“Her voice is full of money,” F. Scott Fitzgerald writes in one of the most likely candidates for the Great American Novel, The Great Gatsby, a classic line that Lana Del Rey has no doubt underlined at some point. It’s the effect her whispery voice and lavish orchestral hip-hop production appears calculated to evoke, though as with Gatsby’s Jay Gatz, her past as Lizzy Grant forever peeks out from behind her quasi-aristocratic surfaces. Unspared expense is also the takeaway of her melodramatic video for Born to Die‘s “National Anthem,” which, as promised, stars Lana and rapper A$AP Rocky as Jackie and John Kennedy, in a classic of the “no one knows what it means, but it’s provocative” genre.
At seven minutes and 40 seconds, the resulting clip is indeed longer than its longer-than-the-song-“National Anthem” trailer, but that’s largely because our Jackie also invokes Marilyn Monroe, money-breathily singing A$AP Rocky “Happy Birthday.” It isn’t clear whether she sings enough of this song to draw the wrath of the copyright lawyers, who of course also know a thing or two about dollars. From there, we see the duo enjoy the good life together, with beautiful children, before the inevitable, Zapruder-documented occurs.
“Money is the anthem, God you’re so handsome,” Del Rey sings, her wrist randomly tattooed with The X Files slogan “trust no one.” Robert Caro’s new biography of Lyndon Johnson, as excerpted by the New Yorker, contains a beautiful description of that fateful day in Dallas, which begins, “As the procession drove farther into the canyon, the noise swelled and deepened, becoming louder and louder, so that the motorcade was driving through a canyon of cheers.” Though deftly assembled by director Anthony Mandler, the emotional tenor of this clip is unavoidably cartoonish by comparison, bringing to mind the fact it was that old, unglamorous bastard LBJ — the cranky Texan responsible for so many deaths in the Vietnam War — who fulfilled Kennedy’s legacy by passing the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, and the rest of his Great Society program. Money is money is money is money.