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Lana Del Rey - Born To Die Album Cover

Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

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8.0
Lana Del Rey - Born to Die
Record Label: Interscope, Polydor, Stranger
Release Date: January 27th, 2012
Fame isn’t what it used to be.

Arguably, it’s better than ever.

One year ago, a twenty year old R&B artist from Montreal posted a mixtape on his website for download, armed with a couple famous blogging and musician friends. Now, The Weeknd has been hailed as the breakout star of 2011, hitting #1 on a host of influential year-end lists for his mixtape trilogy and being called the “best musical talent since Michael Jackson” by MTV. Modern fame and access to new music is a double edged sword though, cursed with a nasty habit of massacring any upstart with a host of skeletons in their closet. It’s hard to imagine how entertainers like Britney Spears or Madonna would’ve survived an authenticity test at the beginnings of their careers from tastemakers like Pitchfork or any other blog with a sizable audience and a swelled ego behind a keyboard. Imagination isn’t as readily needed for such a situation though as potential pop star Lana Del Rey is currently weathering such a background check with the release of her debut album, Born To Die.

Let’s go a different route with this review though. A Google search can pull up every review breaking down Ms. Del Rey’s beginnings, cartoon lips, crippling fear of singing on live TV, fallen angel status from the “good” graces of most blogs, and, for the most part, her purportedly fabricated life. If you’re lucky, you might find a review that briefly describes some songs off her album. The truly unfortunate aspect in the questioning of Lana’s authenticity in the pop music world (a debate which, in and of itself, is completely laughable) is that Born To Die is a pretty strong debut that meets the hype she’s built on most counts.

Born To Die opens with the title track, a slow burner that, backed with cinematic strings and a minimalistic beat, is tailor-made for Lana’s lounge singing vocals. It almost serves as a taste test for the rest of the album: if you like it, odds are you’ll fall for most of what follows. And the album does indeed show some mainstream potential along with keeping true to Del Rey’s depressed, hip-hop-laced pop image. “Dark Paradise” and “Blue Jeans” come off as song candidates for the next James Bond movie’s opening credits, meshing hazy R&B and sultry pop with ease. The album also shows off Lana’s knack for a good torch song, including her breakout single “Video Games” and the beautifully conflicted “Million Dollar Man”. Born To Die hits its peak though with its single-ready tracks, with album highlight “Radio” shining with sweetness and vulgarity and subtly catchy “Summertime Sadness” reminding why Lana’s been quietly building as a contender for pop chart takeover. The Lana haters will be gratified as well though, as certain parts of the album are ripe with identity crisis and duds. “Off To The Races”, the album’s lowest point and second track, is a mess of Lana drawling behind an obnoxious beat, culminating in a whiny chorus sure to turn some on-the-fencers away from listening any further. Fan favorites like “National Anthem” and “Diet Mountain Dew” have been reworked for the worser as well, losing their edge behind over-production enough to wish they were just b-side tracks.

By the time the PBR-repping closer “This Is What Makes Us Girls” rolls around, it’s clear this album will continue to fuel the polarizing fire between Del Rey’s praise and hatred. For some, the background details and the “Is she indie? Is she not?” dispute will only amplify the album’s more exploratory songs. For others, it’ll prove Lana’s rightful place as a candidate for 2012’s breakout star. As an album though, stripped away from its creator’s conflicted and questioned image? Born To Die is twelve tracks of refreshing pop in a world of obnoxious mainstream drivel, taking the “no frills, just talent” pop route capitalized by Adele and adding an R&B twist to it. It’s up in the air whether Lana’s reworked formula will eventually equate to success or just crush her under the pressure, but it’s clear that Lana Del Rey is very capable of being America’s most quirky pop star if fame works out just right.

8/10
This review is a user submitted review from luvsickcatalyst. You can see all of luvsickcatalyst's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 46
06:16 PM on 02/05/12
#2
cwhit412
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Five really good songs, tons of other crap. Still enjoy her though.
06:41 PM on 02/05/12
#3
Steve Alcala
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Lady Gaga? I don't see the comparison. Good review, awful album in my opinion though
06:44 PM on 02/05/12
#4
ladedadada
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James Bond: I totally thought that, too.
02:19 AM on 02/06/12
#5
simplejack
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I don't see the comparison with Lady Gaga too. I list her as a less tuneful Adele and I hear echoes of Amy Winehouse in the slow songs. Liking Video Games and National Anthem right now.
04:36 AM on 02/06/12
#6
blue_light_888
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Excellent review.
04:58 AM on 02/06/12
#7
Jeff_Ryan
easy come and easy go, whatever
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I like Lana a lot. She seems like a really nice girl.

This album is really far from perfect and some of the lyrics are straight up bad, but still, I can't help but enjoy the album. Other than "Video Games", "Radio" and "Lucky Ones" are my favorite tracks.

I'm also really glad I was able to get a copy of the Video Games b/w Blue Jeans 7"
05:40 AM on 02/06/12
#8
ladedadada
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05:45 AM on 02/06/12
#9
blue_light_888
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"Born To Die" is actually a pretty good track. I think I might actually check this out out of curiosity.
05:48 AM on 02/06/12
ladedadada
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It's good. It's too long and the production is weak sauce. But any individual song holds up
09:15 AM on 02/06/12
luvsickcatalyst
wander eyes, ocean high.
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Lady Gaga? I don't see the comparison. Good review, awful album in my opinion though
I don't see the comparison with Lady Gaga too. I list her as a less tuneful Adele and I hear echoes of Amy Winehouse in the slow songs. Liking Video Games and National Anthem right now.
I probably should've clarified, but I meant she resembles a much more subtle, Americana-obsessed version of Lady Gaga in regards to the way she's built her persona, not her music. I showed the "Born To Die" video off to two of my friends and both of them mentioned Lady Gaga within the first minute of the video. She definitely has a strong mind of how she should look to the point that it becomes almost a part of the music. In that respect, she is very much like Gaga.

And I was considering adding Adele to the RIYL, but I just couldn't. Adele truly is in another league musically than any other pop star out there and, as much as I really liked this album, it would overhype Lana too much to compare the two. I did find it justifiable to mention her in the review though.
09:25 AM on 02/06/12
Steve Alcala
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I probably should've clarified, but I meant she resembles a much more subtle, Americana-obsessed version of Lady Gaga in regards to the way she's built her persona, not her music. I showed the "Born To Die" video off to two of my friends and both of them mentioned Lady Gaga within the first minute of the video. She definitely has a strong mind of how she should look to the point that it becomes almost a part of the music. In that respect, she is very much like Gaga.

And I was considering adding Adele to the RIYL, but I just couldn't. Adele truly is in another league musically than any other pop star out there and, as much as I really liked this album, it would overhype Lana too much to compare the two. I did find it justifiable to mention her in the review though.
That makes sense. And she sounds like a poor mans Adele, lyrically and vocally.
12:27 PM on 02/06/12
Dat4
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Her singing=





I thinking if she wasn't trying so hard to be sexy she would be fine. But I just find her annoying.
05:06 PM on 02/06/12
Who Is Ryan?
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I'm really glad you a pretty good review, especially since basically everyone on here has an extreme hate for her. It doesn't help that every other professional music publication is basing her critiques on her as a person instead of the music.

I love the album, and I was totally blown away on how good it was. My standout tracks are definitely Diet Mnt Dew, National Anthem (even though the demo was kinda better), and Summertime Sadness
09:22 PM on 02/06/12
Jason Tate
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40%

Lyrics are poor. No innovation. Boring vocals. No emotion. All hype. All over inflated.

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