‘Born’ is dead on arrival

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new-2starIn just a few short months Lana Del Rey has performed on “Saturday Night Live,” first person to do so with out an album release, had a music video that reached over 23 million views on YouTube and became a divisively controversial figure amongst music fans. This is all an impressive feat, considering her debut album, “Born to Die,” has just been released. Such fast fame sprouting almost out of nowhere is a rarity, so it is understandable that people quickly began wondering who exactly Lana Del Rey was.It turns out, Lana Del Rey is actually Lizzy Grant, and “Born to Die” is technically not her debut album at all. Del Rey quietly released her first album in January 2010 under her real name. Despite having super producer David Kahne behind it, the album received little attention. Lizzy Grant re-appeared in late 2011 under the name Lana Del Rey, seemingly trading in her wannabe-pop-star style for what she describes as a “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” persona. The grainy, home footage-like music video for her song “Video Games” went viral and Del Rey quickly became the new buzz of the music world.With heavy buzz, however, came heavy backlash. Del Rey has been criticized, sometimes unfairly, for her questionable rise to fame, millionaire entrepreneur father, abysmal live performances and wooden personality in interviews. But the truth is that none of those characteristics should factor into the quality of her music. “Video Games” is an undeniably great track that caught on due to its simple, yet captivatingly dreamy melody and story of detachment. Tracks like “Born to Die” and “Million Dollar Man” also successfully capture the sultry, retro B-movie starlet atmosphere Del Rey aims for.A conceptual persona can only carry an album so far though when substance is sacrificed. “Born to Die” ultimately goes awry when Del Rey attempts to be taken seriously with horrendously cringe-worthy lines like “Money is the anthem/God you’re handsome” and “life is sweet like cinnamon/like the fucking dream I’m living in.” Most of the lyrical content of the album does not delve much deeper than that.Del Rey’s crisp, soothing voice is sometimes the primary saving grace of many tracks. When she ditches that for talky, awkwardly high-pitched pop that echoes back to her Lizzy Grant days, disastrous songs like “Off to the Races” and “Diet Mountain Dew” are the results. By the time the album closes with the forgettable “This Is What Makes Us Girls,” it is apparent that Del Rey may have been pushed into the spotlight far too quickly. Ultimately, “Born to Die” is not consistent enough to be compelling, deep enough to be taken seriously or fun enough to be campy.

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