Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

To put all the waves upon waves of Lana Del Rey backlashes and frontlashes into proper perspective, let’s all try a thought experiment: Imagine what might’ve happened if Fiona Apple, the closest cultural antecedent for LDR’s first few singles, had emerged in the blanket-coverage internet age. Superficially, they’re ridiculously similar. Both of them land a little too closely to the standards of beauty of their day. (Not to make light of eating disorders, but excessive skinniness was the ’90s equivalent to lip injections.) Both are unsteady live presences; remember the noise surrounding Apple’s Roseland meltdown? And both made excellently languid fucked-out early singles that touched on ideas about obsession and sex-as-transaction. Unfortunately, with Born To Die, we’ll soon find out what might’ve happened if Apple had given us “Shadowboxer” and “Criminal,” and then the rest of Tidal had been fucking bullshit.

Because Born To Die is bad. It’s really bad. It’s bad in ways that “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” and even “Born To Die” in no way predicted. Plenty of people were suspicious of Lana Del Rey from start, but those early songs have a trashy, glamorous power that makes them stand out starkly in the context of the rest of the album. Other songs try that same combination of sex and regret, but they do it with all the subtlety of a cinderblock to the face. (On “National Anthem”: “Money is the anthem / God, you’re so handsome.” Yeek.) Most of the songs are just hideously under-written. The hooks are gone. The tempos rest on weird cheap electro beats that sound too cheap and too expensive all at once. Those tinny canned orchestral strings are on every song, and they don’t exactly find anything new to do. Neither does Del Rey’s persona; with bonus tracks, the songs come off like 15 different variations on a drunk chick at the bar trying to convince someone to come home with her. There are isolated moments that sound like they could’ve been something more; “Dark Paradise” and “Summertime Sadness” at least hint at the syrupy majesty of “Video Games.” But the whole thing is just a godawful mess.

Listening to Born To Die, it’s tempting to put forth theories on what happened. If LDR was a talentless major-label plant from the start, then “Video Games” probably wouldn’t have had the stylish panache that it did. And if her whole enterprise was hopelessly calculated, then she would’ve had more songs that actually worked. It’s worth noting that the production on all the newer songs is both more expensive and more hackneyed than what we hear on “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans”; it’s almost as if her Interscope overseers tried to recreate those songs over and over without actually figuring out what made those songs so compelling.

My own hypothesis, though, is that she needed more time to figure out her voice. It’s common knowledge, at this point, that Lana Del Rey is Lizzy Grant’s invented persona, an entirely new character that she created when her own music didn’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s sort of a Slim Shady/Eminem situation, then. But when “Video Games” hit as hard and as early as it did, she suddenly had to rush out an album, and she didn’t have the luxury of figuring out the different directions that this character could go. Maybe she’ll figure it out eventually. After Born To Die, though, I’m not hopeful. As Scott pointed out in an email, she should just go ahead and change her name again once this album bricks.

But hey! New Fiona Apple album this year! That’s something, right?

Born To Die is out 1/31 on Interscope.

Comments (224)
  1. I guess eveybody was expecting that… Maybe on the second album, if she ever releases another one…

  2. not that bad at all… don’t like the production, though

    • I don’t understand why artists still need to come out with albums. Clearly the format is not kind to everyone, so why can’t it just be a series of singles or “EPs”? I feel like we’re really beyond pigeonhole-ing musicians into putting out filler garbage as a music-centric culture.

      • The ones who have a cohesive enough, full-length musical statement in ‘em should continue to release albums. Otherwise, go the singles/EP route.

    • An incomplete compilation of the best things people here can say about Lana Del Rey:

      *”Not that bad at all…” –> ringing endorsement.

      *”i’ve only heard the first 5 songs and they’re really good. even if the rest suck, that’s still a better ratio than most albums.” –> excellent reasoning! why care about what’s good when you can settle.

      *”There’s one positive thing I can say about it: it’s not as bad as I expected” –> contain yourself, please

      *”There are a few good tracks on this album.” –> your enthusiasm is tangible, sir

      Let’s put this to rest. Some are enamored by her image and sound, some aren’t. She was hyped to within an inch of her life by marketing teams. And I think we can all agree: even if you love a song or two, the majority of the music is, at best, forgettable.

    • Agreed! This article is too harsh. I like the point that she needs to find her own voice.

  3. Why they thought this album needed 15 songs, I don’t know. Shrink this album down to nine or ten tracks and polish up the new tracks and you may salvage something compelling.

  4. I will probably give it a spin, but I am totally fine keeping my Lana Del Rey collection to just Video Games and Blue Jeans.

  5. i’ve only heard the first 5 songs and they’re really good. even if the rest suck, that’s still a better ratio than most albums.

  6. thank you stereogum, this is the lana del rey article ive been waiting for.

