Lana Del Rey – Born To Die (Polydor/Interscope)
February 20, 2012 by Angela Okhumoya
Lana Del Rey came under fire with criticism almost as soon as her record contract was signed. She was accused of being a fake, just another manufactured pop dolly with the hype machine backing her. Rumours of a rich father financing her career, critics accusing her of not writing her own songs and claims that she had plastic surgery. Then there’s the SNL performance, criticising her vocal that night and the rumours of tour cancellations. This kind of criticism and drama is usually reserved for year 2 of a pop star’s career depending on how wild the pop star in question is and these days the ‘wild factor’ is a sure fire selling point in the pop game just ask Gaga and Minaj.
So what’s prompted this immediate negative reaction and back lash from the press and the industry, for someone that’s barely begun troubling the airwaves?
She’s a 25 year old songstress from New York who’s first single ‘Video Games’ was a massive YouTube hit, which got her the attention of two major labels Polydor and Interscope who subsequently signed her.
Despite the negative criticism Lana’ style appeals to me; she’s a go between from indie to pop, her vocal range is limited but I appreciate the tone of her voice it’s lower and raspy in parts get’s higher when required, it’s a nice change from the shouty Whitney-esqe females that are out there, no disrespect to the recently departed Whitney Houston who was the only one that could pull off that style in my opinion but she spawned a truck load of wannabes who quite frankly do my head in.
Lana’s sound and style is straight from the school of indie neo film noir, stylish Hollywood, off beat, dark and murderous. A film like American Beauty is in perfect reference to what I mean, Lana Del Rey is Mena Suvari in that film and she even looks, pouts and carries that sexual awakening badge like her.
Sonically her sound isn’t represented much in pop music at the moment; closest would be Anna Calvi or Florence and the Machine but not quite. The production on this record is in parts pumped by hip hop beats like on ‘Off To The Races’ where she sounds like an RnB/Hip Hop diva which is a style that reappears in songs like ‘Blue Jeans’ and ‘National Anthem’, in other parts the production is a downbeat, minimalist, Massive Attack style like on ‘Born To Die’. The haunting ‘Video Games’ as no beats but as a prominent harp, piano and strings in tow, the best song on this album by far.
Her song writing ability is better than most of her contemporaries in ‘Carmen’ she seems to describe the life of LA celeb party girls like Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton “She says “you don’t want to get this way, Street walk at night, and a star by day” It’s tiring, tiring” . But her writing is not earth shattering either, some of it can come off sounding fairly banal but this is a good effort for a debut. I wouldn’t write her off just yet, she seems to have more to offer than most.