Lana Del Rey
Born to Die
January 31, 2012
On June 29th, 2011, Lana Del Rey posted her first single, “Video Games,” to her YouTube channel. The song, often referred to as one of the best tracks of 2011, juxtaposes Del Rey’s haunting vocals with dazzling strings and lyrics that question the value of life if you spend it alone. What followed could only be described as a cyclone of internet buzz. “Video Games” achieved commercial success, critical acclaim, and the accompanying music video garnered over 24 million views on YouTube. Lana Del Rey’s rise to internet fame was a phenomenon that fascinated many (myself included), however, it also promised us more. “Video Games” painted a portrait of an artist that looks much different than the one we see today.
On January 30th, her full length album, which had been hyped up to an incredible degree, was released. Unlike “Video Games,” Born to Die lacks emotion, maturity, and constitutes a mediocre collection of clichés that disappoint from beginning to end. On the track “This Is What Makes Us Girls,” Lana whispers, “Pabst Blue Ribbon on ice” – a ridiculous attempt to connect with an audience that is no longer listening. At times, the lyrics become almost embarrassing to listen to. Phrases like, “Money is the reason we exist,” “Baby we’re on fi-yah,” and, “Baby, heaven’s in your eyes,” devalue great tracks like “Video Games” and subsequently weaken the album as a whole. Born to Die is an Internet buzz nightmare that crashed and burned after promising to deliver songs worthy of widespread critical acclaim. However, I don’t blame Lana Del Rey, I blame the Internet. One great single triggered an overdose of blogging, tumblr-ing, and tweeting that put Lana Del Rey on a high that she was destined to come down from.
As the daughter of Internet tycoon and multi-millionaire Rob Grant, her exposure was primarily due to her father’s income. Lana Del Rey’s album is packed with references to money, the Hamptons, and consumerist capitalism – lyrics that seem a little pretentious given her upbringing. As a college drop-out, Lana Del Rey once had dreams for herself that were within reach, but only for a moment. Her extremely uncomfortable appearance on SNL, paired with an over-hyped debut that completely lacks personality, may signal the beginning of the end for Lana Del Rey.
Although the product as a whole is less than desirable, there are high points on the album that deserve recognition. The title track, “Born to Die,” is a solid single with an effortlessly cool video to match, and “Blue Jeans” serves as a catchy homage to the 1950s. However, at its core, Born To Die is repetitive, simplistic, directionless, and easily forgotten. Lana Del Rey’s whirlwind of Internet hype reflects a generation that is infatuated with the new and hopelessly romanticizes anything “cool.” Lana Del Rey proclaims, “Money is the anthem of success,” on the track “National Anthem;” ironically, Lana Del Rey seems to have one without the other.