Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -
First of all, I do not look like that tattooed dude; second of all, my tattoos are way better.

The Velvet Underground produced four classic albums between 1967 and 1970; but they were all commercial failures. Even Loaded (1970), Lou Reed’s upmost attempt at commercialism, bombed, failing to produce even a modest hit single: a paradox for an album that was practically made for radio. Reed would go without a hit until 1972, when “Walk on the Wild Side” glamorized the gutter life of New York City and its superstars, and those colored girls went, “doo do doo, doo do doo, doo do doo.” The album that shortly followed, Transformer, is a personal favorite of mine (and my father’s all-time favorite album). Although Reed would soon return to making “difficult” music that took decades to fully appreciate (Berlin), his 1972 repackaging, with David Bowie and Mick Ronson at the production helm of Transformer, arguably saved his career. And if the change worked for Reed at thirty, it could certainly work for twenty-five year old Lizzy Grant, no?

Pardon me; her name is Lana now, Lana Del Rey. And her attempt at Transformer is Born to Die, a collection of white trash songstress filler with no business being associated with its otherwise excellent singles: “Video Games”, “Blue Jeans”, and the emphatic title track, “Born to Die”.

“Off to the Races” is a tonal mess, a motif on this record; Del Rey’s high pitched, skank vocal (the latter of her two primary registers, the other being not so difficult to sit through) shrieks some of the most self-indulgent gangsta nonsense you’ve heard uttered since Scarface. It’s hard to believe that “Video Games” was written by the same person who playfully sings, “Be a good baby, do what I want. Light of my life, fire of my loins. Gimme them gold coins.” And it doesn’t get much better. “National Anthem” isn’t up to the standard of the Katy Perry mega-hit that it pathetically masquerades as. “Diet Mountain Dew”, one of Lana's better unreleased songs, gets reworked here, with ill-fitting drums, more of those stupid yelping vocal samples, and even more wholesale orchestral swelling in place of substance.

“Dark Paradise” is tolerable, save for some embarrassing lyrics and a dull drum machine churning away in the background. “Million Dollar Man” I actually like, though; I mean, if Lana is going to consistently take this skanky, almost neon light-filled approach to songwriting, she might as well go all the way with it. I could easily picture her singing this one in Vegas, albeit not in front of as big a house as she probably thinks.

“This is What Makes Us Girls” blatantly shoots for the teen tragedies of Mary Weiss and the Shangri-Las, but it fails. Lana spends the entire record, with the exception of “Video Games” (an obvious outlier at this point), glorifying the leather laden bad boys with more and more lover’s rock; but the final song is a retrospective critique on that lifestyle. . . the obvious foolishness of be-all-end-all runaway love? Are you kidding? Any strong willed girl would have a field day with this song, but I’ll say this: “Video Games” was a masterful depiction of emotional dependency, whereas “This is What Makes Us Girls” is both cheap and demeaning. Not only does it imply an inherent weakness prevalent amongst all women, but it doesn’t work as a song. The narrative doesn’t flow, “that’s where the beginning of the end begun,” and just as she always does when cornered, Lana relies on quick tonal shifts that do fuck all to compensate for the poor instrumental structure.

By becoming Lana Del Rey, Lizzy Grant emulates an astounding company of past rock ‘n roll gimmicks—all of which were necessary to the artist’s success. David Bowie became Ziggy Stardust; Lou Reed became, well, a prettier Lou Reed; and the New York Dolls dressed up like a bunch of prostitutes. But unlike her forefathers (and sisters, in the Dolls’ case) she hasn’t made a great record, at least not yet. Born to Die is certainly no Transformer, and a true pop music “character” (and metamorphosis) simply isn't warranted by three good songs.

#1 Edited by Bruce (5264 posts) -
First of all, I do not look like that tattooed dude; second of all, my tattoos are way better.

The Velvet Underground produced four classic albums between 1967 and 1970; but they were all commercial failures. Even Loaded (1970), Lou Reed’s upmost attempt at commercialism, bombed, failing to produce even a modest hit single: a paradox for an album that was practically made for radio. Reed would go without a hit until 1972, when “Walk on the Wild Side” glamorized the gutter life of New York City and its superstars, and those colored girls went, “doo do doo, doo do doo, doo do doo.” The album that shortly followed, Transformer, is a personal favorite of mine (and my father’s all-time favorite album). Although Reed would soon return to making “difficult” music that took decades to fully appreciate (Berlin), his 1972 repackaging, with David Bowie and Mick Ronson at the production helm of Transformer, arguably saved his career. And if the change worked for Reed at thirty, it could certainly work for twenty-five year old Lizzy Grant, no?

Pardon me; her name is Lana now, Lana Del Rey. And her attempt at Transformer is Born to Die, a collection of white trash songstress filler with no business being associated with its otherwise excellent singles: “Video Games”, “Blue Jeans”, and the emphatic title track, “Born to Die”.

