The Third Lana – Album Review: Born To Die by Lana Del Rey
I am just so glad that I gave Lizzy Grant a.k.a. Lana Del Rey another chance.
The name Lana has always been a pivotal part of my path towards the meaning of life across this planet Earth. First, Kristin Kreuk forever redefined what
erotic exotic beauty means with her ungodly potrayal of Lana Lang in Smallville. That led to my first serious acoustic guitar, the handcrafted LL16, being knighted with the name Lana Lang 16. Now, I have stumbled upon my very third Lana. 3rd time’s not just the charm, it’s the BOMB.
Let’s just start by saying I am relieved I did not get caught up in all the hullabaloo that followed Del Rey’s “2nd coming” into the industry. A year or so ago, I invested my first interest in her sultry vocals during her stint as MTV’s Featured Artist of the Month as a snippet of “Video Games” was played on the pathetic CRT television in my room at Awana Kijal as I was just about to put on my offshore coverall. The video was a poignant picture of Instagram perfection, & she was a vision. She was prematurely & unluckily hailed as the new female revelation in pop even before her full-fledged album arrived.
Then mayhem struck & it all went to hell as I recall. So-called scandals about her pouty lips & the failed history as Lizzy Grant exploded. Her first live performance on Saturday Night Live was panned as (allegedly) the worse ever in the history of mankind. Suddenly, it seemed like the whole world including the Beliebers & the Directioners & the Minajes & the Wankers were against Del Rey. Nobody was really bothering about her music anymore. I gave her album ‘Born To Die’ a first listen, but somehow, perhaps I was in the wrong frame of mind right at that moment, or with the looming heavy shit following her becoming an unfortunate distraction, Del Rey failed to truly stick.
God then gave her, or rather me, another chance.
The Great Gatsby, starring the always-intense DiCaprio & the ever-delicious Carey Mulligan, had what could only be described as a tasteless & embarrassing soundtrack. It was however, blessed for a short interval with the same sultry vocals that are anything but forgettable, belonging to Del Rey. “Young & Beautiful” had equally horrendous lyrics (Oh that grace, oh that body, Oh that face, makes me wanna party – SERIOUSLY?), but the melody? Ethereal. Haunting. Spectacular. It was enough to pique my curiosity to give ‘Born To Die’ another try.
& you know what? I do not care about all her failed attempts prior to adopting the name Lana Del Rey. I do not care about her nervous, weak live deliveries. Oh, & that SNL “worse” live performance? Has anyone seen Taylor Swift at the Grammys? Or Miley Cyrus attempting to hit an actual note within the established musical scale? Or Ashlee Simpson’s lip-synching disaster on SNL? I could care less about her screwed-up videos, her lackluster personality, or her cringe-worthy songwriting skills; simply because ‘Born To Die’ is – in short – the best female pop album I’ve ever heard in the last decade since Holly Brook’s divine ‘Like Blood Like Honey’ (2006 post-Skylar Grey), Dido’s ‘Life For Rent’ (2003) & Sara Bareilles’ exemplary ‘Kaleidoscope Heart’ (2010).
While everybody was losing their marbles about everything else, nobody gave enough time and space to evaluate her album as just that – a musical expression in words & melody. The album is one heck of a solid ride from start to end, & – fact – one of the most cohesive pop efforts in awhile. The melodies are deliriously contagious & beyond gorgeous, & her unnatural range of longing vocal delivery gives the songs a remarkable edge. & I’m not just talking about “Video Games”, the suicidally addictive “Born To Die”, the epicness of “National Anthem” (a personal favourite) or “Blue Jeans”. I’m talking about EVERY SINGLE FUCKING SONG.
Her bonus re-release of ‘Born To Die: The Paradise Edition’ early this year just tops is all off nicely with the additional 8 lovely songs, from the straight-out-of-a-fairytale “Bel Air” to the fabulous “Ride” & alluring “Body Electric”. Yes, consistent too are the lyrics, again the low point, but the tunes are just too beautiful to ignore.
I guess all in all, Del Rey is perhaps the most compelling female artist of recent times, irrespective of your opinion of her. For me personally, her songs have completely overridden my car’s audio playlist & my iPod for 2 months solid now. In other words, in the past year, she’s just about the closest thing to a musical female deity right behind Kim Tae-yeon.
That is, if you can look past her expressing in tune about ‘her pussy tasting like pepsi cola’ or how ‘a man’s body & face make her wanna party’…