  7. Well, I guess it was a matter of time before blogs hyped an artist that couldn’t deliver in any way whatsoever (at least Cults and Tyler, The Creator’s records were decent and middlingly interesting).

  8. Wait, there isn’t a bright side for LDR?

  9. See, now I’m kind of looking forward to hearing it.

    • And now there are a bunch of commenters saying it’s good… the intrigue builds! I thought she sucked on SNL, but overall I still don’t have much of an opinion on her. I’ve gotta admit though this broad is pretty fascinating. I’m not even going to try to explain it and I feel like kind of an idiot, but I gotta check this shit out.

      • It just really depends on your music taste. If you hate pop music in every sense of the genre, you’ll hate this. It’s not in the same style as born to die or video games. I can hear every indie blog yelling “oh she went sooo mainstream” which is probably true. So it’s a bunch of pop songs, but she never claimed them not to be pop songs.

        And uhm… the first 6 songs of the album were basically already released through various channels, so acting so surprised now is just a very sad gimmick. It’s a pop album, but it’s a good pop album. Not a masterpiece, but not trash either. I give it a 7.5 or something.

        • I like pop music. I like Gucci Gucci. I like Teenage Dream. I like that Rihanna song with the crazy video. And I absolutely hate this record. They are not good pop songs. They are terrible pop songs. No hooks anywhere to be found. And that National Anthem song is completely unlistenable!!

      • I’m with you PLB. She’s not talented. She’s not going to go anywhere I don’t think. A lot is invested in her, and some of her recordings are nice. I think what’s fascinating is that for some reason, she polarizes opinion, despite her mediocrity. It’s telling of our modern culture that someone SO banal could polarize people.

        It’s like people arguing over vanilla ice cream (my second ice cream analogy of the day.) Some people are like “Vanilla is fucking shit.” and other people are like “Hey No, this Vanilla is the fucking greatest thing! It’s low fat AND delicious” and some people are like “Vanilla can go fuck itself, it’s not delicious and it tastes like shit” and then it turns out the vanilla is super high in saturated fat and the people are like “I hope Vanilla releases a second cone anyways that is low fat”

        Its vanilla. LDR is vanilla and there’s been so my hype to help propagate the Vanilla debate, but there’s like, so many fucking awesome complicated, original, dangerous, outrageous flavours out there and we’re still arguing over vanilla?!

        • So *much*

        • I think based the information we have on her, or at least had before this album leaked, there was a really wide range of how great or awful she could be which piqued a lot of people’s curiousity. However in the end I’m sure you will be right and she will turn out to be just mediocre.

          • I still don’t see how she had a high ceiling or low basement though.

            I’m a sports-stat junkie, so I read a lot into numbers about how low or high draft picks in certain sports can get. For example its interesting to me to think about how terrible a first round draft pick can be for a team, and whether a GM should take a safe bet on an above average player with a strong work ethic and good leadership qualities… or take a risk on a player who could be a locker-room cancer or is a massive injury threat, or has tons of talent but a lazy ethic.

            Lana Del Ray is sort of none of these things music wise. She’s not that interesting musically. We’re talking about pop music in the first place, and she’s clearly not TERRIBLE. Like…she’s not Amy Winehouse drunk lyric forgetting terrible. But she’s also not a virtuoso. She doesn’t dance while she sings. She doesn’t play an instrument.

            She’s not a risk because she’s not a virtuoso like Amy Winehouse. She doesn’t have a natural gift for anything. And she’s not a safe bet either, because she’s not even above average, pop-wise, considering she doesn’t dance well, or sing well, or do anything substantial. She’s a late round draft pick. She’s a middle reliever or a kicker or a backup goalie. The media has been hyping a goddamn kicker for months now, and is surprised that it turns out it was a kicker all along.

          • And Video Games, the song, is still to me, a pretty decent long Field Goal. I can still respect a nice kick. But definitely at the end of the day, I’m not going to spend all night talking optimistically about how a kicker is going to change the face of Football, or vice versa.

          • I’m digging the sports analogies. Isn’t the best comparison Tebow? When he got drafted his hype was completely unproportional to his actual level of talent because he was unorthodox and because of what he stood for off the field. So despite that fact that he can barely throw a spiral, people were dying to see what it looked like when he played in a game. Maybe the potential for greatness wasn’t really there, but the opinions on him were so polarizing he became a curiousity. I guess that is what I should have said, maybe there wasn’t an actual potential for greatness or shittyness, but there was a perceived potential which is really more important, at least for a pop star when schmucks like me are following the story.

          • Tebow is for sure a little more apt, but I don’t think it’s bang on yet, because he still happens to be a very good athlete, say what you will about his QB style and how appropriate it is for the NFL. It’s very possible Tebow can be molded into a top tier guy with good coaching.

