"Summertime Sadness" is a song by American singer and songwriter Lana Del Rey from her second studio album, Born to Die. The trip hop ballad was released on June 22, 2012 by Interscope Records as the fourth single of the album. Charting across Europe, the single reached the top ten in Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. In the spring of 2013, "Summertime Sadness" reached number one in Poland and Ukraine. Trap and house remixes of "Summertime Sadness" helped Del Rey break into the US Hot Dance Club Songs chart. That chart is where Del Rey's song became a modest hit and marked her first foray into the chart. On the accompanied Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart, the single gave Del Rey her first US number-one single in August 2013. Earlier in 2012, the song also managed to become a rock hit in the US.
In the summer of 2013, a remixed version of the track by Cedric Gervais was released to American contemporary hit radio and helped the single become a sleeper hit, debuting it at 72 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the highest charting single of her career in that country with a peak of 6. Switzerland and Austria gave "Summertime Sadness" a gold certification; it reached platinum status in Germany and became a top forty year-end hit. The record also reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart. It joined BBC Radio 1's and BBC Radio 2's playlists. Gervais' remixed version won a 2014 Grammy Award for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical.
The song's accompanying music video depicts Del Rey and actress Jaime King as a couple. As the storyline progresses, both characters commit suicide by jumping from perilous heights. Cinematography was handled primarily by King's husband, Kyle Newman. The video gained success on video-hosting website YouTube, and circulated through social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. In general, critics lauded the artistry of the single's music video, comparing it to Instagram. The musical arrangement was composed by Del Rey's long-time collaborators Emile Haynie and Rick Nowels, with Nowels and Del Rey writing the lyrics. The song is also referenced in The Chainsmokers' hit single "Selfie".
"Summertime Sadness" was released as a digital download on June 22, 2012 in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Written by Lana Del Rey and her long-time collaborator, Rick Nowels, the record was produced by Nowels and Emile Haynie. "Summertime Sadness" is a trip hop ballad. Various club remixes of the song were created, including one by Ryan Hemsworth. Spin said Hemsworth's trap remix, "teases us with a little stoney dubwise bubble, and then dunks the entire thing into a glistening pool of purple promethazine goo. The only sharp sounds come from the barrage of skittering beats, plus some space lasers and the like." "Summertime Sadness"'s Adam Freeland remix employed house beats and strong synthesizers that creates a "dazzling dance floor production."
The song's video focuses around a lesbian couple reminiscing on positive moments, before both inevitably commit suicide. Pop Dust writer Nate Jones compared the introductory lyrics, "I got my red dress on tonight/ Dancing in the dark in the pale moonlight" to "Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen, affirming that the song's inherent somberness was building to its gloomy denouement by first displaying positive memories the song's lovers experienced. The following two stanzas of: "Got my hair up real big beauty queen style / High heels off, I'm feeling alive" and "...Honey I’m on fire, I feel it everywhere/ Nothing scares me anymore" building on the same lyrical imagery. Lyrically, the song reaches the sadder conclusion with the chorus, "Kiss me hard before you go / Summertime sadness/ I just wanted you to know/ That baby you're the best." The darkest portion of the song's story swells at the beginning of the second verse: "I'm feelin' electric tonight/ Cruising down the coast goin' 'bout 99/ Got my bad baby by my heavenly side/I know if I go, I'll die happy tonight." As a whole, "Summertime Sadness" follows a typical pop song structure: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, with the chorus circulating several times before the song's end.
In his track-by-track review for Billboard magazine Andrew Hampp wrote about "Summertime Sadness" that "the pouty title alone drew giggles at Del Rey's Bowery gig, but the song itself proves to be one of the more durable tracks here even if its lyrics start to get redundant ('Kiss me hard before you go... That baby you're the best')". Amy Sciarretto of PopCrush noted that "on an album marked by shoe gazing moments, [the song] is Lana Del Rey at her most head down. But even though there is a palpable damaged girl in her voice, she commands attention with her lazy delivery." Los Angeles Times named it among the best tracks on the album along with "Video Games" and "Dark Paradise".
