Release Date: Jan 31, 2012
Record label: Polydor
Give Lana Del Rey credit: At least she didn’t break down and cry on Saturday Night Live. She’s a starlet to music bloggers, who’ve been buzzing over her for the past year. But for the rest of us, she’s just another aspiring singer who wasn’t ready to make an album yet. Given her chic image, it’s a surprise how dull, dreary and pop-starved Born to Die is.
It speaks volumes about the fuss surrounding Lana Del Rey’s recent [i]Saturday Night Live[/i] performance that, after the show, even Harry Potter’s fabled magic wand could do nothing to stem the flow of unkind words directed her way. In the same week that Mark Wahlberg claimed he would have stopped 9/11 if he’d been on board one of the planes that crashed, the self-described ‘gangsta Nancy Sinatra’ caught hell from half the internet and sundry ’slebs of dubious import for her shaky performance of ‘Video Games’, before compère Daniel Radcliffe rushed to her defence. Amazingly, we’re still not sure which story got most publicity.
It's hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy for Lana Del Rey. She's hardly the first pop star in history to indulge in a spot of pragmatic reinvention that muddies her comfortable background, but you'd certainly think she was. You can barely hear the music over the carping, which appears to be getting louder as her debut album approaches: a cynic might say that's just as well, given the recent Saturday Night Live appearance in which she demonstrated her uncanny mastery of the vocal style deployed by Ian Brown during the Stone Roses' later years – she honked like the foghorn on Portland Bill lighthouse.
Review Summary: Utterly brilliant. "Always leave them wanting more. " It will no doubt delight the army of Lana Del Rey haters that somebody who loves her as much as I do has chosen to open a review of her debut album with a quote that's been attributed to both Phineas Taylor Barnum, the infamous scam artist, and Walt Disney, the noted creator of two-dimensional cartoon characters.
I was initially puzzled by the accusations of inauthenticity that were hurled with such vehemence and frequency at Lana Del Rey (née Elizabeth Grant) in the wake of her meteoric rise to It Girl status last year. Yes, her self-styled “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” persona doesn’t exactly jibe with reports that her career was bankrolled by Daddy Del Rey. And I guess we’re supposed to lament the fact that, unlike Amy Winehouse, she doesn’t appear to have a predilection for dope or booze to back up her supposed bad-girl bona fides.
I don't know why these chicks do it to themselves. You see them getting off the bus every day, fresh from Omaha or Wilmington or Lake Placid, upstate New York. Take this one girl, Lizzy Grant. Left her dotcom millionaire daddy trying to make it as a singer, says she wound up in a trailer park. Girl ….
Lana Del ReyBorn To Die[Interscope; 2012]By Philip Cosores; January 30, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGOn "This Is What Makes Us Girls," the final song of Lana Del Rey's much-anticipated major label debut Born To Die, all questions of authenticity and indie cred are answered when Del Rey whispers an order to her imaginary bartender "Pabst Blue Robbon on ice. " Whereas much of the controversy surrounding Del Rey's image and the marketing that delivered it is able to stay away from the fold, on "This Is What Makes Us Girls" this contrived bit of detail is groan-inducing. Later in the song it seems even more out of place when the girls are drinking "cherry schnaps.
Let’s table opinions for a few paragraphs and talk about facts. It’s a fact that I’ve played Lana Del Rey’s songs 58 times this week and 76 times this month. It’s a fact that I’ve caught myself singing or humming several tunes off Born to Die during this period.
It's hard not to be put off by the hype. Before Lana Del Rey (née Lizzy Grant) had even released her debut album, she had accumulated nearly half a million Facebook "likes," was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live (in two vocally challenged performances devoid of much stage presence), and announced the re-release of what was essentially Born to Die's prequel, an album she made under her own name that failed to garner much attention upon its initial release in 2010. It's no wonder that people are predisposed not to like this femme fatale with husky voice and rap-ish boasts singing about blue jeans and video games.
It must be disappointing to many that the title track on Born to Die uses a cleaned-up version of the line "I wanna fuck you hard in the pouring rain." Though it must be universally agreed upon that "kiss you hard" sounds more natural coming from those famously puffy lips than the vulgarity that had blogs buzzing when the live version of the song first made the rounds a few months back. Lyrics cannot be considered one of Lana's (nee Lizzy Grant, as she is listed in the writing credits, and under which name she had previously recorded) strengths, anyway. The team of songwriters on the album includes Rick Nowels who wrote the Belinda Carlisle hit "Heaven is a Place on Earth" (which, not incidentally, is also a line from "Video Games").
The sudden rise of Lana Del Rey can only be attributed to each and every one of us. We’re just another cog in the enormous machinery of hype, wielding a little bit more force each and every day until it eventually takes a life of its own. But really, this advertising juggernaut isn’t any different to the one golden planogram marketers and executives have been practicing for years: look for a way to turn something conventional with a pinch of peculiarity, confound an audience by applying a fair amount of mystique and, ultimately, await the ending result after you’ve broadened an audience as much as possible.
In among the insults hurled at US pop starlet Lana Del Rey (you know: fake, manufactured, rich, Botoxed), there is one gripe that survives a nanosecond's scrutiny. Even in the more measured enclaves of comment land, there lurks a feeling that Del Rey (born Elizabeth Grant) seems a little waxen, a little dead behind the eyes. You can see what they mean in her uneven performance on Saturday Night Live recently, or the bizarre video for "Born to Die", the title track from Del Rey's eagerly awaited, sort-of debut album (Lizzy Grant did make one earlier).