            Honestly…the way I see it is that LDR isn’t the product of scouting because no scout would have bet on her because of the lack of talent, or charisma, or anything really, when it comes to her performing ability. I’d say it’d be like when NHL teams (sorry, I’m a hoser, hockey is my go-to) draft big hulking defensemen early, despite whether they have any actual talent. It’s like “Hey this seems like a good player because he’s tall.” Which is an idiotic strategy because no matter who you are, or how your team is doing, or what your needs are, or what sport it is, you always always always draft the best player. Not the tallest.

            I dunno though, I still like the kicker analogy though. I don’t know if anyone remembers, but there was once a guy who kicked 5 consecutive half-time field goals, eventually hitting one 50 or 60 yards, for a million dollars. I don’t remember if it was CFL or NFL, but a team actually invited him to camp.

            That guy is LDR, if he hired a publicist, and the media got wind of his kicks and invitation to camp, and starting calling him the next great big thing for football. Even though 1) He’s never played professional football 2) he’s only really made a few consecutive kicks, NONE of which were in real life gameday scenarios, and 3) He hasn’t even made the team yet.

          • The Tebow analogy stops working because after his first season he was so all over the place that he actually was really interesting to watch and we still don’t know if he is good or not. The kicker analogy is good, but no one would ever get as worked up over a kicker as much as they did for Lana even if Lana really only deserved the attention of a special teams player. IDK, I wanna come up with the perfect analogy now. I was thinking Yi Jianlian. He was a highly touted basketball prospect from China and before he got drafted the only video of him was him on a basketball court dribblining around and shooting over chairs. No one had really seen him play against actual players yet there was a ton of hype surrounding him and he ended up being a pretty high draft pick based on his potential. He never really panned out and would probably be considered a bust although I think he is still playing. People perceived that he had potential for greatness but I’m not sure that he actually did and it turned out that he kinda sucked.

            I think that’s the best I can do, if that doesn’t work we can stick with the kicker.

          • Jianlian! Posting up to a chair! I like it.

          • I wasn’t sure at first, but the more I thought about it it’s pretty perfect. He looked the part but when it came down to it he couldn’t really play. But he is still in the NBA so he can’t be THAT bad.

        • this insight is better than Born to Die

          • Plb,

            This albums will definitely invoke a “meh,” or “bleh,” or “heh” or possibly a “huh”? There’s one positive thing I can say about it: it’s not as bad as I expected, and I don’t think it’s as bad as the review given to it. It doesn’t invoke a cringe ala hearing Asher Roth or Skrillex, but just a nice facepalm:

            By the way, Tebow is a horrible quarterback, great athlete. I just wonder if any of the hype would exist if he were Muslim (I think we know the answer to that question). I fully expect him to be the Broncos running back / slot receiver ala Ray Rice, except not as good.

          • Maybe this is a little late, but I finally listened to “Born to Die” this morning. I tried to listen with an open mind, but I’ve already read so many opinions about it I can’t say for sure I did as good a job as I would have liked to. Overall I did find myself agreeing with the people who thought BTD wasn’t quite as bad as the above review, however there is enough shit in this album that if Stereogum didn’t latch onto the worst moments and write a scathing review it would have been a mistake. I know I didn’t want to read a review about how this album was just so-so and I don’t think anyone else did either.

            Just for fun, here is my breakdown of the album:

            The Good- There are a few good tracks on this album. Video Games is solid. I liked Off to the Races, that track made me think that maybe Lana has more personality than I gave her credit for. Diet Mountain Dew is pretty good too, if only because I think it is a little interesting that she chose Diet Mountain Dew as an analogy for someone who isn’t good for her but she wants so bad. Did she used to be one of those people who drinks like five 16 oz Mountain Dews a day?

            The Meh- I suppose most of the album fits into this category. Blue Jeans, Carmen, Summertime Sadness, and Lucky ones among others are all pretty meh along with the production in general. There are a lot of very generic hip hop beats on this album. Someone in the comments suggested a LDR/Weeknd collaboration and I think that might be a good idea for a mashup. Some more interesting production could have made this album a lot better.

            The Ugly- Most of the cringe worthy moments on this album are courtesy of the lyrics. National Anthem has to be the worst track. I haven’t heard such on the nose lyrics since that Neil Young album about the Iraq war. And how cheesy are those fireworks at the beginning of the song? I thought the title track was pretty bad as well. It tries to make some grand point that I feel like a million people have made. And it’s filled with clichés. I get that we are all supposed to be surprised when we hear this pretty blond telling us we were Born to Die, but it didn’t really do anything for me. This is What Makes Us Girls isn’t so bad, but when Lana whispers, “Pabst Blue Ribbon on Ice” I died laughing and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intended reaction. Finally, note to record company: if you don’t want people to think that you are forcing an overly sexual image on an innocent looking girl you probably shouldn’t include a track called Lolita on her record.