“Off to the Races” is a tonal mess, a motif on this record; Del Rey’s high pitched, skank vocal (the latter of her two primary registers, the other being not so difficult to sit through) shrieks some of the most self-indulgent gangsta nonsense you’ve heard uttered since Scarface. It’s hard to believe that “Video Games” was written by the same person who playfully sings, “Be a good baby, do what I want. Light of my life, fire of my loins. Gimme them gold coins.” And it doesn’t get much better. “National Anthem” isn’t up to the standard of the Katy Perry mega-hit that it pathetically masquerades as. “Diet Mountain Dew”, one of Lana's better unreleased songs, gets reworked here, with ill-fitting drums, more of those stupid yelping vocal samples, and even more wholesale orchestral swelling in place of substance.

“Dark Paradise” is tolerable, save for some embarrassing lyrics and a dull drum machine churning away in the background. “Million Dollar Man” I actually like, though; I mean, if Lana is going to consistently take this skanky, almost neon light-filled approach to songwriting, she might as well go all the way with it. I could easily picture her singing this one in Vegas, albeit not in front of as big a house as she probably thinks.

“This is What Makes Us Girls” blatantly shoots for the teen tragedies of Mary Weiss and the Shangri-Las, but it fails. Lana spends the entire record, with the exception of “Video Games” (an obvious outlier at this point), glorifying the leather laden bad boys with more and more lover’s rock; but the final song is a retrospective critique on that lifestyle. . . the obvious foolishness of be-all-end-all runaway love? Are you kidding? Any strong willed girl would have a field day with this song, but I’ll say this: “Video Games” was a masterful depiction of emotional dependency, whereas “This is What Makes Us Girls” is both cheap and demeaning. Not only does it imply an inherent weakness prevalent amongst all women, but it doesn’t work as a song. The narrative doesn’t flow, “that’s where the beginning of the end begun,” and just as she always does when cornered, Lana relies on quick tonal shifts that do fuck all to compensate for the poor instrumental structure.

By becoming Lana Del Rey, Lizzy Grant emulates an astounding company of past rock ‘n roll gimmicks—all of which were necessary to the artist’s success. David Bowie became Ziggy Stardust; Lou Reed became, well, a prettier Lou Reed; and the New York Dolls dressed up like a bunch of prostitutes. But unlike her forefathers (and sisters, in the Dolls’ case) she hasn’t made a great record, at least not yet. Born to Die is certainly no Transformer, and a true pop music “character” (and metamorphosis) simply isn't warranted by three good songs.

#2 Posted by LaszloKovacs (1148 posts) -

I don't always agree with you, duder, but I 100% agree with this.

#3 Posted by MB (12702 posts) -

I remember seeing her perform on SNL and thinking to myself that I've seen better by drunk girls singing karaoke.

Moderator Online
#4 Posted by Morrow (1829 posts) -

@Bruce:

Didn't knew she writes her own songs. I never read anything about her, except for one article that said something along the lines of pretending to be indie while having a major label behind. If those are her lyrics however she is at least not as constructed as the media tries to make her?

Video Games was a mesmerizing song, we'll see if she'll stay in the business.

#5 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -

Entertainment Weekly has pretty much the exact same view as you believe it or not.

#6 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@Morrow:

It's weird listening to it, because the three singles are miles above the rest of the record. Seems a bit fishy to me.

@Unknown_Pleasures:

You know what they say: Real recognize real. (You read Entertainment Weekly?)

#7 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -

@Bruce: I have a two year subscription that I got from a friend....there music section is pretty thin and most of their music reviews are only a paragraph long, but they actually had a decent write up for this album....I believe they gave the album a C+ saying that the three singles were all A- level songs but the rest of the songs were disappointing.

#8 Posted by GeekDown (1170 posts) -

I was anxiously anticipating this album, because I liked pretty much everything she put out before it, but it is a huge disappointment. I really wanted it to be better and have tried listening through it a few times, but it's just not good enough. Hopefully she can make something better on her next try, although I doubt it.

#9 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@Unknown_Pleasures:

I hate when people drop magazines on me; to this day, I receive Game Informer every month and have no idea why.

@GeekDown:

I love your avatar picture. "ANNIE!? ANNIE!?"

#10 Posted by Hot_Karl (3309 posts) -

Like five or six of the songs on the record are excellent, regardless of the questionable lyrical quality, which is why I like it. If half the songs are excellent, and half of them are mediocre to terrible, that's probably more praiseworthy than an album filled with good but not great songs by stronger, more established artists.

#11 Posted by CrimsonNoir (402 posts) -

I like Off To The Races, I found the skank voice fun :P

Online
#12 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@CrimsonNoir:

To each his own, man!

@VinceNotVance:

I'm curious, what are you six?

