The Sixties-inspired song has layered synths and keyboards swirling around Del Rey and the Weeknd’s delicate vocals. “Take off all of your clothes,” they sing intermittently, as if it’s an afterthought.
In an interview with Courtney Love for Dazed Magazine, Del Rey revealed that “Lust for Life” was the first song she wrote for the album and got an assist from Max Martin for it. She traveled to his Sweden compound where encouraged her to turn what had previously been a verse into the song’s chorus. Upon returning to her main producer Rick Nowels’ place, she realized the one extra element she needed for the track.
“That’s when I felt like I really wanted to hear Abel [Tesfaye, the Weeknd] sing the chorus, so he came down and rewrote a little bit of it,” she said in the interview. “But then I was feeling like it was missing something, a little bit of the Shangri-Las element, so I went back for a fourth time and layered it up with harmonies.”
Del Rey and the Weeknd, two artists who sprouted up on YouTube around the same time and have been compared for their similarly moody, noir sounds, have crossed paths on the last two Weeknd albums. They sang together on the 2015 song “Prisoner” and Del Rey made a scene-stealing appearance on the short “Stargirl Interlude” off last year’s Starboy.