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Lana Del Rey – Born to Die – review

Lots of hub-ub has been made over the release of Lana Del Rey’s sophomore effort Born To Die, and her subsequent performance on Saturday Night Live to promote the album.  Her performance has been called ‘the worst of all time’ by many, including NBC anchor Brian Williams (why we should care what Brian Williams has to say about the current musical climate on SNL is beyond me but…).  I was watching that performance live that evening, and in all honesty I didn’t really think anything of it either way.  She just seemed really bored while singing, but I never thought…oh my god…this is the worst performance I’ve ever seen!  Get her off the air now!  In all honesty the worst performance I’ve ever seen is Ashlee Simpson who didn’t even bother to perform, but lip-synched while on SNL.  I’m not sure if people hate Del Rey because she comes from New York money, or because she looks like and sings like she’s doped up on Vicodin all the time.  Lots of other famous musicians have been on a lot more than that and we love them.

All the negative press she’s been getting made me expect Born to Die to be a complete and utter waste of time, and probably one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard.  That’s not really the case however, and the negative publicity can probably only help Del Rey.  Born to Die is a remorseful and sorrowful album that has some very insightful songs along the way, but also suffers from too much filler and way too many songs overall.  Complete and utter crap though it is not.

What I can tell you is that Del Rey, along with some contributors, wrote all of these songs herself, which is more than I can say about over half of the garbage that people purchase and listen to today.  Del Rey is reminiscent of other singers that are very talented from the early 90’s, Poe (Angry Johnny), and Fionna Apple. Del Rey is able to infuse interesting textures in to melancholic songs like Summertime Sadness, Blue Jeans and her first single Video Games. She does get a little whiny and monotonic though in the middle of the album on songs such as Radio, Carmen and Million Dollar Man. For a sophomore effort this is far from the slump that most artists, especially solo artists, encounter.

She’s not re-inventing the wheel here, but there’s enough to make the album an interesting spin a few times.  You probably won’t be putting this album on repeat in your iPod, but it’s worth the listen, and it doesn’t really deserve all of the negative press she’s been getting.  This is good movement for Del Rey who plans to re-release her debut album Lana Del Rey A.K.A. Lizzy Grant in the coming months.  It’s what her next move is going to be that may end up defining her.

Grade: B-