            I know I’m babbling, but I want to leave you with an anecdote about a dream I had about LDR last night(no fucking joke). Some website needed someone to photograph LDR and I e-mailed them saying I wanted to do it and they said ok even though I don’t know anything about photography. When they said yes I was kind of freaking out b/c I was a fraud but I was still going to go through with it. I never actually photographed her in my dream but we did exchange some e-mails, and at one point she told me I should be ashamed for working for a large corporation. So what’s the point? I think it is that I’m way too obsessed with someone whom I am currently involved in a 15 plus post exchange about how mediocre she is. I think it’s time for me to move on.

            Thanks for letting me get this out of my system guys. To anyone who could care less about my opinion or who read this and wants three minutes of their life back, I apologize.

        • LDR’s next ideal career steps: 1. no tour, 2. taking a long time out and reconsidering one’s image, especially when performing live, 4. lip reduction surgery, 5. more effort on production of the 2nd album, 6. firing a dozen of advisors who butt in too much, 7. becoming an ironic and more relaxed person and renaming oneself in Vanillana del Rey.

  10. I actually kind of like the record. The article is quite hypocritical as well, sorry. The other songs are different than blue jeans/videogames, but if they had been in the same style, you would’ve just said “oh it’s always the same thing”. She went completely pop but at least it’s refreshing pop. Point is, she never claimed she was indie… I understand if it’s not your style of music, but puhlease, saying it’s “a complete mess” is way too harsh.

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  12. fiona and lana are not comparable, shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence. i’m half way thru “born to die” and it’s making me wish i was dead. should be re-titled “bored to death”

  13. You know, this a extremely refreshing pop record, but nobody in the indie/alternative music blogosphere saw Lana as a popstar or reaching larger audiences with that Video Games – EP, right? So now, because now you aware of that, it’s time to diss her trying to look cool again. What a hypocritical article indeed!

  14. Perhaps it’s Schadenfreude, but I think it’s odd that we are even having a conversation about her. Rather then constantly talk about her album, it should probably just be ignored. It’s her first album. Plenty of people put out bad first albums, and they are never heard from. But they are rarely talked about in the first place. If someone puts out a great album, and becomes popular, and then they put out a bad album, that is something that merits discussion. “How could someone who put out such an awesome album, now put out such crap?”
    In this case, it probably should be the record label we are criticizing, and not Lana Del Rey. They obviously put a lot of money and marketing muscle behind an unproven product. I see big ads for her album as I walk down 6th avenue,and the amount of hype behind her is something she couldn’t possibly live up to.
    It would be like a Major League Baseball team picking some kid out of little league, and throwing him in the starting lineup. It’s not his fault he struck out. The team should’ve never put him out there in the first place.

    • I think a better analogy would be if I Major League Baseball team drafted some stud, super hyped guy with the first pick and let him start opening day instead of working his way up through the minors. Everyone would be curious to see how he looked in his first at bat because he was so hyped and because it could go either way. If he hit a home run(video games) everyone would over react and say he is the next Babe Ruth. If he struck out(SNL, maybe some of the tracks on this album) everyone would over react and say he is a bum and sucks.

      • Lana Del Rey compares to a player like Dontrelle Willis. Here’s a black pitcher (retro) with a throwback windup (retro) that got baseball fans interested. With his fitted slanted, and “keep it gangsta” at press conferences, he got people talking. Sure, he started with some talent, but eventually, once the sideshows were explored and overplayed, his true value was exposed — a minor league quality spot starter in the big leagues.

        • Dontrelle has 72 career wins! LDR hasn’t even released an album. Nope, I divert your attention to the two near-perfect sports analogies above: Jianlian or anonymous Halftime kicker. Only to be ousted by a more perfect comparison, TBD

          • Saying Dontrelle has 72 wins is like defending Oliver Perez for having a 200+ strikeout season. Both stats doesn’t sum up the severe drop in relevance both have to the sport. I’m comparing the ratio of the level of hype to sustained real value. The Jianlian point is good, but he was a total unknown. You don’t measure into the fact LDR has fans. Defenders! There are those that find her memorizing. Which might be true, just for mostly everything but music. I think my Dontrelle Willis comparison will work if she follows his career trajectory. He’s gone from Rookie of the Year to lefty specialist in the bullpen. Del Rey will go from SNL to her songs appearing in future episodes of Bravo’s Real Housewives.

          • Well, i still would defend those points though…for me, those performances are comparable to putting out one very good season. Video Games is one good song, and fans are easily swayed because people are generally very dumb. I would say one streak, or one No-Hitter, or even a full good-playoffs-performance would be a solid baseball comparison to having one or two decent songs. But a whole season? You gotta have some skill to go out there all year and pitch well.