#13 Posted by Hot_Karl (3309 posts) -

@Bruce: For me, "Video Games", "Blue Jeans", "Born to Die", "Million Dollar Man", "Carmen" and "Summertime Sadness" are worth listening to.

#14 Posted by jediknight00719 (140 posts) -

Coming from a hip hop background, the production is usually what i hear first. i really like the productions of the album. Its by the same people that worked on Kanye's and Kid Cudi album. I would get an instrumental album if i could.

I just don't think her singing is on par with other singers. Its probably cause she sings in low pitch for a long duration of time (i'm thinking of born to die, song has superb production only to be ruined by her singing). There are just better singers out there IMO. I can respect her writing all her songs, there are other pop stars that get way too much credit for work they never do *cough*rihanna*cough*.

#15 Posted by cstrang (2381 posts) -

All of this is rubbish. I'm sad that this counts as music these days.

#16 Posted by dabe (299 posts) -

Good blog post. Videogames is pretty good, most of the other stuff I've heard isn't.

That aside, her plastically enhanced top lip can fuck right off.

#17 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@jediknight00719:

I don't see the production being on par with either of the artists you mentioned (CERTAINLY not Kanye; he would never sign off on drums that bad). As for the writing bit, eh, she "co-wrote" most of them.

#18 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@cstrang:

Rubbish you say!?

#19 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -

Dude where is your Pitchfork rating? I know Video Games got Best New Music for you but would you give this album like a 5.2?

#20 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@Unknown_Pleasures:

Lmao. I took scores off, remember?

#21 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -

Damn yeah that was a while ago....oh well that means for every subsequent review you post I'm going to have the guess what Pitchfork score you would have given it.

#22 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@Unknown_Pleasures:

Let's not call it a "Pitchfork" score. lol

I don't know what number I would have assigned to this, honestly. Or, since I'm studying to be a teacher/professor, what grade I would have given it.

#23 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@MB:

Hey MB, how's it going?

I can say safely that I have performed better while drunk in a bar than Lana did on SNL the other week.

#24 Posted by cstrang (2381 posts) -

@Bruce: Not your writing, but the music, aye. Rubbish.

#25 Posted by theoldhouse (439 posts) -

That album has way more than 3 good songs on it. But you know opinions.

But all things considered the music does not matter at all. She does not deserve the hate she has received. At all.

LEAVE LANA ALLLOOOONNNEEEEE :'(

#26 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@theoldhouse:

I'm not hating on her at all; I'm just saying the album isn't good.

#27 Posted by EuanDewar (5028 posts) -

I still don't like video Games or the uh, other one but I think I can find it in my heart to accept Born to Die as a good song.

Or at least I could if it weren't for that video HNGH PALACE WITH THE TATOOS AND THE TIGERS

#28 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@EuanDewar:

My tattoos are so much better than that guys.

#29 Posted by Milkman (17001 posts) -

I always thought the idea of a song just called "Video Games" was hilarious for some reason.

#30 Posted by HisDudeness (254 posts) -

What a disappointing album. Can't say I didn't see it coming though.

#31 Posted by Example1013 (4834 posts) -

The instrumentals aren't terrible, but they'd need much better vocals for the album as a whole to actually be worth listening to. I had a similar problem with Watch The Throne, to be honest.

#32 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@Example1013:

There's a really weird disorder to a lot of them, almost as if they were written with different vocal meters in mind.

#33 Posted by Example1013 (4834 posts) -

@Bruce: Yeah. I can't give a detailed analysis as I skipped around the videos, but it definitely sounded off. God knows I'm not fixated on vocals (I've listened to some pretty terrible rappers for the beats on their songs), but a lot of the videos you posted just didn't even sound good, forget any quality of lyrics.

#34 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@cstrang:

I love British people, because they have the most definitive words for describing this sort of stuff.

#35 Posted by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -

Bones?

#36 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@TheDudeOfGaming:

No idea what you mean by that, but sure?

#37 Posted by ConstantRyan (48 posts) -

While I agree that the album is largely poor; "National Anthem" is worth listening to just for the hilarious way she pronounces "ovation". It sounds like "ovaysheeuhuhuhhhn".

#38 Posted by Still_I_Cry (2494 posts) -

Eh..not for me. The music I mean.

#39 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@ConstantRyan:

Lol, I actually noticed that when I listened to it.

#40 Posted by cnlmullen (900 posts) -

I like Lana Del Rey more than I like most musicians, but not enough to call myself a fan.

She's doing something that's quite a bit different than most of the other stuff out there -- I appreciate that. I dig her whole aesthetic and image... I just don't react that strongly to any of her songs.

#41 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4847 posts) -

@Bruce: I have no idea who Lana Del Rey is, and I really don't care to be honest.

But thank you for reminding me of Lou Reed. Haven't listened to him in ages.

#42 Posted by Bruce (5264 posts) -

@Oldirtybearon:

Hey, as long as you read it and got something out of it, right?