Born To Die: CD Review

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I was plannning to review Lana Del Rey’s much anticipated album, “Born to Die” on Jan. 31. That was the release date, or, I suppose, is the release date.

But due to a “leak” or an early release, Del Rey’s album is now on the Internet, tattooed on almost every Tumblr. It’s the subject that has been talked about on major music blogs and personal Twitters alike.

People love Del Rey. They also hate her. She’s like an empress; she has definite influence, but people might not approve of what she’s doing.

My love for Del Rey came right when she released her “Video Games” EP this past fall in 2011. Her songs, “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” were the opening songs to about three different mix CDs I had made, and even my mother started singing along.

The style of that EP was what I was expecting to hear when I shamelessly crowded my Google Chrome tabs with her early-released MP3s of her “Born to Die” album. Although I was pleased hearing the songs, there isn’t much comparison between some of her newer songs and the tracks of her earlier EP.

Tracks like “Carmen” and “Lolita” feel inauthentic, something Del Rey is constantly being criticized of. Her transformation from Lizzy Grant to newly adopted name “Lana Del Rey” took music critics by surprise. What was a normal woman singing at bars in a green shirt and a pair of jeans turned into an icon, or perhaps, a mirror of an icon.

Her “realness” doesn’t really concern me, unless it’s in her music. She found what she wanted to become and became it. Her personal change isn’t anything of which I need to be critical, but others seem to take much interest in her authenticity. Del Rey had an interesting response to these critics.

“People just want to see me go off the rails. That’s the only reason they’re watching. They just want to see what happens,” Del Rey said in an interview with Telegraph.

But her less-than-great performance on SNL only exposed her as a terrible singer – something she is not. Her unfortunate appearance and uncharacteristically bad voice fooled the public into thinking she was some nobody trying to market her upcoming album.

Although most have prematurely dismissed Del Rey as a phony and have not taken the time to add even a song or two on their iPods, I still held hope for this fallen star. I still knew there was greatness in her music.

The actual construction of the music off this album is something to be appreciated for a majority of the tracks. Her ability to voice over symphonic tunes and then go straight to something totally different is impressing.

Beautiful melodies aside, her lyrics have promise. Off “Without You” from the album, she sings “Everything I want I have: Money, notoriety, and rivieras / I even think I found God / In the flash bulbs of your pretty cameras.”

Her irreverence brings constant interest. Her lyrics are unforgiving and bring strong direction in her music. “I’m your National Anthem / God, you’re so handsome /Take me to the Hamptons,” she sings in “National Anthem”.

Del Rey knows how powerful her words can be. She uses that power to create amazing imagery and affect her listeners. She captures nostalgia and uses it to make her songs feel classic and noir-like.

Whether she find success this year as an artist, or she disappears with only her SNL performance, some good songs and a few harsh critiques, “Born to Die” can’t be completely forgotten.

Her album showcases the talent some have come to love, and others to hate. Whatever goodness came from the beginning of her questionable career will always be appreciated. Del Rey will not leave forgotten.

4 / 5 stars

Photo: Courtesy of artist