            I will not deny that she will license her songs the first chance she gets, if not already, and probably to pretty much anything. Real Houswives…Adult Diaper ads…yeah, she will license the shit out of it.

          • We like sportz and we don’t care who knows

    • You’re joking if you think her music was covered for any other reason than that the songs and the visuals that accompanied them were amazing and visceral.
      blue jeans is bulletproof. It’s fucking pure tittiness. the epitome of tittiness.
      sure, “plenty of people put out bad first albums” but it’s rare for an artist to release such solid singles straight out da gate. I would like to believe that this is what got her the coverage she did.
      But, then again, I also convinced myself that “the Hills” was real. I wanted it to be real so bad. Who the fuck did Spencer think he was?

      Miss u Lauren.

      • You’re nuts man. I can think of two songs right off the top of my head by chicks that are way better than Blue jeans and Video Games. La Sera’s- Please Be My Third Eye and Frankie Rose’s- Know Me. And thats just this month.. And those chicks Don’t get anywhere near the press LDR does. It has very little to do with the songs… and a whole lot to do with a bunch of provocative press shots, a serious/sad sounding voice/ and a somewhat interesting video.

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  15. I will wait until Brian Williams comes out with his own review of this album.

    • This was actually Brian Williams’ review.

      But really, I’m liking this album so far. I think this article was a little unnecessarily harsh. This is actually the first negative opinion i’ve seen on it since it leaked yesterday hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  16. I like the first two songs. But I can’t help but feel like I’m being marketed to as part of the whole manic pixie dream girl type fad when I watch the videos. Maybe she got too tied up in the “business” part of it and will later perfect her music on later albums.

    • you can’t escape the system man. we are all in the system

  17. Obviously written for blog traffic.

  18. you guys didn’t appreciate the pbr on ice lyric? i thought we were dealing with joni mitchell here. :\

  19. I don’t get this review (and admittedly have missed all the front/back-lashings and SNL). I’m 5 tracks in and this record is awesome so far. ‘Off to the Races’ is especially great.

    I don’t feel marketed to and have no idea who this record is aimed at. But what’s coming out of my speakers right now is highly enjoyable.

    • ho ho are you in for a treat

      • Ok, I’ve listened to it twice now. This album is great. I don’t think it’s going to change the world or anything, but I find it entirely entertaining. I’ve read up on her a little bit and it seems the biggest problem is that her daddy has money and now she’s got a higher profile than people expect from an artist at this stage. I don’t recall this being a deal-breaker when it was The Strokes back in 2001. Rich people have different resources for making records. Big deal. I can’t imagine letting that get in the way of hearing and enjoying music.

        • The fact that the Strokes came from privileged backgrounds was always an inescapable part of their story, and Julian Casablancas was still addressing the issue around the time his solo album came out. I think the difference between them and Lana Del Rey is that some people seem to feel that Lana Del Rey smacks of prepackaged culture and marketing, while the Strokes, privileged as they were, did pay their dues live and honed their craft. “Is This It” is universally critically acclaimed and helped rekindle interest in garage rock (remember the “The” band explosion early last decade?). “Born to Die” just isn’t going to have the same amount of impact; you said it yourself, it’s nothing new, but you personally find it entertaining. I think people are finding it easier to dismiss as a result.

          That’s not to say the Strokes or the White Stripes or whoever invented garage rock, but at the time there was a perceived shortage of “real rock” available on the radio. The Strokes, the Stripes, et al tapped into something at the right time and it caught on. I don’t think it’s the same for Lana Del Rey; there are always going to be mindless pop available, and she doesn’t seem to have an all-important gimmick going for her beyond her origin story, which seems to be working against her. She’s pretty, but Katy Perry seems to be giving people more of what they want (literally), and maybe she’s a bit quirky, but again, Lady Gaga has her beat. Perhaps there’s nothing else to latch onto except the tunes, which (and I haven’t heard anything except “Born to Die” and I don’t really remember it, so I’m not judging) apparently aren’t all too noteworthy.

          In any case, I’d get used to this sort of hype from now on. It’s not just cable news anymore; we’re all on a 24 hour cycle of news and pop culture, constantly looking for the next big thing. Things come and go faster than ever before. In that sense, she couldn’t have picked (or have had picked for her, as may be the case) a better album title than “Born to Die.”

          • The Sonics invented Garage Rock in the sixties…just a side note

          • It seems that folks are demanding an authenticity from LDR that they don’t from countless other pop chicks and rappers. Stereogum is trying to play coy and say it’s because the record is “really, really bad,” but c’mon, I’m listening to it and the album tracks are not remarkably removed from the singles. There are hooks all over the place.

            If this artist doesn’t belong in the same category as some other, then sites like this should probably stop covering her. They black out countless other terrible artists, so let this be that. She’s either good and deserves coverage, or she’s not and doesn’t. That we get to read her name on this site with frequency says that Stereogum is just having fun with her.

