The Vexing Way of Lana Del Rey

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February 21, 2013 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

My youngest sister and I have a new bargain, wherein she listens to one of the CD’s from my collection; in exchange, I have to listen to one of her albums.[1]  After she listened to Fleetwood Mac, it was my turn to listen to whatever she wanted to subjugate me to; she chose Born to Die by Lana Del Rey.  While there isn’t anything particularly good or special about the album or her songwriting skills, I found myself inexplicably intrigued by the album.

At its best, it’s an album that brings something new to the indie scene, namely sampling and hip-hop production and beats.  At its worst, she sounds like a B-version of Lady Gaga covering Pink’s “Just like a Pill”.  But for better or worse, the music IS Lana Del Rey.  Knowing nothing about her, except that she went to rehab at age 14, I feel like everything you need to know about her, as a person, is contained within the album.  One thing is made abundantly clear though, and that is that Lana Del Rey is an old soul.  The only problem though is that she sometimes tried to act much older than she really should be.  It’s almost as if she wants you to know that she’s an old soul who has experienced so much.

Judging by the album cover and certain song titles such as “Video Games” and “Diet Mountain Dew”, you’d probably think that this was the tritest, most stereotypical indie/hipster bullshit.  While that’s probably about a good 33% of the entire album, there are some redeeming factors.  For one, Del Rey does have a very good voice.  The production is very inspired by hip-hop and dance music, while the lyrics are melancholy and at times even apocalyptic.[2]  This serves to be a drawback halfway through the album however.  It seems like she’s in love with her own sadness, as if she seems to think that’s all she has working for her.

The way that the songs are recorded and produced sounds like she doesn’t really know what she wants to do.  She appears to be an indie star, but she dabbles into hip-hop, dance, and even alternative music multiple times throughout the album. Instead of appealing to one core audience, she sounds like she’s trying to grab the fringe members of various groups and cliques to form her own circle.  It’s a very weird thing, especially since there isn’t anything sensational about the album as a whole, maybe that’s why my curiosity’s piqued.

Eureka!  Just as a point of reference, this is the last paragraph I’ve written for this article, so if it seems more disjointed than usual, that’s why; I figured this was the best place to put this paragraph.  Re-reading this article, I figured out the last intangible about the album, its Achilles heel.  Born to Die is an incredibly melodramatic album.  No one likes melodrama, and the fact remains that for however old she feels, or should be, Lana Del Rey is still only a few years older than us, and Born to Die is her first full album.  However old she feels life has made her, when it comes to recording music, she is still a neophyte.  But she’s a beginner who’s trying too hard to sound like a seasoned veteran.  She can’t harness what she wants to say without sounding melodramatic and at times pretentious.

Born to Die isn’t an album I’ll recommend, but it’s one that I’ve listened to nonstop over the past few days.  Lana Del Rey has left me feeling very perplexed, so much so that I don’t know if I even dislike the fact that I don’t know.  I’m still trying to sort out all the different components, and I’d suspect that Lana Del Rey is still trying to do the same.


[1] It’s a really shitty deal for her; I have way more tricks up my sleeve that she has no idea about.

[2] The album is called Born to Die afterall.

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One thought on “The Vexing Way of Lana Del Rey

  1. […] fan says, “One thing is made abundantly clear though, and that is that Lana Del Rey is an old […]

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