Lana Del Rey, (also known as Elizabeth Grant), first came to public attention after going viral with several self-made music videos for Blue Jeans and Diet Mountain Dew, two tracks from her newly-released debut album Born to Die, a full album of hypnotic and enchanting tones for all to enjoy. Since then the songstress has had chart success with two officially released singles Video Games and Born to Die.
Even before the release of the album on the 30th of January, Del Rey had already attracted her fair share of attention after a series of live television performances, one of which sparked a debate about her talent, song-writing skills and performance style. The performance in question was when she featured as the musical guest on the very popular American television show SNL (Saturday Night Live). Viewers to whom Del Ray was unknown overlooked the low and sometimes embarrassingly cringe-worthy comedy that they were watching, judging her separately on a rushed and nerve-wracking performance – her first on American television. If those who judged Del Ray from that performance had done their research (even a quick Google), they would have come across her better performances, which would have enabled them to make a fairer judgement. They would have undoubtedly heard that subtle, varied and incredibly indescribable voice that enchants her entire album. It’s fair to say that the harsh critics would have thought twice before tweeting the incredibly harsh things that they said.
The themes of the album have honestly been seen before; failed relationships, love, drinking and parties. But each track comes with a surprising and undeniable amount of raw emotion that can only come from personal experience. Even Del Rey herself said “I get very sad when I play that song (Video Games). I still cry sometimes when I sing it”. This emotion brings the album into context and takes the attention away from a few unusual lyrics that feature in several of the songs.
Some tracks immediately stand out to me as astounding and precious in their own right. Video Games being the obvious choice, favourite of both Del Rey and many fans. Heavenly acoustics and meaningful lyrics which are sang in Del Ray’s noticeably husky voice create an almost dream-like atmosphere filled with sadness and reflection “It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you/ Everything I do.” Whilst the catchy pop tones of Lolita give the album a much-needed lift after several tracks of sadness and reflection.
All in all, Born to Die is a beautiful, haunting and not always radio friendly first album that leaves Lana Del Rey in a good position to show us what she is truly made of. All of those who complain about a nervous performer without any other reason than the fact her father is rich should just be quiet and go away. I’m sure the meaningless and heavily auto-tuned Sexy and I Know It will tide you over until the next Ke$ha album.
By Emma Smith