Lana Del Rey’s new single “Shades of Cool” is the perfect antidote to summer heat. It captures the moments typical of summer that aren’t present in the bold, primary-color advertisements for sunscreen or drinks or Memorial Day sales. These types of picture perfect and playful moments seem to be better suited to an upbeat Michael Jackson song such as “Love Never Felt So Good” or the ever-popular “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall & Oates. “Shades of Cool” captures somewhat different sensations: the colors of languid dusks and evenings, of nighttime driving on winding roads to secluded beaches, and of watching storybook moons become bright and clear as the heat fades away into cooler air and endless space. These are the moments when some of the best conversations are held, the best books are read, and the best skies are viewed. These are some of the most enjoyable moments of summer.
There’s a number of factors that lets Del Rey encapsulate this type of atmosphere. One of them is her ability to traverse both lower and higher pitch registers. This enables her to create two basic modes for this song: her verses are in mostly an E-flat minor key area with lower register pitches and are backed by minimal guitar and bass lines, simple drum fill, and possibly a celeste or marimba. This creates a mysterious, smoky atmosphere that can invoke uncertainty, sadness, and regret within the listener. Her chorus, on the other hand, is in a G-flat major mode and contains more upper register notes, which incite happiness and positivity in listeners. Part of the reason this song is so rewarding to listen to is because of the contrast between verse and chorus. We as listeners wait out the minor verses and are rewarded with the major chorus—some listeners even liken the rewarding feeling they get when hitting the transition into the chorus with flying or soaring sensations.
“Shades of Cool” is part of the soundtrack to this summer’s wicked times.