Review: LANA DEL REY: Born To Die

Review: LANA DEL REY: Born To Die

[By Monica Harris]

What the music world can use is something different. Lana Del Rey offers that with “Born to Die.” Having said that, and although her style is more serious than the bubblegum pop currently flooding the radio waves, there is nothing epic or brilliant about this album.

In fact, the only “brilliance” is the irony. Del Rey depicts a pretty face of innocence, yet her lyrics are the harsh cries of someone who’s been around the block a few times and doesn’t give a damn what you think of her. Her jaded, hurt story comes across in each song on this album, not so much out of frustration that her love interest doesn’t return her love, but more the pragmatic acceptance that he never will.

Del Rey’s songs are the songs of a depressed prom queen, the girl everyone thinks has “it all” but she’ll never be happy until she gets the boy that got away. “They all think I have it all. I’ve nothing without you. All my dreams and all the lights mean Nothing without you,” she croons in Without You.

If you’re expecting uplifting fun songs, or soft, flowery girl power, don’t look to this album. There are no promises in her lyrics that everything is going to be okay. Just the matter-of-fact perspective that life is tough, and you might as well deal with that.

One song that attempts to have a positive tone is Lucky Ones, on which Del Rey suggests, “Every now and then, the stars align, Boy and girl meet by the great design. Could it be that you and me are the lucky ones?” But you can tell in her somber words that even she doubts her luck. And even this song, although attempting to be cheery, is sung over a dark cadence.

One thing Del Rey gets right is that her songs are consistent. Each one is ironic, each one is melodramatic and most, if not all, have a downward chord regression, and an eerie dreamy synth over a heavy bass drum. That could be a good thing. Despite other alterations she has made over the years, including changing her name and look, Del Rey seems to know where her strength lies musically, in this album at least.

Million Dollar Man is Fiona Apple-esque melodrama sung through pouty lips. It is backed by strong violins and evokes the image of Lana Del Rey in a long silk gown and pearls, holding a long cigarette.

Diet Mountain Dew has a hip hoppish rhythm with a retro feel. Think Duffy singing a Lil Wayne tune.

Summertime Sadness can very well sum up the “theme” of the entire album. Imagine a hot summer day at Coney Island, the clouds drawing in, a storm threatening to rain on your parade. This is the mood this song evokes.

Video Games is my personal favorite. It stands alone from the rest of the album, because it is simple, and is Del Rey at her most vulnerable.

Of the 15 tracks, I can picture National Anthem and Diet Mountain Dew as singles on pop radio. If not, they should be. They are catchy and radio friendly.

Amidst recent negative comments poked at Del Rey, especially following her Saturday Night Live appearance, one cannot deny that Del Rey does have a good voice and a talent for creative lyrics (she co-wrote 7 of the 15 tracks), and she offers something different from the Katy Perrys and Demi Lovatos out there. I don’t see Lana Del Rey’s music dying out any time soon.

Photo Credit: Nicole Nodland

Photo Credit: Nicole Nodland


‘Born To Die’ Tracklist (Standard)

1. Born To Die

2. Off To The Races

3. Blue Jeans

4. Video Games

5. Diet Mountain Dew

6. National Anthem

7. Dark Paradise

8. Radio

9. Carmen

10. Million Dollar Man

11. Summertime Sadness

12. This Is What Makes Us Girls

Deluxe Bonus Tracks (Digital)

13. Without You

14. Lolita

15. Lucky Ones

Born to Die is set to be released on January 31, 2012 worldwide.