  20. I guess I downloaded and listened to it last night because I found a page full of half made sense inspired by a insomniatic haze about this album. I guess my intention was to write a review with these initial thoughts but since I can’t really make sense of it I’ll just transcribe it, sorta, verbatim.

    I purposely avoided her during the stretch of blog coverage. Skipping listening to her music or watching any videos but reading all the vitriolic comments concerning her persona. Maybe that was a worse way than actually having listened to her songs because I could have come away from all the comments thinking I was ready to listen to the worst thing ever but instead I was listening to it with the intent to prove internet commenters wrong (because internet commenters are evil and the worst). I actually enjoyed the first four songs, which are the same as the internet ep (I think) but my enjoyment didn’t last as the 5th song came in and it was the same and then the one after that was the same and the one after that. Most, no, all of the songs on here follow the same pattern of songwriting.

    This is where I lose my train of thought.

    …But ultimately people will like this album because its safe, the album produces 15 pop songs that follow a formula and caters to vintage junkies. (What does any of this mean?)

    …To me the beats sound like slowed down versions of Kanye West’s runaway, with their 16 beat break, strings and echoed chopped vocal samples. Like a label A&R said “You know what kids like now, Hip Hop, Dance Pop, and Vintage Sensibilities.” and then tried to market her to the most cynical music listeners but the blogs are at fault as much as… Videogames is still a great song.


    …(Scribbled) Pet Shop Boys & The Soft Bulletin

    … I still don’t enjoy her voice most of the time, reminding me of coffee-housewave singer/songwriters which, to me, is the worst music, it often seems like an affectation, an act to sound austere (I’m not sure I know what words I write mean?) but I think I’m also incredibly biased in this because I’ve tried to date too many singer/songwriters and have been spurned (in my defense most of them are incredibly cute.)

    Ultimately its a collection of safe, similar pop songs that some people (whoever that is) will enjoy.

    Sloth Rating: 2 out of 5 4.0 Pitchfork scores
    Review Score: “Why the hell would you write this you crazy idiotic dude.” “This review is as awful and scattershot as Lana Del Rey.”

    Finally just go listen to Grimes’ Visions it instill in me a feeling of childlike joy & wonder in life and of exploring the unknown that I haven’t felt since Animal Collective (lol. I was really out of it.)

    • For what its worth, most of the music that has “instilled a feeling of childlike joy and wonder” in me has tended to age poorly (think Justice circa 2007.)

      For me, some instances of that feeling are actually something that sounds like your childhood (I’m thinking Music Has The Right To Children) but I’m starting to think that the other times its a serotonin release from your brain discovering something totally new that it likes.

      Hence, something new will eventually stop feeling new and that’s why I guess I’ve found some of that music to age poorly.

  21. Honenstly i listened to this through twice, my initial reaction was damn it is one song, the beats/ hip hop arrangements are amateur and over the top to the point it drowns out her voice. I do really like born to Die a whole lot and to my mind the only song which seems to have a melody and a chorus and her voice hasnt been obscured by the beats is Million Dollar Man, but then that is the most Fiona Appley type song.

  22. She doesn’t live up to her potential but this is far from anywhere near as bad as this evaluation says.

    It’s overproduced and too long but there are at least 3 or 4 more solid Lana tracks here. Not a disaster by any definition.

    When Robyn releases an album with 4 good songs and bunch of same-y pop songs everybody skips we consider it ‘end of the year list’ great. When the next great collagen hope releases an album with with 1:3 good song ratio, it’s a disaster.


  23. [img][/img]

    This was a better idea.

  24. Fiona Apple wrote Never is a Promise two years before Tidal was even released. I can accept the comparisons, as you point out, on a superficial level. Yes, Fiona Apple had issues she needed to work out, a la Lauryn Hill. But both took dysfunction to propel their music to peerless levels. Lana Del Rey is the musical version of the Truman Show, a media creation quickly unraveling.

  25. Can I just ask how this evaluation is in any way premature? The tag “Lana Del Ray” brings up 4 pages of Sterogum posts, dating back to August of last year. Add all of those posts to all of the other Lana Del Ray coverage that’s been splattered all over the Internets for what seems like an interminable amount of time, and I’d say that this evaluation of LDR is far from premature. Rather, it’s about time that we just warp it up and go smoke a cigarette or take a shower or something.

    • I meant “wrap.” Though, depending on what you’re into, I suppose “warp” could work, too.

    • Haha you got angry over the title of the column. Premature Evaluation is a recurring column on this site in which they review early leaked albums and it’s called what it’s called because it’s a funny physiological pun. No need to get angry. I get your point but there is no double meaning, hell or single meaning, in the title of the column.

