Very few artists have the lasting cultural impact of Lana Del Rey, despite only releasing eight full studio albums since her debut in 2010. In fact, there’s a strong argument to be made that she is the most influential pop artist of the last decade.
8. Lana Del Ray (2012)
Starting off our list at the nethermost spot is Lana Del Ray’s debut album. This album was essentially a combination of the best tracks from Lana’s earlier independent releases and a few new recordings. The result was an unremarkable and relatively uninspiring project that failed to capture anything close to her full potential, both musically and lyrically. While there were a few highlights on this album (including “Yayo” and “From The End”), the vast majority of this album fell flat. However, it’s worth noting that Lana’s vocal performance on this album is nothing short of incredible and was a sign of the potential she had. She was a bit undeveloped as an artist on her debut, but it’s clear that she was talented enough to go on and create her masterpieces.
7. Honeymoon (2015)
On Lana’s fourth studio album, she begins to explore a more jazz-inspired sound. While I enjoyed the jazzier direction the album took, others felt it wasn’t as accessible or mainstream as they would have liked. Personally, I thought that this album had some of the best lyrics on any Lana project (especially “Art Deco” and “Religion”). The alienesque vibes in songs like “Burnt Norton” really added to her usual themes of love, obsession, beauty, the occult, and the darkness of fame. Namely, songs like “Salvatore” and “The Blackest Day” really brought the quality level down.
6. Ultraviolence (2014)
This album was released right when Lana started to break out into the mainstream, both in popularity and critical acclaim. With this project, it became clear that her sound was changing; gone were the days of Pop Radio hits like “Born to Die” and “Summertime Sadness.” Instead, she was opting for a much more Indie rock-influenced sound that emphasized her vocals over the instrumentation. While this album still has some of Lana’s best songs like “Brooklyn Baby,” “West Coast,” and “Shades of Cool,” it also has some of her worst, like “Cruel World” and “Ultraviolence.” That is definitely one of Lana’s darkest releases, both lyrically and thematically, which led to it receiving a Metascore of 81 on Metacritic.
5. Born to Die (2012)
Lana’s second studio album was one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2012, and with good reason. With singles like “Video Games” and “Born to Die,” Lana had already proven that she was a talented singer/songwriter with an incredible voice. However, this album still managed to surpass the hype and expectations by a huge margin. This project features some of Lana’s greatest songs like “Blue Jeans,” “Off to the Races,” and “National Anthem.” While I will admit that this album does have its fair share of weaker moments, namely “Carmen” and “Dark Paradise,” it is still a fantastic release. Also, there was something magical about Lana when she first appeared on the scene in 2012; with songs like “Radio” and “Million Dollar Man,” she seemed like the cool, mysterious girl in school: someone we all wanted to be friends with or date. Overall, this project is amazing, but it’s not quite as good as Lana’s later work; that being said, it still deserves a place in your music library.
4. Norman Fucking Rockwell! (2019)
Before its release, Lana Del Rey fans were extremely excited about this album, and with good reason. On Instagram, she alluded to the idea that it would be her “funniest” album yet. While it is not quite as good as Lust For Life, which was tough to beat given the incredible singles released before its release, this project is still fantastic and worth a listen. The title track, “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” is my favorite song of 2019 thus far and one of Lana’s best songs ever. This record is a must-listen with incredible tracks like NFR!, “Cherry”, and “Mariners Apartment Complex” backing it up.
3. Lust for Life (2017)
This album was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017. When the lead single “Love” was released in February, I was hooked immediately, knowing that this would be a great record. With collaborations with The Weeknd, A$AP Rocky, Stevie Nicks, and Sean Ono Lennon under her belt, it’s clear that this album was going to be great. While Lust for Life has some weak moments like “13 Beaches” and “White Mustang,” it more than makes up for its shortfalls with tracks like “Summer Bummer,” “God Bless America – And All the Beautiful Women In It”.
2. Paradise (2012)
Paradise might be the only Extended Play featured on this list, and for a good reason. Before her real studio albums, Lana recorded many songs for movies and TV shows, a lot of which were extremely underrated at the time. Many of these songs have been collected into an Extended Play titled “Paradise,” one of her best works to date. It features songs like “Ride,” “American,” and the title track, all of which are fantastic tracks. There aren’t any weak moments on this EP. That being said, it’s still one of Lana’s strongest releases.
1. Chemtrails Over the Country Club (2021)
The final release in this ranking is the upcoming Chemtrails Over The Country Club. The way Lana connects different songs on her albums is something I’ve always admired about her. On Chemtrails Over the Country Club, Lana connects songs from three different projects. For example, her singing about jewels on the title track connects with her cover of Joni Mitchell’s song, “For Free.”