lana del rey: born to die

when the internet world (read: tumblr and every fashion/music blog on the planet) started blowing up about someone called LANA DEL REY, i was completely dumbfounded. who is this person and why does everyone love her? likewise, LDR started popping up all over tumblr and facebook – people were posting her videos for born to die and video games almost as much as people are posting that fucking video for “somebody i used to know. in any case, i was unimpressed and refused to give in to the obvious trend of LDR. as my good friend arthurscott put it: fake bitch is fake. am i right?! but then a weird thing happened…she appeared on SNL and everyone started hating her. i was intrigued. needless to say, LDR quickly became my guilty pleasure.

potentially world’s most irritating photo ever (from straight.com)

last week i reviewed her album BORN TO DIE for the online newspaper that i write for, timessquare. it was actually kind of a hard review to write, especially because i totally forgot about it until the day it was due. that being said, i was not lost on things to say! i have so many opinions about lana del rey, and to be honest, they change every day. what’s up with that! i’ve never felt this way about an artist before, honestly. i’m very torn between loving her or hating her…or loving to hate her. probably more of the latter. i love judging people. (oh shut up, you know you do too!)

so, without further ado, here is my review of born to die, after the jump!! trust me — this is just the tip of the iceberg people. i suspect we’ll definitely be seeing more of del rey, and in the coming weeks, i’ll definitely have a lot more to say. stay tuuuuned!

American singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey aka Lizzy Grant’s reputation has preceded her. For months before her second studio album, Born to Die, was released, the music videos for her first few singles went viral. Having been dubbed an indie statement on today’s music by everyone but Del Rey herself, the release of Born to Die ultimately became one of the biggest let downs in music today. As it turns out, Del Rey’s style is more indie-pop than anything – but given the first impression she presented (while perhaps unintentionally), listeners everywhere decided that Lana Del Rey’s album was a failed attempt at indie. After a rather lackluster performance on SNL, Lana Del Rey’s poor image seemed to be set in stone. However, her album has reached number 2 on Billboard Charts, selling over 77,000 copies thus far. Pretty impressive for someone who is arguably the most hated performer in Hollywood right now.

All this aside, I am not ashamed to say that I enjoyed most of Born to Die. While many of her songs are fairly lyrically inept, her gritty voice and gloomy style are nonetheless well done, for what they are. The album’s title track and opener, Born to Die, starts off quite interestingly – strings infused with an almost hip-hop-esque beat that’s carried out throughout the entire song. What throws me off here is the breathy back-up vocals by Del Rey (“who me?”) but the rest of the song carries out nicely, even if it is somewhat monotone. That being said, in order to enjoy this album, I definitely had to come to terms with the fact that her songs are very anti-climactic; there is no build up, no rise and fall, no expression of powerful, passionate vocals of any kind. Video Games is a primary example of this: while the song is effected evenly, that seems to be part of its charm. A simple song about Del Rey’s down-to-earth, easy relationship with a former boyfriend, there is not a whole lot to Video Games, except what seems to be honesty presented in a pretty, albeit slightly unexceptional way.

I won’t go as far as saying I liked the whole album; it is lacking in many ways and for me, the juvenile and at times nonsensical lyrics were incredibly distracting. I’m not going to waste too much time on Off to the Races – this song is trying too hard in every sense of the word. Del Rey’s painful attempt at white girl rapping mixed with a strange, high pitched emphasis at the end of the every word in the chorus creates a very confusing and, for the most part, off-key track. I also am not fond of hearing about the “fire of [her] loins”. Similarly to Off to the Races, National Anthem marks another failed attempt at rapping. It’s also clear she couldn’t think of a word that rhymed with “exist”, choosing to rhyme it with “kiss kiss”. “I’m your national anthem, God, you’re so handsome” should be evidence enough of her lyrical incompetence. Sorry, Lana. Another disappointment is Diet Mountain Dew, a jumble of nonsensical words strung together, that made almost entirely zero sense.

But, there are a few numbers that make up for the aforementioned songs. Blue Jeans sounds very similar to Video Games with the same uncomplicated, charming quality that resonates Lana Del Rey much more than her attempts to be something she’s not. Another gem is Lucky Ones: starting off slowly, the song jumps to a higher octave that adds some variety, interest and, actually, comes across very Lana Del Rey – this is the kind of song you sway along to, very pretty in its own right. Million Dollar Man starts off very uniquely in comparison to the rest of the album and showcases the lounge style of Del Rey’s vocal abilities.

All in all, as Born to Die is only her second studio album, I think Lana Del Rey is still finding her voice and figuring out what her sound will be. I think the album is solid for what it is, but that expecting too much from this almost lazy, sultry lounge style can easily make the album seem very disappointing. Despite Del Rey’s lyrical struggles, I’m still able to enjoy most of her songs.

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