Artist: Lana Del Rey Release: Doin’ Time
An article from Rolling Stone that described Del Rey’s cover as “shimmering” and “glittering” included Sublime drummer Bud Gaugh‘s personal evaluation of Del Rey’s version, wherein Gaugh lauded the incorporation of her well-recognized vocal style into the song and said that the “smoky, sexy, and iconic sound of her voice breathes new life into one of our favorite singles.” In an interview published by iHeartRadio, Troy Dendekker, the widow of Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell, likewise praised Del Rey’s cover by calling it “magical and haunting” and explained that it was “an honor to have [Del Rey’s] talent complement the Sublime legacy.”
In a highly positive review from Billboard, reviewer Gil Kaufman stated that Del Rey “does [the song] justice”, particular highlighting how Del Rey incorporated her own “sleepy, intimate vibe over the song’s laid-back groove.” Kaufman further praised Del Rey’s version saying, “You know you’ve nailed a cover when it feels like something that could have easily appeared on one of your own albums,” further stating that Del Rey “is so deeply in the pocket on her super-chilled out version of Sublime’s iconic ‘Doin’ Time’ that it’s easy to forget the SoCal reggae rockers released…[the song]…more than 23 years ago.” Alex Zaragoza of Vice particularly acclaimed Del Rey’s version, saying it was “SoCal perfection…so perfect it’s reasonable to think there’s a Sublime poster hanging somewhere in her Malibu home.”
The Fader‘s Meaghan Garvey offered further acclaim to the song, saying that “the song of the summer is ‘Doin’ Time’ by Sublime, as sung by Lana herself,” and provided such esteem to the cover that she opined “[Del Rey’s] version of ‘Doin’ Time’ improves upon the original, with its slinkier arrangement and fluttering bridge.” In a separate article, a second writer for The Fader similarly praised Del Rey’s version and opened his critique of the track by saying that Del Rey’s “new Sublime cover is…sublime” while calling it a “gorgeous” rendition. Comparable to other reviews, the reviewer further remarked that Del Rey’s distinctive artistic approach and vocals ultimately shaped her version of the song into the final released single and said, “Lana’s got such a consistent aesthetic that it barely sounds like a Sublime cover; it could have easily fit onto her last record, Lust For Life.”
Stereogum‘s Keely Quinlan gave an overwhelmingly positive review, praising it as a “very, very good” cover and went on to state that Del Rey’s “stacked, reverb-soaked vocals fit this vibe expertly, and some additional percussion adds a gorgeous sweetness.” The reviewer particularly commended Del Rey’s treatment of the song’s bridge, opining that it was where the singer “really soars” and makes “the otherwise violent lyric ‘I’d like to hold her head underwater’ sound unnervingly sexy.” Eric Torres of Pitchfork also gave praise to Del Rey’s version and shared many of the same opinions as other reviewers when he described the cover as “decidedly within Del Rey’s wheelhouse.” Torres also highlighted the way in which Del Rey “[adapted] Bradley Nowell’s expressive rapping into her own blasé drawl.” He concluded by saying Del Rey’s cover “will most likely remain a small treat in her discography…but its low calorie count shouldn’t dissuade [listeners] from enjoying [its] simple pleasures.” A review from Radio.com additionally praised Del Rey’s treatment of the song, remarking that she delivered a “soaring” cover of the song that “couldn’t be more perfect.” The review further stated that the song was “born again” because of Del Rey’s stylistic hallmarks including a “turned down tempo, the introduction of strings, and fluttering harmonies.”
Rob Arcand of Spin reacted favorably to the cover, particularly applauding Del Rey’s devotion to the source material, saying that the cover “stays surprisingly true to the original, with plucked harp tones [and] big-beat breaks,” while only briefly critiquing the cover for having “very little record scratching.” Overall, he expressed admiration for Del Rey’s adaptation and made clear his doubt that another performer could have covered the song in a way that was both faithful to the original version and Sublime’s overall repertoire and also sonically evocative of the SoCal sounds that is evident in much of Del Rey’s own discography. He concluded his review by saying, “Few bands are more quintessentially American than Sublime, so maybe it makes sense coming from [Del Rey and her] sonic reference points like “Sylvia Plath” and Norman Fucking Rockwell.”
In the video, Del Rey—as an analog of the 50 Foot giant woman—appears amid locations across Los Angeles. At the video’s beginning, Del Rey is found reclining in an empty channel of the Los Angeles River, just south of the Olympic Boulevard Bridge. Beyond the bridge, at screen’s right, sits the horizontally-striped Dependable Companies building. At screen’s left (over Del Rey’s right shoulder), the Downtown Los Angeles skyline is visible, with the US Bank Tower as the pinnacle.
Del Rey subsequently strolls along streets Downtown, stopping to check her lipstick in the reflection of a window, which the upper rehearsal room of the Los Angeles Theatre. Incidentally, the building behind her is not the one directly across the theatre in real life, as one can see from Google street view. After checking her reflection, Del Rey is then seen stepping over the 101 Freeway; at her right ankle, the crest of the historic Hollywood Tower Apartments, and not far from her left leg, the recognizable ExtraSpace Storage building that borders the freeway. Further south appears the historic Capitol Records Building on Vine, the latter to which Del Rey refers in her song “Burning Desire” from her album Paradise.
Next, Del Rey is seen crossing the intersection of Windward Avenue and Pacific Avenue in Venice, CA with a replica of the iconic 1905 neon Venice Sign strung above the streets. To her left appears the historic 1905 Bank of Venice building, designed and erected by Venice founder Abbot Kinney. Del Rey continues south on Windward Avenue, which, within a matter of paces for a giant, spills onto Venice Beach. However, the scene suddenly portrays Del Rey on Santa Monica Beach, its recognizable skyline including a view of the multi-story, tiered 1299 Ocean Avenue, and the Santa Monica Mountains. The neighborhood of Bel Air is within partial view, perhaps another reference to Del Rey’s song “Bel Air” off Paradise.
She skims her hand across the ocean water, and the camera pulls out to reveal the scene unfolding on a screen at a drive-in. The giant Del Rey glances in the direction of Santa Monica Pier, just visible at lower right of the drive-in screen. As the action continues, a version of Del Rey as a drive-in patron experiences her own storyline. Meanwhile, the Del Rey on the screen plays in the sand. She then stands to dance, and ultimately blasts the drive-in patrons with sand before climbing out of the screen into the parking lot to intervene with the drive-in Del Rey’s story. Once her work is complete, she reenters the screen wherein she is seen once again in Downtown L.A., 611 Place by William Pereira and the Aon Tower by Charles Luckman over her right shoulder.