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The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Lana Del Rey’s Single “Watercolor Eyes” Anticipates a New “Ultraviolence” Era

Lana Del Rey’s Single “Watercolor Eyes” Anticipates a New “Ultraviolence” Era
PHOTO COURTESY/ YouTube cherry champagne

Singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey has released a new single called “Watercolor Eyes,” which appeared in the season two soundtrack of the HBO drama “Euphoria.” The mood and lyrics of this song perfectly fit the series. The song played during the credits of episode three, “Ruminations: Big and Little Bullys,” and the lyrics reference the main characters’ lives. Even the title “Watercolor Eyes” nods to “Euphoria’s” unique makeup aesthetic and colors. 

It takes only one listen to this song to get hooked. Del Rey’s flawlessly delicate vocals are enchanting as always, and the melody is a minor-key marvel. The resonance of the guitar instrumental reminds me of the bleeding colors of an actual watercolor painting. This song, musically, is very simple. But I think this was an excellent production choice because it allows the listener to focus on the lyrics and vocals, much like a black and white photo that brings attention to the image’s content instead of its colors.

“Watercolor Eyes” is a moody track, complete with reverb and melancholy lyricism. The song is reminiscent of Del Rey’s 2014 album “Ultraviolence,” a pioneering alternative record that reigned over “sad girl” Tumblr and paved the way for a similar brand of pop to gain popularity. Since then, Del Rey has ventured into a folkier pop with the release of her albums “Chemtrails over the Country Club” and “Blue Banisters.” As an “Ultraviolence” fan, I was thrilled when I heard the blues-rock influences in “Watercolor Eyes.” I’ve been bored with the abundance of folk songs released by Del Rey in recent years, so I hope this single foreshadows a new era of grungy rock ballads from the singer. In my opinion, this style suits her lyrical themes better than folk.

The first three lines of “Watercolor Eyes” reference the tumultuous relationships of the main characters in “Euphoria.” Del Rey sings:

Why you always doin’ that?

Breakin’ up with me, then makin’ up

Just to make me mad

These sentences align with the lives of “Euphoria” characters such as Maddy and Nate, who share an abusive, deceitful and jealous relationship, yet always go back to each other. The rest of the song describes this frustrating romance in poetic terms. Del Rey sings:

I think that you taste like rock candy

Sweet like beaches, leave me all sandy

Why do you leave me with watercolor eyes?

(…)

So what if you taste just like heaven?

That don’t make it right

Hot summer and cold watermelon

You love stings like blood and a lemon

These lyrics include a double entendre about drugs, a common theme in “Euphoria.” “Rock candy” is not just the sweet sugar crystals you buy at the candy store but also another term for meth. Del Rey’s simile is brilliant, as she uses a term that can mean something sweet and pure or something addictive and deadly to describe complex feelings about a relationship. I also love the blood and lemon simile. The imagery of lemon juice entering an open wound brings about a feeling of stinging pain and paints a picture of a sour, excruciating love. I believe this line also means that her lover makes her existing emotional wounds more painful as if they were squeezing citrus juice onto a bleeding cut.

Del Rey’s vocals in this track are truly unmatched. Her notes are spot-on yet charmingly imperfect with no signs of autotune, and her voice holds deep emotion. The emotion in a singer’s voice makes a huge difference in how a song sounds and feels, and Del Rey executed this aspect of “Watercolor Eyes” perfectly. She sounds pained, fed-up and deeply sad, emotions that accentuate this song’s meaning. 

I will have “Watercolor Eyes” on repeat for the next few weeks at least, and I can’t wait to see where this opportunity will take Del Rey. I’ve always believed that Del Rey’s talent for writing songs with cinematic themes—such as “Bel-Air,” “National Anthem” and, of course, “Young and Beautiful”—were going to waste. I hope she’ll continue to write music for film soundtracks. I highly recommend giving this new song a listen.

 “Watercolor Eyes” by Lana Del Rey is available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Youtube. 

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