Lana Del Rey was 2012's it girl well before the release of her debut record, "Born to Die," all thanks to the lead single "Video Games." Coming in at number twelve on my list of the best tracks of 2011, Del Rey's beautiful yet dry delivery on "Video Games" seemed to provide a unique commentary on today's society.
Backed by a lush orchestration, the song took the world by storm and earned millions of plays on sites like YouTube months before the album's release. Del Rey even became the first artist to perform on Saturday Night Live before the release of their debut album since Natalie Imbruglia in 1998.
Lana Del Rey has two key vocal styles; a deep, soulful voice and a high-pitched whisper worthy of bubblegum pop. Before "Born to Die" hit the shelves, three singles were released on the internet, "Video Games," "Blue Jeans," and the title track "Born to Die," which each displayed an equal balance of both of these styles. Combined with her natural physical beauty, she painted the perfect picture of a marketable artist.
To say that "Born to Die" was a highly anticipated record would be an understatement, but the real question became whether or not the album could live up to the hype.
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
The three singles already familiar to early fans are easily the three best songs on Del Rey's 12-track debut. In fact, there isn't another song that comes close. Suddenly Del Rey's apparent honesty is replaced with a blatant materialistic mindset. "National Anthem" sheds the light on Del Rey's real driving force: Money.
Once Lana Del Rey gets her quality material out of the way, she dives into a sea of tracks that seem to repeat "I'll love you forever even though I know it's a bad idea" in as many different ways as possible. "Diet Mountain Dew" laughably repeats this motif. By the time "This is What Makes Us Girls" seems to imply that skipping school, drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, and stealing police cars while always looking her best is really who she is, Del Rey has lost every ounce of credibility she had originally earned.
It is truly a shame when an artist with as much potential as Lana Del Rey falls this short of expectations, but "Born to Die" mostly takes away from the lasting impact of the music we've already heard. "Video Games" is still a phenomenal recording worthy of continued praise and both "Summertime Sadness" and "Dark Paradise" do offer glimpses of future potential, but fans expecting an album of the year contender will likely be greatly disappointed.
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