Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
Buy Born to Die
Since she suddenly sprouted up from nowhere last year with a teaser single as polished and perfect as her heavily stylised image, Lana De Rey has been treated with varying degrees of suspicion and scepticism. When ‘Video Games’ went viral it all seemed too perfect, too engineered to be real. Who is this super-talented woman? Where did she come from? Is she ‘4-real’? All this inevitably led to the ‘hype’ around this debut album to be concentrated on knocking her off her ‘cynically manufactured’ pedestal – everything from accusing her to having a lip job to declaring her a phoney after a shaky Saturday Night Live appearance.
That probably doesn’t bother her (and/or those evil puppet masters!) too much though – after all, all hype is good hype in these days of diverse demographics and shrinking sales (the most popular YouTube videos of her ‘terrible’ SNL performances of ‘Video Games’ and ‘Blue Jeans’ are nearly up to two million views…)
Despite the ‘negative hype’, Lana Del Rey has easily become the most exciting new pop star in the world, and to be fair, it’s been all too easy to get excited about her. The delicate and elegantly dramatic ‘Video Games’ thankfully showed us all there is more to female pop stars than Adele’s cynical and predictable ‘I’ve-just-been-dumped-and-here’s-the-massive-chorus’ shtick.
Born To Die is an intense, dramatic, intriguing and enveloping journey to the dark and twisted aspects of love and dependence – which you could probably guess after hearing ‘Born To Die’, the single, with all its brooding, Syliva Plath-esque treatment of love, life and death: “Choose your last words / This is the last time / ‘Cus you and I / We were born to die” – not exactly your usual love song!
This intensity punctuates the entire album, with Lana never wasting an opportunity to lay it on thick. ‘Off To The Races’ has her totally submitting: ‘Because I’m crazy, baby / I need you to come here and save me’ and doubting herself in a damaged relationship: ‘Who else is gonna put up with me this way’, while the powerful and evocative ‘Blue Jeans’ mixes the innocence of young love: ‘You were sorta punk rock / I grew up on hip-hop / But you fit me better than my favourite sweater’ with heart-breaking commitment: ‘I will love you ‘til the end of time / I will wait a million years’.
All this intensity would normally be too much for our constitution, but Born To Die features enough inventiveness and different styles to keep each song fresh. There’s hints of hip-hop swagger in ‘Diet Mountain Dew’ and the superb ‘National Anthem’, as well as vintage crooning (‘Video Games’, ‘Radio’ and ‘Million Dollar Man’) and good old fashioned pop (‘Dark Paradise’ and the brilliant album closer ‘This Is What Makes Us Girls’).
The detractors might not want to hear it, but Born To Die is just as good as all the hype has promised, until of course it all gets over played and over exposed and we’re sick of the mention of it – but right now, it’s a brilliant and bold pop album.