      Much Love,

      Sloth (Totally not on Stereogum’s Payroll)

  26. This review feels as rushed as this album ;) ;) ;)
    You can’t knock the first 5 tracks and Summertime sadness. The rest reminded me of 00′s Britney, which, wasn’t expected or enjoyable. This thing was pumped out, it’s unfortunate and it’s inconsistent but “fucking bullshit” is a little ridiculous. I get that you’re disappointed, I am too but I think “fucking ridiculous” is a bit hyperbolic. She does rap or anything for fucks sake.

    I’m just sad all over.
    Even my D.


  27. IMAGINE A WEEKND LANA DUET!!!!!! I would listen to that, maybe even polish my china to it.


  28. HEY TOM, “Criminal” was written by Fiona Apple about the experience of being raped at age 12, which I’m assuming you didn’t know when you described it the way you did. But also! Eating disorders are not the same as lip injections! No one has ever died from a lip injection! Please be more careful when writing about women’s lives!

    • I have a rule never to argue with fellow fans. But . . .Fiona Apple being raped is the first lesson in Fiona Apple 101. No one knows the name Fiona Apple without knowing she was raped. Not making light of it. But let’s give TOM! more credit.

    • This is kind of not a necessary argument to be started and thus should not be really an argument, but while many of the lyrics on Tidal were influenced by her traumatic rape, “Criminal” is one of the songs that is NOT about her rape and is actually about feeling guilty about taking advantage of your sexual attractiveness. So.

    • how about a butt injection:


      There’s areal story here: in terms of Fiona // LDR, there’s an oozing, self-depreciating decadence to one and there’s an oozing ode to COD in the other. In term’s of which is better or what is about what, it’s up to the reader to interpret. I love “Criminal” in a vacuum, and the only rape I want to talk about is the one where Eli rapes the Pats defense in two weeks.

  29. I thought the album was pretty decent but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really excited that you guys are tearing Born to Die limb from limb.

  30. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  31. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  32. She just needs to hit SNL. Then the masses will witness her true power.


  33. I’ll probably check it out next year, when I can get one of the millions of copies it sold but people got bored of for a penny on amazon.

  34. When I heard “Radio” the first thing I thought was, “I wonder whatever happened to Custom?”

    R.I.P. (Never forget, pls.)

  35. the album is terrible, but i feel horrible for her… if you watch the early videos of her, she’s always been just as awkward.. add collagen injections and plastic surgery, a new sheen hairstyle instead of the frizzy one she had to cover up her large ears, and you have a girl who’s even more self conscious… she’s said she relates with kurt cobain and this is honestly the beginning of someone who might very well take her own life in two years… i’m sure none of you could withstand this type of pressure and she probably didn’t think it would feel like this..

    it’s really sad and already it’s starting to look pretty tragic..

  36. I don’t have time to listen to this chick. There is a new of Montreal album out people. of Montreal, as in Kevin Barnes.

  37. the album will blow up,not because its good, but because it has 3 catchy songs and the rest will be polished up and she’ll be on american idol and stuff like that…she’ll be pimped around

  38. Haters gonna hate. Wow. This premature evaluation is so off considering how this blog jizzed over her leaked songs more than any other music blog out there. Who wrote this article? Stereogum already LOVED 6 of these songs.

    Born to Die, Off to the Races, Blue Jeans, Video Games, National Anthem (h8trs h8.), Radio, Summertime Sadness, Without You, and Lolita are all winners in my opinion. This is a pop album. She has mass appeal; Interscope wouldn’t be trying to polish the hell out of her if they didn’t believe that.

    I’ve been listening to it all day. HEY LOLITA HEY will be played 100 times before I head out dancing this weekend.

  39. LDR as performed by this guy ( > LDR performed by brian williams > LDR performed by daniel radcliffe > LDR performed by LDR cover band “Lana Del Rey Beach” > LDR

  40. I think a lot this hype-boom-let down cycle with LDR and lot of other artists is due to a clash between a singles-driven pop world and an album driven indie-world that are constantly becoming more intertwined. If people who like original, challenging music are also going to like pop stars and if bands who make solid critically-acclaimed albums are also going to have singles that appear on the radio, we need recalibrate some shit. I think the expectations for a great LP from a pop artist with a few good singles (both to make one and for it to be any good) needs to be lower or , here’s a thought, don’t make an album’s worth of material if you only have a few good songs. Who says you need LPs anyways. I think a lot of artists would be better off just releasing singles and having their LPs be ignored like so many Top 40 artists. If LDR had done this, many of the people on this blog would still be happily listening to Video Games and not switching off this album after 5 tracks. In the meantime, she could be polishing up the best material on said album for an EP release later this year just as the first wave of hype wears off and everyone has forgotten about her SNL performance.

