I am a sucker for Best Of/Year End lists. So when I find an relative unknown (or at least to me) on the list, it sparks my interest in whoever the artist is. That’s how I found out about Lana Del Rey, and her first single “Video Games.” After a couple of times through the song, I came up with a personal conclusion that she is, to put it nicely, bad. But alas, I cannot judge an artist off of one song. That’s just unprofessional.
That’s why I waited for her four song EP. Those songs, which I’ll get to below, only reinforced my personal opinion of disliking her. And an awful SNL performance didn’t help matters at all. Now, her debut full length Born To Die is out there for the world to interpret their own ways. And after listening to the fifteen songs in their entirety, I can say with utter certainty that the album is worse than I expected it to be.
Born To Die starts off with the four songs off of her EP, starting with the self titled track. Backed by rather decent string parts (one of the only compliments that I will be giving out) and generic hip-hop beats, Del Rey unenthusiastically mumbles through each verse, singing what I believe are supposed to be rather optimistic lyrics. “Off to the Races” is the closest thing to a club hit on the album, changing her styles from a drunken slur to a Betty Boop-style emphasis once it gets to the chorus. “Blue Jeans” is a lazy love song, as this is the closest thing to match the dumb “Gangster Nancy Sinatra” persona that she is trying to push here. And then there’s “Video Games” itself; a repetitive, unenthusiastic ballad trying to get some sort of message of love across her mumbled lyrics.
Oh, and the lyrics. Born To Die as a whole has some of the worst lyrics I have ever heard in pop music. Here are just some of my favorite examples:
- “Tell me I’m your National Anthem/Ooh, yeah, baby, bow down/Making me so wow, wow” Honestly, an 8 year old could probably write better lyrics than these.
- “Diet Mountain Dew, baby, New York City/Never was there ever a girl so pretty/Do you think we’ll be in love forever?” My personal favorite drink has NO REASON to be in this song. None whatsoever.
- “This is what makes us girls/We don’t look for heaven and we pull off furs.” For a song called “This Is What Makes Us Girls,” I expected a bit more positivity, even some girl power in the lyric choices, but alas, they are not here.
Besides the ones above, she loves to talk about either falling in love with a boy or dying. And with her downer of a voice, just comes off as a fake, melancholic mess. She even sounds like she mumbles over her words, almost trying not to open up her HUGE lips. If she is trying to become the first artist ever to have a ventriloquist concert, then by all means go ahead and try. I bet that the doll she would be holding would have more pizzazz than her.
One complaint that I normally wouldn’t have towards an album is how long the entire thing is. Born To Die is 15 songs, and only over an hour long, but the album feels a whole lot longer than that. Maybe it’s because of the rather constant tempos (either really slow or slow most of the time), or how bored Del Rey sounds on each track, but Born to Die drags from track to track, waiting to finally end.
To my fellow critics out there who love what Lana Del Rey has put out so far, please go back and REALLY listen to it. It’s boring, zombified pop music wrapped in a package that screams “love me.” Not only do I not love Born To Die, I flat out hated it. Her lazy delivery, truly awful unoriginal lyrics, and no real direction drags this album to a complete halt right out of the gate. I normally do not remove albums from my computer’s memory unless it is corrupt, but I will have no problems wiping it clean of this mess.
Final Grade: D-
Go Download: Nothing.