Transient

lana del rey // born to die

by jared silva
02.15.12

Lana Del Rey went down an interesting path to get to the level of prominence that she is at today. She started her career in 2008 under numerous pseudonyms with little to no notice from the American populous. She released a self-directed music video in August 2011 for her most recent song “Video Games” on YouTube and after a few noteworthy blog posts, the video went viral around the internet. Lana, with her soft voluptuous voice and 60s songstress elegance, was soon herald as the next big thing in the indie music scene.A few months later, she announced the release date of her major label debut album Born To Die would be in January and the tension built as we waited for her rise to popularity to soon take over the music world. But here we are now, actually having listened to the album, and man, talk about pulling the rug from right under you.

There seemed to be a lot of misconception placed on how Lana Del Rey would handle Born To Die before anyone had a chance to actually hear it. Her first single and the song most everyone know her for “Video Games,” regardless of the other songs supporting this album, is still a fantastic heartfelt song that uses both sad and sarcastic tones to describe a failing relationship with a disinterested boyfriend. It’s a powerful song that makes Del Rey seem vulnerable and merciful person easily becoming one of the sole highlights of the album. And then you hear all those other songs that completely changes your view on her as a person in an instant. Take for instance “National Anthem,” where she instead projects herself more as a shallow, money-grabbing socialite a la some sort of Paris Hilton figure. With similar songs like “Carmen” and “This Is What Makes Us Girls,” it’s obvious this theme takes over the album more so than the genuine tone found in “Video Games” and turns her self-proclaimed ‘Gangsta Nancy Sinatra’ persona into more of a ‘Melancholy Ke$ha.’

It’s hard to ignore how similar an outcome Lana Del Rey has received from scathing critics and underwhelmed fans with the last overly hyped indie sensation Tyler, The Creator and his major label debut early last year, Goblin. Both gained incredible amounts of fandom within days of their initial discovery, both had the weight of the world in pressure to create this masterful album to make fans proud to have heard them before you did, and both of them failed to meet the unprecedented, unrealistic hype that came from just one viral YouTube video. The slight difference here is that Tyler may have had more confidence in his work, whereas Del Rey’s efforts seem unimaginative and artificial. Even if it’s just a persona, it’s not an enjoyable one to hear for 50 minutes, as the album really drags to an end. And also like Tyler, The Creator, there is potential to be had here, it just doesn't need to be rushed next time. Now that she’s captured her fame, maybe she’ll take her time honing it alongside her music.

d+

favorite tracks // “video games,” “blue jeans”

Listen to Born To Die now, via Spotify.