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The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Lana Del Rey smolders with new album

(Courtesy of Interscope)

Lana Del Rey, whose major label debut “Born to Die” came out January 31, is one of the most hyped new artists in recent memory.  She managed to sell out a gig in London in half an hour on the basis of one song posted on YouTube.

That song, “Video Games,” appears alongside 11 other songs produced (either entirely or in part by) Emile Haynie, a rap producer whose most substantial work prior to “Born to Die” was for Kid Cudi.

The album’s greatest strength is in the production. Haynie brings drum machines and string samples into the music, which combines with Del Rey’s soft vocals to make the album sound like trip-hop. Several reviewers have compared this album to Portishead’s first two albums.

However, “Born to Die” is not as good as those albums. Portishead’s vocalist, Beth Gibbons, is rather expressive and delivers strong performances. On the flip side, Del Rey is a weaker performer and sticks to more of a “spoken singing” style with the occasional rap outburst. This fits her persona, a self-styled “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” who is influenced by 60s icons and rappers.

It also seems that Del Rey  is being set up as a new retro sex icon. Most of the songs on the album are either about Del Rey seducing someone with her looks (“Swimming pool glimmering darling, white bikini off with my red nail polish, watch me in the swimming pool”) or being in an empty relationship. Perhaps she wouldn’t be in these loveless relationships if she selected a mate based on personality instead of looks?

Some of the lyrics seem to be written only to sound provocative. The song “National Anthem” begins with Del Rey saying, “Money is the anthem of success.” I can’t think of any possible meaning this statement could have.

Later on in the same song, Del Rey cheerfully sings, “I sing the national anthem while I’m standing over your body, hold you like a python and you can’t keep your hands off me or your pants on.” While she makes this sound sexy, I can’t help but think that this is the set-up to an Aristocrats joke.

I should note that not all of the songs are borderline obscene. “Video Games,” the song that propelled Del Rey to fame overnight, is a song about a relationship in which Del Rey and a man spend their time together drinking or playing video games. While the lyrics are sweet, the music and vocals sound incredibly sad.

“Born to Die” is a record with a unique background, combining 1960s era sex symbols, rap production styles of the 1990s and 2000s, and the lack of sexual inhibitions present in today’s pop music. The wildly sexual lyrics detract from the interesting beats, and Del Rey’s vocal style will turn some people off. This record was definitely overhyped, but Lana Del Rey is going to be an interesting act to watch.

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About the Contributor
John Kesler
John Kesler, Opinion editor
Opinion editor, spring 2012. Staff member, fall 2011.

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Lana Del Rey smolders with new album