- 26 Jan 12
A song-by-song trip through Lana Del Rey's 48-minute lovestruck, cliché-ridden debut.
At the time of writing, the arguably alternative, allegedly self-made pop starlet known as Lana Del Rey is best known for a beautiful song called 'Video Games' and a shambolic live performance of that song on impassable US comedy show Saturday Night Live. During her head-spinning, six-month ascent to fame, the outspoken folk who keep the internet in business have had countless gripes with Del Rey; her bee-stung lips, her doe eyes, her '50s and '60s-infused style, her vacuous lyrics and her record label-appointed role as a "gangsta Nancy Sinatra". Nothing too bad, then, given that the most frequent moans related to what an absolute ride the 25-year-old is.
These days, Lana, or Elizabeth Grant to her folks, has much bigger problems to deal with. SNL viewers and NBC news anchors alike called her up on her trembling voice which, admittedly, sounded ridiculous flipping arbitrarily from a basement growl to coquettish coo. That said, metamorphosing from a ruffled-up Peggy Lee to a breathy Disney princess at the flick of an eyelash has always been Del Rey's speciality and there have been plenty of times when it worked brilliantly, like on her October 2011 appearance on Later…With Jools Holland
There will still be hate for Lana Del Rey after the world hears Born To Die, but at least now, naysayers will be able to direct their grievances towards specific gremlins in the album's works, namely, OTT arrangements and laughable lyrics.
Or we could just all keep on making jokes about her lips…
Artist: Lana Del Rey
Title: Born To Die
Genre: In Lana's own words, Hollywood Sadcore
Worst lyric: 'Light of your life, fire of your loins' - 'Off To The Races', with far, far, far too many honourable mentions to mention.
Best lyric: 'You fit me better than my favourite sweater' - 'Blue Jeans'
Born To Die
Opening with a swell of romantic strings (the kind you're used to hearing when two giant, highly-paid heads come together for a smooch on the big screen), 'Born To Die' is the moment where Del Rey's bizarre vocal shapeshifting is at its most blatant, to the point where you can almost feel her nose scrunching up as she delivers the line 'Come on take a walk on the wild side/Let me kiss me hard in the pouring rain'…a line that I, for one, could have done without. The most epic song on the record, but also the hammiest.
Off To The Races
In terms of content, 'Off To The Races' is another 'Video Games', a song which finds Del Rey in the middle of her own glossy HBO Drama, professing her love for what sounds like a contemptible hunk of man ('He loves with every beat of his cocaine heart', 'You're lying with your gold chain on/Cigar hanging from your lips'). Built on a heavier beat than 'Video Games', it also sees Del Rey test drive some Nelly Furtado-sounding vocal gymnastics.
Still in love and still declaring it in the most obvious way possible, meanwhile describing whatever items of clothing happen to be lying around. Still strangely addictive.
The one Lana Del Rey moment that the haters can't take away. Here, the voice, the sentiment, the arrangement, the wording, everything, is at its most beautiful.
Diet Mountain Dew
One of the only tracks gangsta enough to nod your head to, 'Diet Mountain Dew' takes inspiration from mid-tempo '90s hip hop, all the while letting Del Rey eschew the ditzy lyrics and indulge her Nancy Sinatra side. One of the record's best.
This one goes; 'National Anthem, God, you're so handsome…' Because, you know, whatever.
A plodding and (oddly enough given the drama elsewhere) fairly emotionless ballad. Next!
A truly catchy track that sees Del Rey put her talents to proper use. Stark, Jamie XX-style beats meet restrained, clever lyrics ('Pick me up and take me like a vitamin'). It's worth pointing out, of course, that the 'Radio' Lana Del Rey is the most frivolous Lana Del Ray of the whole record and that the song in question is essentially an ode to how awesome it feels to be famous. Maybe our pouting princess is being ironic, it's hard to tell. Either way, this song is no 'Blowing In The Wind', but simplicity is a good look on her.
A dark, tiring number that tells the dark, tiring tale of a doomed woman named Carmen who sells her body on the streets of Coney Island. Not Carmen or Lana's finest hour.
Million Dollar Man
'Million Dollar Man' sees Del Rey in full-on sex siren/torch singer mode, and spitting clichés like they're going out of fashion ('One for the money/Two for the show'). Not pictured: crimson plunging evening gown and baby grand piano.
In spite of its near-comical title, 'Summertime Sadness' is one of the most infectious tracks on Born To Die, and possibly the only one on which Lana can be considered genuinely adorable. A worthy mix of foolhardy cheek and po-faced melancholy.
This Is What Makes Us Girls
What makes Lana Del Rey a girl? 'Stealin' police cars with the senior guys', 'skippin' school and drinkin' on the job', apparently. Edgy production saves this track, which would otherwise be ousted as a bid for the hormone-happy teenage girl vote. Still, after all Ms. Grant's endured over these past six months, it took serious balls to finish her album with a self-indulgent ballad and a spoken word interlude.