  41. I thought the album Born to Die was amazing! Then I listened to it… Not so much anymore

  42. Yeah, Video Games and then the rest seem to belong to two different albums.

  43. Songs discussed by stereogum before the record:

    China Doll, Without You, National Anthem, Blue Jeans, Video Games, Born to Die, This is What Makes us Girls.

    That is… 7 songs of the 15 songs album already discussed by you guys, or atleast worthy enough to blog about. 6 out of the 12 of the normal edition…

    You guys (well, staff) basically liked 50% of the songs. And, even though you gave 50% of the songs positive-ish reviews, now you write this: Because Born To Die is bad. It’s really bad. It’s bad in ways that “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” and even “Born To Die” in no way predicted”.

    Hah, consistency much?

    To me it seems more likely that interscope and LDR totally used you for creating a hype, and you totally fell for it. Now you realise this, your reaction is “well you suck anyway!!!”. Kind of like a sore break-up after being cheated on.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • I just find the whole “oh it’s pop, we MUST hate it” act kind of hypocritical. If you’re going to rush through an album for the review at least try giving it a fair chance. I don’t know, I just kind of hate hypocrisy. Completely slaying an album in the sense of “worst shit ever” seems pretty weird to me if you previously loved 3-4 tracks featured on that album.

        I think the album has about 5-6 good songs. Rest of it is pretty “meh” to me. I neither hate them nor love them. But usually, when I come across an album like that I say “hm, pretty decent album”, I wouldn’t say “OMG BURN THE WITCH” like stereogum’s doing.

        • Yeah i don’t know man. It seemed like Stereogum jumped off the LDR train quite a while ago… I saw this review coming a mile away. just because they posted her songs doesn;t mean they liked them. i personally think all of the songs kind of suck including blue jeans and video games, so I love the review. And I don’t think anyone is saying its pop so we must hate it. I think their saying it sucks so we hate it. This website was all about Adele all last year. They love Kanye too. I dont think they are anti pop music. I think they are anti shitty music. And to my ears, this album was pretty shitty… One of the worst albums Ive heard in a while, much worse then that Black Kids album that everyone seemed to hate so much a few years ago.

          • Well, even if they just posted their songs, they contributed to the hype just as well.

            I mean the first two singles were good. Not *jizz* good, but likeable. Posting it there, I get it. Then posting the next two songs afterwards even when you dislike them is considered quite normal.

            But seriously…. then 3 more songs? Would’ve been a bit more honest if they would’ve just said “meh” after like 2 songs of her. I just don’t get the “listen to this,, now this… and this, this, this, and this.”. and then saying 4 months later “actually, that shit was all terrible”.

            I can totally understand you don’t like it since it’s very … very poppy. Not in “Gucci Gucci” poppy (seriously how can you like that :P ) , but more “every 14 year old girl will relate to this and listen to it when their bf has dumped” kind of poppy.

            I consider myself to be a not narrow-minded guy. So, I compare this against its genre competitors. Versus the shit that normally fills a pop album (britney, lady gaga, christina aguilera, katy perry, kesha or whatever her name is, rihanna, *insert name here*), I think it’s decent good-ish.

            I’d never buy it myself. But unlike other pop albums, it wouldn’t make me want to grab a shotgun and shoot the radio whenever it comes on.

            By the way, BBC just gave it a pretty great review. So did Slant magazine. I just think indie bloggers are quite incredibly disappointed with the way it turned out.

            This is quite “meh”, but to me it is far from the “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS” that Lulu was/is. Or whatever new Kings of Leon album they come up with nowadays.


  45. I stopped reading at “Born To Die is bad.” because it blatantly is not. Maybe you can not like it in its wholeness, but only a strong hater can say the album is bad. Feel sorry for you.

  46. I started reading this, then I remembered how awesome Cloud Nothings’ album was and listened to that instead.

  47. Seriously? What’s wrong with you pussies? There is an overabundance of good music out there… Why on earth would ANYONE settle for Lana Del Ray?…

    • Because the term “good” is subjective. What’s good to you may not be good to… ah fuck it. Why do I even bother with this elementary bullshit? Ask the next person you meet on the street. Maybe s/he will have more patience with these juvenile questions.

  48. “a drunk chick at the bar trying to convince someone to come home with her”

    I’ve never been in a bar where is even a pssoibility. Maybe a lesbian bar?

    • Um, I don’t know what the protocol is in lesbian bars but “a drunk chick at the bar trying to convince someone to come home with her” at a so-called regular bar is pretty common. The catch? 90% of the time it’s not someone who you want to leave with.

  49. Food for thought: Stereogum has 32 posts with Lana Del Rey in the title, 66 posts where she in mentioned. Looks like Stereogum just destroyed the monster they created.

    • I think the media as a whole is responsible for this catastrophe. The worst Stereogum is guilty of is feeding the beast for page hits, and even then, I feel like they were more objective in their coverage. Oh well. Let’s let this monstrosity and move on to better things.

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