Summer in Paradise, 2013

Defining Albums Series: Part 1

Summer in Paradise, 2013

For me, growing up in Danville, Virginia has been both a blessing and a curse, I suppose. When I tell people here at school where I’m from, their reactions often range from a look of confusion (because they don’t know where it is) or a cringe (because they do). Quite frankly, I don’t blame them. Danville came be overwhelmingly boring, and the general population is full of racist and homophobic tendencies. Yet sometimes when I’m at school with people who aren’t from Danville or anywhere close, I ache for people who have a love/hate relationship with their small Southern towns. Stay with me, though, this is just background for the real story, you feel me?

Danville, VA (courtesy of Danville, VA (courtesy of

There’s always been something so romantic to me about summer time. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t go anywhere besides my part-time job or occasional lunch with friends (heh). But in all seriousness, music is such a fundamental part of my being in the summer, when it’s just quality alone time at home. I have the opportunity then to appreciate a new album or discover new music that I never would have thought to listen to before. In the summer of 2013, (before I even had my part-time job, so you know I was really lonely,) the EP that personally defined that time was Lana Del Rey’s Paradise. I was already semi-infatuated with Lana from her Born to Die album, so Paradise was really exciting for me. The EP came out at the end of 2012 but what hooked me in was Rey’s featured song in the May 2013 The Great Gatsby soundtrack, “Young and Beautiful.” I was in love with that song! That scene! Those glamorous concepts!

I already knew I loved Lana’s voice, but that summer Lana was everything I needed – everything that I immersed myself in, every single song necessary for me to cope with living a small town life. I still hear “Ride” and want to get into a sports car and sit on the back without a seatbelt with my hands in the air (not recommended). I still listen to “Off to the Races” (which was technically from the Born to Die: The Paradise Edition which came out at the same time as the EP,) and feel like I’m on the run with my non-existent fiance. There’s something about Lana’s dreamy voice that makes me want to get on a plane and live out the celebrity, bougie Hollywood lifestyle I was born for!

courtesy of

Written by Nakia Stephens

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