In my eighteen years of life, I’ve been exposed to many different types of music. My dad introduced me to Bruce Springsteen at a very young age, and my mom liked to talk about the Beatles as I grew up. I used to fall asleep in my dad’s arms as he danced me around to Chris Isaak and Frank Sinatra. On road trips we always turn on Little Steven’s Underground Garage, jamming to the most random yet awesome selection of songs ranging from Tracey Ullman’s old school They Don’t Know to The Dollyrots’ hit Because I’m Awesome. I’ve got a huge appreciation for older music of all kinds as well as newer hits found on stations like Little Steven’s, but I also find myself taking a look at the Top 100 every so often and trying to find some type of actual talent because, let’s face it, I can’t sit there and tell you that a song like Stupid Hoe gives me hope for humankind. Despite my lack of interest in music such as that, I still do my best to keep an open mind upon hearing something new, and I don’t let popularity of an artist (or lack of popularity) get in the way of my opinion. Whether 13 year old girls or the elderly are into a specific artist, I base my thoughts around what I have come to know about good music and I look at many different aspects of the overall song, album, or artist at hand.
Recently, I decided to take a look at an artist who I had been curious to learn more about for quite a while: Lana Del Rey. I was shocked to discover that what reeled me in at first was her vocal resemblance to Stevie Nicks, although Lana’s voice is much more pure. Her voice also has an interesting range, making her sound like an entirely different person at times. It’s debatable, though, whether her talent is used in a productive way or not. I came across a link on this site about her debut album, Born To Die (http://www.tinymixtapes.com/music-review/lana-del-rey-born-die), and discovered that Lana has implied that she just desires fame because she doesn’t want to be alone. For some reason, people think this (as well as her beauty) makes her a goddess when really she just seems to outright admit she isn’t really doing this for a respectable purpose. If I’m reading into it too much, let me know. I just think all forms of art should be very personal and meaningful to the artist and while that may be how Lana feels when writing, she doesn’t really help herself out when she acts like that doesn’t play a big role in her desire to release her work.
While I didn’t like a good chunk of Born To Die and agree with those who say it’s incredibly depressing as a whole, I was looking forward to the release of Paradise because the single she put out earlier, Ride, gave me a really good feeling about what would come next from the singer. While the music video for the song was all-around strange due to the dialogue and just added to my impression that Lana only craves a few things in life (fame, sex, getting high, much older men, sex, being reckless, party dresses, and sex), the song itself showed off her talent in a way I appreciated and I thought “hey, maybe this album will have less fluff and more quality”. This song makes me feel really good about her overall, because I see that she has the ability to showcase her voice beautifully. It’s still a bit depressing, that’s undeniable, but the chorus picks up and just makes you feel…good. It’s a freeing song. It’s nice. Because of this, I had high hopes for the second track on the newly-released Paradise, titled American. I’ll be honest, I can’t really tell where Lana is going with this song. However, I do think it shows off her vocals in a very flattering way much like Ride does, and she hooked me in when she complimented Springsteen by calling him “the king” (which is ironic considering she talks about Elvis in the second verse). Considering Springsteen is my favorite artist of all time, I was happy she could recognize good music and my heart felt all fuzzy inside and I thought “I knew this would be a great album! I knew it!”, which may have been a bit naive but I’m a sucker for Springsteen compliments. The track ended and my hopes were higher than ever as I eagerly awaited hearing the beginning line of the next song…
“My pussy tastes like Pepsi-Cola…”
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.
THIS is what it has come down to?! My literal thought was “WTF?!” Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed. I can’t say I’m surprised because after all, it’s Lana Del Rey! But I really thought I was getting something different with this album, and she had led me on for two whole tracks. She’s also apparently trying to get the current man in her life (one of many) to cheat on his wife because his wife “wouldn’t mind”. She follows this up a bit later with “I pledge allegiance to my dad for teaching me everything he knows”. All I know is, if I was Lana’s dad, I would either be pissed at her for saying such a thing…or I’d be upset with my life choices because it would appear that I did something very very wrong.