Review Summary: A construct of various things people look for in music right now, but it is not without merit.As an idea, Lana Del Rey is perfect. She hits all the right notes to appeal to a rather large demographic – there is the classical appeal of her look (the bright red lipstick, the massive curls, the pout), the modern appeal of her sound that filters Americana through hip-hop and modern pop, and the appeal to carefree youth in her lyrics that can be appreciated by both young and old. Unfortunately, the execution has been less than stellar, and one has to wonder if perhaps she was not the proper vessel for this particular potential pop revolution.
After six months of fevered conjecture over the very existence of Lana Del Rey, the heavy-lidded chanteuse whose hypnotic ”Video Games” fiercely divided the blogosphere last summer, it’s still not clear exactly what the argument is. Do people dislike her because she’s too ”sexy”? Is her apocryphal backstory — the supposed millionaire father, the alleged lip augmentations (which she denies), the name change from the more benign Lizzy Grant — the issue? Or is it just because she’s scored a deluge of prerelease hype that, as her widely panned Jan. 14 appearance on Saturday Night Live showed, might not be deserved? Born to Die‘s wild swings between unqualified stunners and bizarre miscues provide no real answers, but they do produce plenty more chum for the message-board sharks.
What happens to a dream fulfilled? More specifically, an American dream fulfilled, rags turning to riches with the snap of a manicured finger, kissing James Dean in Gatsby's swimming pool, getting played on the radio. This is a central question animating Lana Del Rey's Born to Die. Our heroine has all the love, diamonds, and Diet Mountain Dew she could ask for, yet still sings, "I wish I was dead," sounding utterly incapable of joy.
Lana Del Rey is a femme fatale with a smoky voice, a languorous image, and a modeling contract. Not coincidentally, she didn't lack for attention leading up to the release of her Interscope debut, Born to Die. The hype began in mid-2011 with a stunning song and video for "Video Games," and it kept on rising, right up to her January 2012 performance on Saturday Night Live (making her the first artist since Natalie Imbruglia in 1998 to perform on SNL without an album available).
For a moment, let’s forget about Lizzy Grant, the privileged girl who grew up in New York City and may or may not have had a music career handed to her. She’s probably fascinating, but she doesn’t concern us, and enough time has been wasted talking about her and all the various implications raised when she decided to dive headlong into the deep end of the pop music pool. This review is about Lana Del Rey, the singer, the product, the self-proclaimed “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”; the woman who dropped one hell of an opening salvo with “Video Games” last summer, followed it up with two eminently listenable singles in “Blue Jeans” and “Born to Die”, and then suffered massive backlash after a disastrous appearance on Saturday Night Live and plenty of hand-wringing over her authenticity (or lack thereof).
Lana Del Rey is a songwriter with literary flair and a sense of drama, but ultimately her moody tales of love and lost innocence fail to solve the quandary faced by many a serious-minded pop singer: how to convey your deepest emotions with pointed simplicity without sounding totally ridiculous? It's a feat she does not pull off. All is not lost, however. Born To Die nicely balances sweeping, orchestral R&B and hip-hop beats.
I’d like to start yet another discussion of Lana Del Rey’s debut, Born To Die, with a quotation from model Bradley Soileau, who plays her lover in the video for the title track. When asked if Del Rey’s lips were real, Soileau responded: “People obsess about the wrong things. They should be obsessed with her voice and her music because it’s fucking amazing.
Intelligent, ambitious and brilliantly realised, Born to Die defies any backlash. Jaime Gill 2012 If you want an explanation for the unlikely rise of Lana Del Rey, it isn’t that hard to find. Ignore accusations of cynical marketing and inauthenticity, or speculation about surgery and Daddy’s money – that’s not important. And don’t get distracted by the YouTube statistics or the online hyperbole, this isn’t about new media.
Current media sensation Lana Del Rey just released her fatalistically-titled album Born To Die at the end of January and she’s riding high on a lively worldwide wave of hype and backlash, with her album debuting at #2 on the U.S. Billboard chart and at #1 on the U.K., Irish, and French charts. Contrary to the reactionary rumors found online, Lana didn’t just appear out of nowhere as a “manufactured product” by a record label.
If there was a pound for every column inch written about Lana Del Rey, we’d all be very rich indeed. Hell, if there were even a fraction of that sum on offer for every piece that started with that very intro, there’d still be a decent nest egg in it. From the depths of the blogosphere via the covers of the style mags, right through to the inky paper of newsprint, anyone would think we’re dealing with a pop star - but in that case, why would everyone be getting themselves quite so worked up?What once was sold as an unlikely rise has turned into the blog equivalent of a tabloid affair; accusations of cynicism - a lack of that ever recurring currency of ‘real’ - have chased Lana around the digital realm since the first signs she might actually have a shot of success.
All that fuss over one song? You'd think there'd been a murder at the White House. In July, 'Video Games' sparked an online frenzy that continued unabated to just last week, with Del Rey the head-fucked nucleus of a point-of-no-return for webzine music journalism, something like the post-Pitchfork equivalent of the God-wind climax in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. So if that's anything to go by, a full LP should just about unite heaven and hell, the Alpha and the Omega, Joanie and Chachi and The Osmonds, even though George is dead.
The rollercoaster ride that Lana Del Rey has been on since she made her YouTube debut six months ago is nothing short of stunning. From the accolades piled onto that initial song, "Video Games," to the staggeringly bad Saturday Night Live performance, it looks like the very people who created her tidal wave of hype have become determined to undermine it. But she actually does it all by herself on Born To Die.