Lana Del Rey – Born To Die

June 17, 2012 at 12:45 PM | Posted in Lana Del Rey | 3 Comments

ALBUM REVIEW
Lana Del Rey – Born To Die

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

♦ ♦ ♦

Born To Die is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey, released on January 27, 2012. The album was released to mixed reviews but topped the charts in 9 countries and was certified 2x Platinum in France and Australia. The album had sold over 1,500,000 copies as of February 29, 2012.

I didn’t like Lana Del Rey instantly, but Born To Die was the first song I was actually drawn to. Strings lead into a soft hiphop beat with Lana and a male vocalist introducing the track. True, Lana’s voice is a bit monotonous, but since the song is pretty haunting itsself it completely fits. The chorus is my favorite part when the strings come in again and Lana steps away from her lower pitch for a second when she sings ‘Can we take a walk on the wild side, let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain‘. This is a goosebump track and a good album opener.

Off To The Races comes off as a bit creepy to me, but it’s all in a positive sense. In this track Lana immediately shows another side of her than I know from tracks like Born To Die and Video Games, her vocals are higher pitched, they have more personality at times and I love how they mixed with the bumping hiphop beat. The male screaming ‘WOW!’ every now and then adds to how catchy the song actually is. This song is filled with life, mostly thanks to Lana’s amazing high vocals (which I didn’t know she had).

The male shrieking doesn’t really fit the laid back quality of Blue Jeans, but I did really like the guitar plucking, very rock ‘n’ roll but still the song is urban. Her lyrics also sent me back to the rock ‘n’ roll age when she mentions James Dean. There’s a little goosebump moment when Lana sings ‘I will love you till the end of time, I would wait a million years‘, it’s beautiful. The song kinda steps out of the ballad zone for a moment when percussion comes in for the bridge, which is the point where you feel the tension in the song building up.

Video Games was ofcourse the first song I heard, and I thought it was pretty bad, only because of her vocals. I didn’t really give it much of a listen until now and I must say I can appreciate more now in the context of the rest of the album. The song has an enchanting ambience, thanks to church bells, a harp and soft strings in the background. As the song progresses, it builds up and more little instrumental details mix in. Lana’s voice is breahty when she sings ‘Heaven is a place on earth with you, tell me all the things you wanna do‘, one of my favorite parts in the song.

Lana’s gangster side comes out again with Diet Mountain Dew when she chants ‘You’re no good for me, baby you’re no good for me, you’re no good for me, but baby I want you, I want you‘. The hiphop beat is very powerful, but the piano and strings are soft and the guitar riffs remind me of 50s rock ‘n’ roll again, so that’s a great hybrid. There’s a lot in this song that makes it catchy: her chanting, the arrangement, the lyrics. It’s a song you have to love when you listen to the album.

National Anthem opens with a lovely strings arrangement and firework sounds, but if you ask me this song is pretty dark hiphop. Lana raps her lyrics almost all the way through, but she handles it with flair, especially when she says ‘I’m your national anthem, God you’re so handsome, take me to the Hamptons, Bugatti Veyron‘. I’m a hiphop lover and Lana’s take on it amazes me. I love the chorus when the background vocals sing while Lana contrasts her rap with it and the strings arrangement build up. Never thought I would actually love it.

Dark Paradise is the highlight of the album according to a lot of people, but in my honest opinion it’s ‘just’ one of them. The echoed percussion is very haunting, but the strings are soothing and the singing melody is attractive (‘Every time I close my eyes, it’s like a dark paradise. No one compares to you, I’m scared that you won’t be wating on the other side‘). There is almost a sense of magic in this song like there is in no other, it’s laid back but still pulling you and enchanting you.

The next song is supposed to be the album’s summer anthem, and although it’s not really summer-ish in my opinion, it is when you compare it to the rest of the album. Radio has haunting verses, but the chorus take it to a more lighthearted level ( ‘Now my life is sweet like cinnamon, like a fucking dream I’m living it‘) while Lana sings in a high pitched and airy voice. As the song progesses it gets better and better, and the repeated chorus keeps building up towards the end and the entire song becomes extremely infectuous.

