Lana Del Rey’s ‘Shades Of Cool:’ A Masterclass In Smoldering Indie/Alternative Pop

Lana Del Rey’s ‘Shades Of Cool:’ A Masterclass In Smoldering Indie/Alternative Pop
I can say with complete certainty that there are no music artists that are doing it quite like Lana
Del Rey. As a fan since 2011, I can say with confidence that she has occupied a spot on my top three
favorite artists ever since I first heard her music. Her sound is unique, her voice is serene and ethereal,
and her discography is simultaneously ever shifting and consistent. From the trap/pop of ‘Born To Die’
to the old Hollywood film noir vibe of ‘Honeymoon’ to the slow burning torch-song sizzle of
‘Ultraviolence.’ The song I want to talk about today is off of the latter album. ‘Ultraviolence’ is widely
hailed as her best album by her fans. It is nearly impossible for me to declare what her best album is as
they are all too different to compare, but ‘Ultraviolence’ is definitely a heavy hitter. The song under
discussion is ‘Shades of Cool.’


The track opens with a slow and simmering melody via an electric guitar. The melody and tone
of the guitar immediately transport me to a California beache in the middle of the night. Lana’s voice
quickly joins the mix and sings of her love for a broken and complicated man whom she must share with
other women. The entire track feels like the end credits to an old black and white film. The verses of the
song are very moody and melancholy, but the song quickly ascends to the heavens as the chorus kicks
in. Lana’s voice rises to match the uplifting spirit of the music in the chorus. It boils over and then quiets
back down for the next verse. After the second chorus finishes, the bridge takes over and swells to new
heights with a scorching, slow-burning guitar solo that is mixed intoxicatingly with the other instruments
and Lana’s voice. There is a brief reprieve until the final chorus takes over and the song concludes. It is
one of my favourites on ‘Ultraviolence’ as it has a ton of character and emotion. The music itself is
flawlessly produced to fit the theme of the song. The song was produced by The Black Key’s
guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach. His touch can be felt all throughout the track. Especially during the
guitar solo, which is played by him. While the music is not complicated, it conveys the emotion and
feeling of the track perfectly. It has just the right amount of everything.


As stated above, the song is not too complicated as far as music composition is concerned. In my
opinion, some of the best music is simple and more about conveying the mood of the song rather than
showing off and distracting from the song as a whole. ‘Shades of Cool’ is a song with a lot of personalities
and leaves a ton of room for any aspiring guitarist to get creative.

If any of this piques your interest and you think that it might be fun to play on guitar, then ask your instructor, Will Chan, and he will be happy to assist.

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