Lana Del Rey’s still got summer blues, but lusts for life

Lana Del Rey emerged on the music scene as a haunting figure. She was "Born to Die," in the words of her breakthrough album, and darkness permeated her sound and worldview.

Five years after "Born to Die," the prolific singer on Friday put out her fourth major-label album, whose title -- "Lust for Life" -- would appear to show the inverse mindset.

Yet for the 32-year-old singer, sorrow and joy are intricately interconnected. On "Lust for Life," she enjoys the world's pleasures all the while feeling cursed by their ephemerality.

Del Rey carries the album through her quickly recognizable voice, breathy and coquettish yet sauntering with echoes of Nancy Sinatra.

"Lust for Life" builds on Del Rey's signature cinematic style, melancholic with an aura of classic Hollywood, yet the album also shows touches of hip-hop swagger -- most apparent in seamless appearances by rapper A$AP Rocky.

The title track -- no relation to punk icon Iggy Pop's classic "Lust for Life" -- brings in emerging R&B superstar The Weeknd, who in his mellifluous falsetto at times reaches a higher range than Del Rey.

Even if the song celebrates life, it opens with a dark allusion to a Hollywood suicide before finding joy in the here and now.

"Take off / Take off all your clothes," Del Rey intones, as The Weeknd sings, "They say only the good die young / That just ain't right."

Del Rey teams up with other major names on the album. Stevie Nicks, her sandy voice smoothly complementing Del Rey's, joins for "Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems," while Sean Lennon brings a gentle beauty to "Tomorrow Never Came."

- Activism through melancholy -

If "Lust for Life" largely stays true to the sound honed by Del Rey, the New York-born singer reaches into new territory as she speaks out, in her own way, on politics.

Del Rey has hardly become a protest singer. But she becomes a uniquely effective voice in turning her forlorn sound into a reflection on the America of Donald Trump.

On "God Bless America - And All Beautiful Women In It," Del Rey's gloominess gives way to uplift as she finds solidarity in the masses of women who took to the streets after the shock of Trump's election.

"May you stand proud and strong / Like Lady Liberty, shining all night long," Del Rey sings.

The often dour Del Rey is again startling optimistic as she reaches into history on "When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing."

"Is it the end of an era? Is it the end of America? No, it's only the beginning. If we hold on to hope, we will have a happy ending," she sings.

In a recent interview with Elle UK, Del Rey said it was impossible in the current moment to escape politics: "It would be weird to be making a record during the past 18 months and not comment."

Yet her lyricism more often takes up loneliness than community.

The singer who scored an early hit with "Summertime Sadness" returns to similar territory on "Summer Bummer," while "13 Beaches" relates her struggles to find a quiet place in the sand away from paparazzi.

Del Rey closes the album with "Get Free," a reflection on the clash between gloom and her outreach to the world.

"Sometimes it feels like I've got a war in my mind," she sings. "I want to get off, but I keep riding the ride."

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‘Walking Dead’ sets stage for war… and an elderly Rick

Hit zombie series "The Walking Dead" thrilled fans Friday with a preview of the all-out war to come between Rick's people and the malevolent Saviors in the hotly-anticipated eighth season.

US network AMC debuted a five-minute trailer at San Diego Comic-Con showing Saviors leader Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in full swagger before cutting to all the major characters readying their weapons and troops to take him down once and for all.

There was the usual feast of explosions, guns, hand-to-hand combat and zombies with axes in their heads -- and a thrilling cameo by King Ezekiel's CGI tiger.

Intriguingly, the teaser ended with an older, grayer version of Rick waking up in a hospital bed with a walking stick by his side, implying a huge leap forward in the narrative -- or perhaps just a dramatic dream sequence.

There were rousing speeches from Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and Ezekiel (Khary Payton), perhaps presaging a brighter future for the embattled apocalypse survivors.

"With everything we've beat, everything we've endured, everything we've risen above, everything we've become -- no matter what comes next -- we've won. We've already won," says Rick.

Series co-creator Robert Kirkman, the man behind the comics on which the show is based, said he'd counted six explosions in the trailer alone.

"We have all kinds of great stuff planned. Our next season will be very action-packed and very fast-paced," he told a packed 6,500-capacity Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center.

Kirkman and his fellow executive producers were joined on stage by numerous cast members, including Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Morgan, Cohan and Payton.

"Every night is karaoke night for Negan. He's having fun," said Morgan of his swaggering, evil antagonist.

- 'Bolder, bloodier' -

Before the panel got going, showrunner Scott M. Gimple paid tribute to stuntman John Bernecker, who died after falling more than 20 feet (seven meters) on the set in Georgia earlier this month.

Earlier, Hall H had observed a moment's silence for Bernecker during a Q&A for AMC's spin-off series, "Fear the Walking Dead."

"Fear" is due to return from its mid-season break on September 10, finishing its third season on October 15, a week before the return of the main show.

Co-created by Kirkman, the spin-off show takes place in California and Mexico from the very start of the zombie apocalypse whereas the main show started out at an unspecified later date, in Georgia.

Kirkman hinted at a possible crossover between the two shows while admitting the time gap between them would be a problem.

"It's really a question of timeline because 'Walking Dead' season eight is so far ahead in the timeline compared to 'Fear the Walking Dead' season three," he said.

Fans have been speculating online since the spin-off show started that Daryl Dixon, a lead character in the main show played by Norman Reedus, is related to Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) from "Fear."

Kirkman joked that the pair might be able to communicate via a "magical telephone."

Fans were treated to a trailer previewing the next eight episodes, which will be "bolder, bloodier and more zombie" than ever before, according to showrunner Dave Erickson.

Greg Nicotero, an executive producer on both series and a renowned special effects guru, described their "tremendous debt of gratitude" to zombie legend George Romero, who died on July 16 at age 77.

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