Friday, 27 January 2012

Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

'I would wait a million years’ Del Rey said on Blue Jeans. It feels like we’ve been waiting about that long for Born To Die since the hype machine churned out story after story, both degrading and heralding the 25 year old New Yorker about the longevity of her music and her physical attributes, but that’s another story. Pouting her way through live performances and interviews, she owns the most talked about lips this year and plays up to the whole doe-eyed innocent act which has made people fall in love with her and appeared on so many magazine covers already in 2012. Labeling her music at the start ‘Hollywood sadcore’, Video Games certainly adhered to this with spliced footage of old Hollywood and her emotive vocals. Ever since its release, there’s been constant talk about whether the album will live up to one of the best songs of 2011.

Perhaps to please fans, the first five tracks of Born To Die are ones we’re already familiar with. Whilst Off To The Races, Born To Die, Blue Jeans and Video Games stay untarnished, Diet Mtn Dew receives some production adjustments; sprinting through the song and giving it a rather callous nature as the intro is a chorus of discordant vocals that sound as pleasant as nails down a chalk board. More often than not, artists tamper with perfectly good songs, make a right mess and end up with something less aurally pleasing than they started with. Although, there’s no doubt that standing alone, these are strong songs but hearing them together consolidates just why Lana Del Rey has become so popular over the past few months.

Standout ‘National Anthem’ incorporates the two styles Del Rey switches between for a patriotic anthem. Many photographs of Lana Del Rey show her flaunting her patriotic nature, whether that is by saluting in front of the American flag or wearing a baggy sweater with the American flag on it so it was only a matter of time until she transferred this into song. You can hear the 4th of July fireworks fizzling and crackling in the background as the sweeping violins, that sound eerily close to those on The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony, foreground and then quickly switch to a hip hop beat as Lana half raps, half sings, reminding us that she ‘grew on hip hop’. She epitomizes the corruption of the American Dream as she asks ‘Money is the anthem of success/so before we go out, what’s your address?’ hinting that where you come from reflects on your wealth. What on the surface is a catchy ode to America is actually rich with dark and sexual themes. The subject of money and sex having a close relationship is also the clearest here as she sings ‘Money is the anthem/God you’re so handsome’

In the second half, Lana swaps chiming orchestral elements for brash drums and high pitched bratty pop vocals. As a whole, Born To Die has an early ’00 pop vibe to it and parts sound like a mix between Nelly Furtado and Gwen Stefani but unmistakably there are resemblances to older artists such as Nancy Sinatra and the cartoon Jessica Rabbit. There are a lot of points on the album where the instrumental sounds borrowed but you can expect that from any pop album nowadays. Already developing into a major artist on the strength of her first two singles alone, Born To Die will push her further into the spotlight. The only question is whether she’ll thrive or squint her eyes and hope for a moment of darkness.


By Aurora Mitchell

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