“Gods and Monsters” is about Lana Del Rey’s experience with fame, Hollywood, Los Angeles, and reinvention. The lyrics focus on the high price of success in the music industry, a loss of innocence, and the corruption of ideals. In addition, this song manages to touch on how we sometimes embrace our fallen state to avoid feeling degraded.
Lana Del Rey has said little about the lyrical meaning directly. However, this song’s themes fit well within the “reinvention” period of Del Rey’s career. The Paradise EP, of which this song is a part, is based (as the name suggests) on the idea of losing and gaining purity and fulfillment. The biblical references in this song serve to complement this bigger theme and address Del Rey’s trajectory.
In this article, we’ll perform an analysis of these dark lyrics to discover their hidden meaning. We’ll also take a look at the story behind the song and the human themes that underlie the message. Without further ado, let’s get started!
The intro to the song repeats “L.A.” four times, which gives us a hint of the setting. Verse one gets right into it, although it’s more symbolic. The lyrics tell us we are in the “land of gods and monsters,” which can only be assumed to be Los Angeles. This title represents the stardom and seedy side of Hollywood – you might become a “god,” but you might also become a “monster.”
In the beginning, Del Ray was “an angel living in the garden of evil.” In other words, she originally had innocence even in a dark world. This began to shatter, and she became “screwed up… doing anything I [Del Rey] needed.” Her desperation led her to lose her original innocence, turning her into a “fiery beacon.” She burns, but people look at her.
The pre-chorus describes this corruption in more detail. It consists of “fame, liquor,” and “love.” She accepts this transformation like she would accept a romantic partner, asking him to “do it softly.” Del Rey is losing something, but she is beginning to embrace the loss.
Casually, she states that she and God “don’t get along.” Her figurative fall from Eden (paradise) has now happened, and she’s cut off from grace.
The chorus almost appears to be a tragically self-deprecating revelry. Instead of mourning her “innocence lost,” she treats it like a thrill. Del Rey is now excited to be “living like Jim Morrison,” who was notoriously wild. The “motel sprees” she’s engaging in have taken over as she sings, “this is Heaven, what I truly want.”
In verse two, the point is to contrast where she is now to where she was originally. Initially, she was an “angel,” now she is a “groupie incognito, posing as a real singer.” Essentially, she feels diminished and insincere, as if she is putting on an image. When she originally rebranded as Lana Del Rey, she did face backlash and was accused of using a persona, which may explain these sentiments.
By saying, “life imitates art,” Del Rey’s intention is to describe her own trajectory. By projecting the image of a successful artist, she became one.
The second pre-chorus is quite dark and focuses on her own denial of her transformation. She shoots up her “medicine” straight “to the heart” in order to numb it. She doesn’t “really want to know” what’s good for her because she knows it isn’t what she’s doing. The final blow is that she feels like “God is dead,” which she is actually fine with.
After another chorus, there is a bridge. It covers the same themes as the rest of the song but emphasizes the physical appearance element of her change. In order to showcase this, she asks, “If I get a little prettier, can I be your baby?” This reveals that her exterior and her interior have shifted – her original self has disappeared.
After this, the lyrics are repetitive. In summary, “Gods and Monsters” is about the negative aspects of Del Rey’s rise to fame. All of us can think of a time in our life when we felt ourselves getting lost, which is probably a big reason for the track’s success.
Although there is a popular misconception that Born to Die was Lana Del Ray’s debut LP, her career actually began much earlier. Previously, she had released music as May Jailer and Lizzy Grant, but with little success. It wasn’t until she rebranded herself as Lana Del Ray (to the chagrin of some fans) that her career really took off.
Reportedly, this rebranding was more than just a name change. Many accused Del Ray of using a “persona” – a charge she has consistently denied. Instead, Del Ray views it as an effort to make her life “a work of art.”
Of course, this had a negative side too. Fame never comes without a price, which is the subject of “Gods and Monsters.” This information helps give us an idea of Del Rey’s headspace at the time of writing.
“Gods and Monsters” was never released as a single, but we do know that both Born To Die and the Paradise EP did very well. The track is a beloved addition to fans, although critics could take it or leave it. Given the song’s YouTube views and downloads, it can only be called a success.
The next time you play this haunting tune, let these pieces of background information bring it to life.