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Born To Die - Lana Del Rey album review

currently: overwhelmed!

So university will not take a break for me any time soon, so sorry for the lack of regular posts. It's hard to feel motivated to write when you're writing about 80% of the time for university purposes, so it feels a bit too much. Kinda like eating two bowls of ice cream each day and becoming so sick of it that you crave salad. Salad in this case means not writing anything. But I will aim to be more committed to posting, even if I try for just a photo or two.

Anyway, just a special review I'm posting today. Instead of posting the originally printed version that I wrote for Debate Magazine's second issue straight onto here, I will post my original, unfiltered album review - a.k.a the longer and slightly more meaner one. Hope you enjoy!

Lana Del Rey – Born to Die (Deluxe Edition)
Rating: B-
American singer Lizzy Grant, a.k.a Lana Del Rey, a.k.a the self-proclaimed ‘gangsta Nancy Sinatra’, had already been labelled ‘the next big thing’ and ‘overrated hype’ before her album had been released. Now, with Del Rey’s debut Born to Die released to an anticipating audience of critics, she is set to try and make her music career last longer than her controversy. Her old film noir glam influences and self-described ‘Hollywood pop/ sadcore’ genre have brought something fresh and different, but her challenge will be whether Born to Die would give Lana Del Rey the credit to keep her elevated over the others in the charts.

The first track, Born to Die, is introduced with an uplifting and theatrical romantic string group before a downbeat is played and Del Rey whispers “What? Who me?” innocently. After this touch of old Hollywood sound, Del Rey’s deep crooning voice breaks in, dripping in melancholy. Del Rey’s vocals are backed by a string orchestra, accented with some attempt of hip hop influence as an (assumed) black man yells “alright” in the background. The overall effect of the song is something bridging between the dream-like and the dreary, but none the less memorable.
The following song, Off to the Races, changes the pace of the album with Del Rey’s voice the driving force as she sings about her odd relationship with her “old man”. When it reaches the pre-chorus, the tone and sound of Del Rey’s voice changes completely from mysterious and sultry, to sickly sweet and higher pitched vocal. While it is nice to hear some contrast from what could have been a very monotone song, it is more irritating to listen to the chorus lyrics “scarlet starlet” being hiccupped in her baby voice. The accompanying beat however makes the track very catchy and strong.
The next couple of songs, Blue Jeans and Video Games, sound very relatable to the first track as Del Rey returns to her deeper toned voice and old-glam vibe. While Blue Jeans has too many production elements playing at the same time (with the return of the yelling black guy), Video Games is definitely her strongest track. Her moody toned voice with emotive lyrics like “they say that the world was built for two, only worth living if somebody is loving you” makes this lover’s angst song one of the more relatable on the album.
After Video Games, most of the other songs pale in comparison as they nowhere reach the same sort of deep thinking, romanticised, or appropriately moody level. National Anthem would be a track that would have Occupy activists and old school feminists up in arms over Del Rey’s awkward white girl rapping, with Del Rey singing phrases such as “Money is the anthem of success” and “Ooh yeah baby bow down, making me so wow wow”. While in the deluxe version of this album, the overproduced track Lolita has incessantly annoying phrases of spelling ‘dark’ and ‘park’, and repeatedly calling out “hey Lolita hey” that make me feel this was written by the same company of idiots that produced Rebecca Black’s Friday.
Overall, it is hard to say whether this is outright good or bad album. This album needs to be listened to a few times, in order to get through the initial feelings of her dreary and seemingly monotone set of tracks. While there are a few strong songs, many weaker points are made worse through the overproduction. Also, while Lana Del Rey claims that she’s a ‘gangsta Nancy Sinatra,’ the forced upon hip hop elements (a.k.a the yelling black dude in the background, and attempts of ghetto lyrics) feels unnatural. So while the album may be different to any other sound on the current charts, it may not be different in the best way possible.

Stand Out Tracks: Video Games, Born to Die
For people who like: to act like hipsters/indie kids. That seems to be the only Lana Del Rey common factor. Seriously, I find it hard to name singers like her.

As an added bonus, if you want to hear how a dude does singing Lana Del Rey, I suggest this video. Personally I like the guy take on it. Feels less moody.

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