Billboard Women in Music 'Trailblazer' Lana Del Rey: 'There's Not Such a Narrow Lane for 'Pop''

Joe Pugliese
Lana Del Rey photographed on Oct. 2, 2015 in Los Angeles. 

In the video for "High By the Beach," her Billboard Hot 100 hit from August, Lana Del Rey shoots down a paparazzi helicopter while wearing a ­nightgown. This is a fitting depiction of the 30-year-old's persona in 2015, a character of effortless cool and capricious self-protection who's just as likely to declare admiration for Scarlett O'Hara as she is for one of the world's ­leading Alzheimer's ­researchers. This year, Del Rey released her fourth LP, Honeymoon, which landed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and showcased her disparate interests by referencing "Rapper's Delight," The Eagles and Billie Holiday. "The most ­encouraging thing about the climate for artists right now is there's not such a narrow lane for what is considered 'pop,' " says Del Rey. "I feel like anything goes -- and ­hopefully pop songs will continue to have a little more depth and texture behind them."

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Intense Conversations
"I love the discussions I had with Elon Musk this year, and I enjoyed my talk with [geneticist/molecular biologist] John Hardy, who is trying to ­understand what causes Alzheimer's."

Her Scientific Exploration
"One of the most promising techniques I learned about was ­optogenetics: a biological technique that involves the use of light to control cells in living tissue."

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Her YouTube Viewing
"I went back and looked at a lot of documentaries on actors and ­historical figures I admire. I especially liked James Cagney: Top of the World and the Biography Channel's Henry Ford: Tin Lizzy Tycoon."

Iconic Women (Real and Fictional)
"I love Joan Baez and Julie London. I love their voices, and I relate to their artistic nuances, as well as what they stood for. Also, I love Scarlett O'Hara and Joan of Arc."

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The Italian Coast
"I really loved being in Portofino this year -- the beautiful buildings that date back hundreds of years, the weather and the culture."

2015 Highlights
Debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with Honeymoon
Embarked on the 20-date Endless Summer Tour, which included eight shows with Courtney Love
Featured on "Prisoner" from The Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness
Covered Daniel Johnston's "Some Things Last a Long Time" for a short film about the outsider artist

2015 Billboard Women in Music

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 12 issue of Billboard.