Alright, next track: Body Electric. A track giving off false family history (close relations to both Elvis and Marilyn Monroe) and sharing Lana’s partying experiences with Jesus, who is her “bestest friend”. Enough said.
Up next we have Blue Velvet, which is nothing special but it’s a nice, calming song that I could probably pass out listening to if I wanted. It is followed by a song called Gods & Monsters, about how Lana wants to be “fucked hard” and how she’s just an “angel” living in a “garden of evil”. Literally the entire song is about how she wants it to be given to her…hard. It’s “innocence lost” despite how many other times she’s sung about her sex cravings and experiences. But my favorite part is the part where she goes “Like a groupie incognito posing as a real singer. Life imitates art.” Again, I might be reading into her quotes too deeply but it doesn’t get any more blunt than that. This is why “I’ve got a war in my mind” too, Lana. I can’t tell if I hate what you stand for because you have an amazing voice. They don’t exactly go hand in hand, but I can’t bring myself away from your music even though some of it makes me mad. The next track has a type of beauty to it; Yayo is suggestive but at least we don’t have to hear anything in-depth about her personal…er, flavor. Bel Air is what we end with, another track that isn’t so bad. Nothing about either track really stuck out to me besides Yayo having some impressive vocal range.
Overall, I can’t say I love this album. I expected it to be ten times better than what it is, but I’m also not surprised with the result. I guess that’s what you get with Lana Del Ray. I’m starting to wonder if she does this on purpose, how she mixes the really intense, weird stuff right in between some lighter, nicer tunes. What I can respect is that she supposedly writes every word she releases. I don’t know what to believe since I’ve read otherwise, but I’ve seen quotes from her about how she is the sole creator of every line. If she truly comes up with it all, that’s great, and in that way she isn’t putting her voice to waste. That almost makes up for the ridiculous path to which some of her lyrics travel. I will say, though, that if any of her crazier songs get to be the more popular singles that I hear on the radio, I’ll be pretty upset with whoever voted for them over something like Ride. I know that crazy things have become more of the norm, but why? Why do such ridiculous songs become so popular? If they were well-known because they are outright ridiculous, that’d make sense and I wouldn’t think twice about it. I get the whole “release it for shock-value” thing. Sure, go right ahead. It’ll give you fifteen minutes of fame and you can be on your way. But the idea that songs that have absolutely no point, are degrading, and have artists with absolutely no talent and that don’t put any work into the music…the idea that these songs are thoroughly enjoyed by the general public is what makes me sick. (Clearly I’m talking about things beyond the likes of Lana Del Rey at this point.) When I say “artists with absolutely no talent and that don’t put any work into the music” I do really like to put those two together because an artist with no strong vocal abilities can still manage to put out something great, especially in genres like rock n roll, punk, and metal. It’s an acquired taste, sure, but at least those artists still stand for something and get their points across the table. All I’m sayin’ is I’d like to see someone with a voice like Lana’s get recognition for the things she’s doing right rather than wrong.
Before this turns into any more of a semi-irrelevant rant on the modern-day music industry, I’ll conclude my review on this young lady by saying that I will probably purchase the Born To Die: Paradise Edition bundle simply because I do enjoy listening to her good work. I’m a person that likes having physical copies of CDs, so I’d rather buy the whole thing than just a few songs I REALLY like, because her other work is decent even though some of it is just weird. If I was her (even though I’d choose being Taylor Dodson over her any day), I would have just released the following lineup as ONE CD, maybe self titled or just called Born To Die or Paradise, whatever the hell sounds best:
1. Born To Die
2. Video Games
3. Dark Paradise
4. Million Dollar Man
5. Summertime Sadness
Naturally, her other work would have a setlist like this:
1. Off To The Races
2. Blue Jeans
3. Diet Mountain Dew
4. National Anthem
7. This Is What Makes Us Girls
8. Without You
10. Lucky Ones
12. Body Electric
13. Blue Velvet
14. Gods & Monsters
15. Bel Air
The title of that collection?