Carmen is the first song that wasn’t a real standout track to me, although it has its moments. It’s a real sadcore song about a girl called Carmen and it tells her moving story. There’s not anything that can make this song catchy to me, the arrangement stays constant all the way through, but the haunting quality and sad lyrics are quite compelling. The spoken French in the bridge adds something unique as well. Not the best track, not the worst.

Lana steps into the jazz zone with this song in triple time. Million Dollar Man is a very nice creation, very well produced with an attractive mix of piano melodies, echoed percussion and soft strings. Lana’s vocals are the real highlight of the song, very sultry and emotional at some points. I love when she sings ‘One for the money, two for the show, I love you honey, I’m ready I’m ready to go‘ against that building up arrangement. Unique track and definitely one of the best.

The thing I noticed most about Summertime Sadness was the echoeing marching drum beat that was really appealing, but it gets really interesting when the beat goes faster in the second chorus. It makes it a little bit more uptempo, and that’s exactly what I need at this point. The previous songs were all sadcore songs, I need something with a beat, and this song grants my wish in some way. The chorus is repeated often, but the singing melody, lovely strings and marching drums make it pretty catchy after a couple of times.

This Is What Makes Us Girls grants that craving for beats even more. It’s a relaxed song set to a loud beat that draws a little from hiphop again, and it’s about a time we all know or knew well (especially when you’re a girl): the time when your were sixteen years old. Rebellious but girly, a theme that I even heard in her vocals during this track while she reminisces her teenage years with ‘the only friends she ever had’. It’s a song that screams ‘Just go ahead and enjoy life, be a girl to the fullest’.

Without You is both light and emotional at the same time, and if you ask me it’s different from the rest of the tracks. The strings are enchanting, the percussion plays firm in the background while Lana’s vocals are higher pitched and quite fragile in contrast to that firm beat. I love her lines ‘Hello, hello, ca-can you hear me, I can be your China doll if you want to see me fall‘. It’s a song that stays stuck in your head for a while thanks to the lighthearted elements.

Although personally I thought the title didn’t imply it, Lolita is actually one of the darkest songs on the album, very haunting and mysterious. It’s an interesting song due to the very nice hiphop beat, screams in the background and Lana’s sultry and playful (sing-song) vocals. The playfulness of her vocals and the echoed/distorted effects at some points actually add to the mysterious ambience of the song.

Lucky Ones is the last track and it immediately caught my attention with its magical ballad ambience and Lana’s high pitched vocals singing to the deep bass beat, soft strings and church bells. This track carries a lighter feel, especially when placed right after Lolita. Her vocals are angelic and celestial, a complete change from the rest of the album. No darkness, no dark side of love, but happiness and soft music. This track is one of the best on the album, just in time.

Okay, so now I’m sitting here with my mouth wide open like a freaking codfish because I ACTUALLY LIKE LANA DEL REY o.O  There was only one song I liked a little less than the rest, and even that one wasn’t bad at all. There are some moments on the album I wished for a little change, but I wasn’t ever bored, not even by her vocals (which I expected to be dull and plain but they weren’t). Lana has a real talent, her music is interesting and unique and she kept me listening for 15 tracks, that’s special. I’ve only experienced that with Lady Gaga’s first album, that one also had numerous great tracks that were almost all memorable. Lana really showed me what she’s all about, and I’ll be watching her from now on!

Favorite tracks: Born To Die | Off To The Races | Blue Jeans | Video Games | Diet Mountain Dew | National Anthem | Dark Paradise | Million Dollar Man | Without You | Lucky Ones

OVERALL RATING

stars

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3 Comments »

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  1. I’m so glad you reviewed this album! It’s definitely my favourite of the year so far. The more I listen to it, the more I fall in love with it. I can’t even really pick a favourite song because it’s always changing!

    • Thanks for your comment! And also thank you for getting me into her music, that was actually thanks to your post about her album, it made me so curious and this is the result ^o^

      • Wow, I’m so happy you decided to check it out!


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