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Born to Die Bores

Troy Mathew | Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lana Del Rey is someone a lot of people love to hate.

Del Rey was first thrust into the spotlight with the success of her melancholic single “Video Games.” The song’s video, a collection of lo-fi video clips and pictures, became one of the most watched videos on YouTube, and suddenly Del Rey was a hot topic of conversation.

Most of the criticism arose from the fact that Del Rey had the audacity to come from a privileged background. Del Rey originally recorded music as Lizzy Grant, but re-emerged with a totally revamped image — and a significant amount of plastic surgery. Being the daughter of a millionaire, many saw Del Rey as an engineered and inauthentic indie artist who bought her way into the music industry. When Del Rey was invited to perform on Saturday Night Live in January, she had a chance to silence her critics.

She did precisely the opposite.

Her performance was terrible. The statuesque Del Rey slunk awkwardly around the stage, stared into the crowd with a dissociated gaze and mumbled through her songs. The subtle melodies in her songs became tuneless mutterings. Perhaps her giant collagen-balloon lips muffled her voice, because the bizarre resulting noise sounded like a Japanese man trying to speak English with a German accent. Del Rey was scoffed at by critics and was deemed SNL’s worst act since Ashlee Simpson’s lip-syncing disaster in 2004.

Considering these recent events, there was a lot of hype surrounding Del Rey’s debut album. She doesn’t seem to be quite as enthused, however, because “Born to Die” features track after track of Del Rey sounding bored.

The album features a couple of spectacular songs, however. “Video Games” deserves the tens of millions of YouTube hits it garnered. Her hit single is the best song on the album, and the song’s minimalist production makes it stand out from the other tracks.

“Born to Die,” her second single, is also worth a download. The song features pounding drums and raspy vocals, which swirl into a depressing yet enjoyable musical experience. Del Rey’s hit singles seem to suggest she is at her best when she is at her saddest.

The other songs on the album rob these singles of their brilliance. “Dark Paradise,” along with the majority of the other songs, has a nearly identical drumbeat to “Born to Die” and is replete with cliché lyrics and vapid vocals. Although her voice sounds significantly better on the album than it did on SNL, there are definitely moments on the album that call to mind her horrific performance.

Ultimately, the problem with “Born to Die” does not lie in the fact that Del Rey’s image is inauthentic. It lies in the fact that this contrived image is not interesting or convincing. Del Rey, the self-proclaimed “Gangster Nancy Sinatra,” thinks peppering her songs with phrases like “gettin’ paper” will make up for her upstate New York prep school past, but she is unfortunately mistaken. The album has two good singles to show for it, but overall is a repetitive and boring debut effort.

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