Feature

Lana Del Rey: Born to Die

By comparison with her self-directed video for the song “Video Games,” everything else in Del Rey' s debut album sounds clichéd.

★★

There was once reason to hope that Lana Del Rey’s debut album would be more than “a collection of torch songs with no fire,” said Lindsay Zoladz in Pitchfork.com. Given the backlash that’s buffeted the New York–based singer since her self-directed video for the song “Video Games” went viral, “it can be easy to forget” that the song itself “struck a nerve.” By comparison, everything else here sounds clichéd, even “out of touch.” Expectations aside, Born to Die is actually “a medium-good pop record,” said Nitsuh Abebe in New York. Loaded with “grandiose strings and a great deal of cooing,” the songs evoke “trip-hop tunes from a ’90s movie soundtrack.” Really, it’s only Del Rey’s persona that earns derision. Her half-baked lyrics about longing for bad boys advance a “regressive version of femininity,” and the squeaky rap singing she occasionally attempts is grating. Still, there’s “something touchingly, delightfully campy” about this singer’s earnestness. She’s “most interesting when she’s not quite succeeding.”

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