In 2013, Lana Del Rey joined forces with hitmaker Rick Nowels to create ‘Young and Beautiful’, a song used for the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann film The Great Gatsby. Upon release, the song was received well with various nominations which included ‘Best Song Written for Visual Media’ at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.
The song was not without its controversy at the time, a reported “outrage” from fans after the Academy Awards overlooked Del Rey for an Oscar nomination that year. A report from Time Magazine at the time discussed speculation Del Rey’s effort was “sabotaged” rather than simply missing out on merit.
According to a report from Deadline at the time of the scandal, an anonymous envelope was “mailed to various members of the Academy’s music selection committee,” which, somewhat bizarrely, included a print-out of a fake Variety article that claimed Del Rey’s song was now eligible for the ‘Best Song’ Academy Awards nomination due to what was described as “a technicality involving The Great Gatsby‘s changed release date.”
The article was then officially investigated by those at the Academy Awards who later uncovered it as a fake,” according to deadline: “Insiders said attempts to figure out the sender were unavailing, so the studio and Interscope focused on setting the record straight with the Oscar committee member who reported receiving the missive and others who might have. Warner Bros, which has several songs from the Baz Luhrmann-directed film on the just-released long list of 75 eligible tunes, is now recutting a music featurette to emphasize the collaboration between Luhrmann and Del Rey on the song, which plays in the scene where Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) regales Daisy (Carey Mulligan) with the grandeur of his mansion. And yes, the song is Oscar-eligible.”
In spite of whether the track was actually snubbed or not, the song emerged as Del Rey’s most commercially successful effort since her debut ‘Video Games’ in 2011 which, at the time, peaked at 22 in the Billboard Hot 100. While it arrived in a bizarre bubble of controversy, Del Rey refused to let the hysteria surround her creativity and, to this day, her iconic haunting tones have stood the test of time.
“It was an honour to work with Baz Lurhmann on his amazing adaptation of one of the most extraordinary books ever written,” Del Rey would later reflect. “He asked me if I could write a memory cue for Daisy. So I sang him a chorus of ‘Young and Beautiful’ that I had already—just a chorus—and he thought that’d be good for her. I wrote the whole thing after I watched her garden scenes. The movie is highly glamorous and exciting; Rick Nowels and I were thrilled to write the song for the film.”
“[The idea] didn’t come from ‘Let’s make a great soundtrack, it came from Fitzgerald,'” Luhrmann explained to MTV News. “When he wrote that book, he was a modernist, he was in the moment, and the music of the moment was African-American street music called Jazz, and when he put Jazz music in Gatsby, everyone was like ‘What are you crazy? It’s a fad.’ And then he put Hit Parade songs, pop songs, the equivalent of Lana Del Rey singing a beautiful ballad.”
Here, we explore the isolated version of the track, an alternative take on a song that follows the story of a young lover’s apprehension about the theme of love and whether it is lasting. You can listen to the dulcet tones of Del Rey below and appreciate how silky her vocals sound on the audio, below.