Album Review: Born To Die – Lana Del Rey

With a stage name and persona that has come to embody her and all she stands for, Lana Del Rey is much like Halsey – not only does she use a stage name as well, but both singers are mysterious and unique. Along with her unorthodox sound and strange-but-deep lyrics, Del Rey’s growing popularity is cemented by her obviously talented vocals and knack for making summer singles. Her debut album was released in 2012, titled Born To Die, and since then she has released several studio albums. Similar to the likes of Halsey and Florence + The Machine, Lana Del Rey is changing the music industry as we know it.

The album cover.
The album cover.

The title track, Born To Die, starts with instrumentals not dissimilar to a movie scene, before going into a song laden with strange beats and Lana’s smooth, deep voice. One thing that quickly sets her apart from other popular female artists is the way she can precisely and accurately hit high and low notes alike. The next track, Off To The Races, intros the vocals within the first second or so – a sharp contrast to the previous. With phrases like “cocaine heart” and a clear reference to Lolita (“I’m your little scarlet, starlet/singing in the garden”), the song seems to be Lana comparing herself and her gangster-esque boyfriend to the plot of Lolita – terrifyingly dark for a song. Blue Jeans, the third track, is just as odd as all the other songs, using a repeated sound of what appears to be someone yelling. The second verse sounds like a plea from Lana for her lover to stay, and the chorus only reaffirms this, with lyrics like, “I will love you ’til the end of time/I will wait a million years”. Video Games follows Blue Jeans, and begins with the clever use of strings and a harp. When listening to the sound, Del Rey seems to have a slightly melancholy, catchy sound, but the lyrics are shockingly dark. Diet Mountain Dew is closer to the stereotypical pop sound, but still not quite there. The lyrics are not quite as sinister as its musical counterparts seem to be, yet they still feature the rebellious feel that gives Lana her name. The eleventh track, Summertime Sadness, was Del Rey’s first hit single, and widely regarded as a must-listen for any summer event. The lyrics are more similar to Diet Mountain Dew, in that they aren’t nearly as tragic as Off To The Races, for example. This Is What Makes Us Girls capitalizes on how rebellious Del Rey is, and is almost a breakup song – just not in the typical way (Does Lana do anything typically? Then again, it’s part of what makes her so successful). Lolita, the second to last track, follows the underlying theme of the book by Vladimir Nabokov. The lyrics clearly indicate that Lana sees herself almost as a child “(I know that I’m a mess with my long hair/and my sun tan, short dress, bare feet”), adding to the creepy vibe portrayed throughout the album.

Lana Del Rey.
Lana Del Rey.

Touring with the likes of Courtney Love and Grimes, and having Summertime Sadness covered by twenty one pilots, Lana Del Rey is quickly on the rise in alternative music.

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