Lana Del Rey’s captivating first single “Video Games” earned her an instant fan-base and nonstop media attention. All the hype leads up to the quick, and perhaps untimely, release of Born to Die, her debut album.
The album seems somewhat rushed. Fans wanted more of “Video Games,” and they wanted it fast. Most of the songs fall under two categories: cheap “Video Games” replicas and pop clichés. Songs like “National Anthem” and “Radio” are catchy and “Dark Paradise” has some of the elegance of that first single coming through, although nothing close to what Lana Del Rey should be capable of.
Lana plays the black swan to Adele’s white swan. “See how I’ll leave with every piece of you/ don’t underestimate the things that I will do,” sings the forward, confident Adele in her hit “Rolling in the Deep,” where Del Rey’s submissive persona in “Million Dollar Man” sings “One for the money/two for the show/ I love you honey/I’m ready to go.”
Needless to say, Born to Die has its faults. It’s perhaps the same concept that captured our attention with “Video Games” that is so off-putting about the rest of the album. The idea that in this age of female empowerment, a woman who belts out lines like “this is what makes us girls/we don’t stick together ’cause we put love first” (on the album’s last track, “This Is What Makes Us Girls”) surprises contemporary music fans.
So Lana Del Rey’s debut isn’t perfect. But what can you really expect from a new artist, thrust into the spotlight so quickly? If we give her a chance and more importantly, some more time, maybe Lana Del Rey will turn up with a more mature, confident, sophomore album. “Video Games” is still a stellar song, and “Born to Die” is good too. After all, she does have quite a voice. I wouldn’t write her off as a one-hit-wonder just yet.
WPGU Music Staff Rating: W-P
Key Tracks: “Born to Die,””Video Games,” and “Summertime Sadness”.
RIYL: Adele, Florence + The Machine, Lady Gaga.