamin, ’cause my body’s sweet like sugar venom oh yeah, baby love me ’cause I’m playing on the radio.

Michelle: And now as she’s growing older, the songs themselves are getting slower and more mature. You could say it’s not like the same kind of mischievous, dangerous, young kind of energy that she was giving off in her earlier albums.

Arely: When she first released “Blue Banisters” and “Arcadia,” which were the singles from this album, I was very disappointed. They didn’t sound like her, and they just sounded really generic and something that any other artist could have released.

“Arcadia” excerpt: My body is a map of L.A. I stand straight like an angel, with a halo.

Michelle: Yeah, I think I definitely agree with you on that because I feel like especially “Arcadia,” it sounded so breathy — it sounded like she wasn’t experimenting as much as she would have normally. It sounded like she was maybe trying to make it sound like something beautiful but wasn’t pushing as far as she normally does.

Arely: I have to say this album is better than “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” (Lana’s seventh album, released in March). I mean, there were some nice tracks on that one, but I felt like she fell flat without one and this is her comeback.

Michelle: I think definitely on “Chemtrails,” there are a lot of songs that I’ve honestly forgotten about already because they don’t really stick in your mind as much — they don’t feel as real. But like Lana said herself, “Blue Banisters” was basically her own story. She’s basically telling the story of even just the past few years — like with the pandemic, it makes an appearance in the album. So it’s very topical, it’s very real.

Arely: Yeah, in one of her songs — I believe it was “Black Bathing Suit” — she sings “grenadine quarantine”

“Black Bathing Suit” excerpt: Grenadine quarantine, I like you a lot.

Arely: She also references being in a Target parking lot.

“Black Bathing Suit” excerpt: “Hey” on Zoom, Target parking lot.

Arely: Which is unusual for her because in the past, she’s made a lot of references to older culture.

Michelle: Like 60s, like Hollywood.

Arely: Like a kind of vintage vibe.

“Coachella – Woodstock in My Mind” excerpt: I guess I was in it, ’cause, baby, for a minute, it was Woodstock in my mind.

Arely: In “Blue Banisters” she’s a little more jaded with a deeper voice. And when she hits high notes, it’s more watery but desperate.

Michelle: I think definitely that one line from “Dealer,” like “I don’t wanna live.”

“Dealer” excerpt: I don’t wanna live.

Michelle: All the aspects of that line are what you just described.

Arely: Back to the album, another track I really liked was “If You Lie Down With Me” because there’s this part near the end where there’s some brass instruments, and it feels so nostalgic and rich.

“If You Lie Down With Me” excerpt: If you lie down right next to me.

Michelle: I think also in “Living Legend,” too, when she uses her voice to make the saxophone noises.

Arely: I saw a TikTok, actually, where it was like “Lana using her voice as an electric guitar.” I thought that was really funny

“Living Legend” excerpt

Michelle: At the same time, I think it adds a different element to the song. I think “Living Legend” is also one of my top favorites on the album because it’s just so real, like there was actually someone who was Lana’s “living legend” — she’s actually describing a real person. Do you want to talk about other top favorites or things that you did not like so much about the album?

Arely: Yeah I mean, “Arcadia” and “Blue Banisters” were flat. But I guess some of the other songs I thought were boring when I listened through like “Cherry Blossom” and “Sweet Carolina,” they’re actually quite nice if you think about the lyrics

“Cherry Blossom” excerpt: Little ghost, tall, tan like milk and honey. You’re very brave.

Michelle: I think “Cherry Blossom” grew on me. At first, I didn’t really like it, but now — I think that’s another aspect of her music, like even the music that she released 10 years ago, honestly, if she just released that yesterday, I would believe it. It seems like there’s so many layers to unpack, and her voice is so unique that slowly, every listen, you hear something new. Should we wrap it up with final thoughts?

Arely: Yeah!

Michelle: I think finally, I don’t want to give a number rating for now because I think I’ll definitely change it later, “Blue Banisters” is a “go listen to it right now” — you must listen to it. And “Dealer” is our top pick for you guys.

Arely: Thank you guys for listening to today’s episode of “Musical Musings.” And to outro, right now we’re going to listen to one of my personal favorites, which is “Thunder.”

“Thunder” excerpt: “You roll like thunder, pouring all your drinks. The party’s lit and you, my friend, half-cut when it begins. You roll like thunder, you’re tryna catch that wind.”