The music video for "Summertime Sadness" was filmed in April 2012 in Santa Clarita, California. It was directed by Kyle Newman and Spencer Susser. Newman's wife, actress Jaime King, stars along with Del Rey in the video, which tells the sad story of two women, who both end their own lives. King said about the video that, "It's about not being able to live without the one you love, friend or lover it doesn't matter, that's whatever you want it to be." Actor Alex Pettyfer reportedly also helped out on set as a production assistant.
The radio edit of the video was released on July 20, 2012, in Germany on ClipFish. The same day, the video with the album version of the song was released worldwide on Del Rey's official YouTube channel. As of September 2015 the music video has gained more than 233 million views on video-hosting website YouTube. It garnered four times more of the views "National Anthem" managed to gain in its first full month of release. For that week, Del Rey gained 69,000 new followers on both Facebook and Twitter after "Summertime Sadness" caused a 32% increase in weekly video views for her official YouTube channel. Combined with the views "Born to Die" netted, Del Rey reemerged on the Billboard Social 50 chart at number 42.
The music video opens with a woman leaving her lover a final voice message, "Remember, I'll always love you, bye". After the phone call, Del Rey sings the opening lyrics and jumps off the cliff. The next scenes tell the story about two women (played by Del Rey and Jaime King) who have become suicidal after realizing the irreparability of their relationship.
In the next scene, the forlorn King seeks out the nearest bridge in the city, then stands on its ledge in a tear-stricken state. The next scenes depict a statue of Jesus Christ, Del Rey looking onto the distance and a phone smashing into pieces as it hits the floor, hinting at Del Rey's realization that her girlfriend has killed herself. Feeling at fault for her lover's death, Del Rey spreads her arms wide mimicking the statue of Jesus Christ and jumps off the cliff.
The last scenes show both women in happier times, Del Rey turns to see King and smiles; both women are seen pouting and glancing seductively over their shoulders towards one another. As the women embrace, the smoke in the atmosphere gathers and they disappear. It's shown, after both suicides, that a haunting image of Del Rey (presumably her ghost) is seen walking down a long road towards the camera.
The video received generally favorable reviews from critics. Crystal Bell, a blogger for Huffington Post, called the video an "ode to Instagram," and compared it to Del Rey's previous videos. Carrie Battan of Pitchfork Media wrote, that "it's certainly no seven-minute re-enactment of the life of the Kennedy family, but it still offers the trademark LDR touch. Instagram-like footage, very forlorn faces, possible suicide attempts, and a very special guest." Jenna Hally Rubenstein, of MTV's Buzzworthy blog, considers that the coral-smoked scenes are Del Rey in the afterlife, post-suicide, saying it may be unlikely as, "the clip closes with an image of Lana and her ghost walking alone down an empty road." Further, she said, "Sad, sad times, y'all. But then again what else did you expect from a Lana video? Sunshine, glitter and ice cream cones? Probably not." Brennan Carley of Billboard noted that "keeping the buzz alive while sticking with sepia-tones and a healthy dose of melodramatics, Lana Del Rey probes a crumbling relationship in the music video [...] the video traces the women's relationship with spliced together film bits - much like the effects used in her earlier efforts - and foggy scenes of the stars pouting and glancing seductively over their shoulders." Spin magazine writer Marc Hogan found that the video recalled Del Rey's breakout video for "Video Games". He added, that "more provocative, though, is the hint of romance-gone-sour between Del Rey and the character played by actress Jaime King. Because this is a Lana Del Rey video, it's not spoiling anything to say there's a Thelma and Louise-like twist." Entertainment website Spinner called the visual "weird. It's beautifully shot, sepia-soaked and melodramatic. The singer's bestie, played by the very lovely actress Jamie King, is also pretty sad about summer ending." Tyler Monroe, writing for AUX, called the video "indistinguishable nothingness", adding "I don’t think Lana Del Rey is even trying anymore."
In 2012, Del Rey performed "Summertime Sadness" at the Irving Plaza, along with "Million Dollar Man", while drenched in purple lights. New York Times writer Bradley Sterns described Lana Del Rey's vocal style during the Irving Plaza performance as "lounge singer crooning". Along with "Million Dollar Man" and "Summertime Sadness", Del Rey also sang "Video Games", "Born to Die", "Lolita", and "Without You".
Miley Cyrus covered the song for BBC Radio1's Live Lounge. Her version has over 20 million views on YouTube.