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distinctive in voice, lyrics, long brown hair and style
on 19 February 2013
Lana Del Ray has a distinctive voice, distinctive lyrics which she co-writes, a distinctive appearance with her (at time of this album) long brown hair, and a distinctive style of music. The title track would be almost a different song performed by anyone else.
The lyrics of pop songs, even good ones, often look almost inane when written out word for word. Lana Del R's, exceptionally, stand up well even just to read in cold print (there is a booklet of lyrics with the CD). In performance the songs gain from Lana's different singing voices (the main one lower with more resonance; another, to which she switches for short passages, higher, with less power but often more playful). Many songs on this album are slightly longer than the average pop song, allowing time to develop ideas and repeat the most telling verbal and musical phrases.
Commonly, but not invariably, either words or music include a hint of sadness, often around the idea that women know that love does not always make them happy, but they love anyway. The final track concludes 'You and me are the lucky ones' but although the narrator thinks she has found lasting happiness, we are left suspecting that while this could be true, and we hope it is, the singer's voice contains hints of vulnerability rather than triumph.
The first and most moving and memorable song, 'Born to Die', sounds as though it could be about a couple who have made a suicide pact. I hope none of Lana Del R's fans will be so moved as to copy that idea.
The opening few seconds of each track, before Lana herself begins singing, sometimes have lush instrumental beginnings that I like. Others , have more 'hip hop' style beginnings that I personally don't enjoy and find out of character with the song that follows. However, some of you may like them and presumably Lana herself does (one of the songs contains the lines 'You were sorta punk rock/ I grew up on hip hop').
British pop singer/ song writer Ray Davies of the Kinks once said that while some words like (in his day) 'pinball' are 'rock' words, others like 'lavatory' are not 'rock' words, although he sometimes puts 'non-rock' words in his songs anyway to be different. Lana on the other hand sticks to the 'rock' words: 'blue jeans', 'video games', 'diet mountain dew', 'take your body downtown'.
Of course some songs are better than others on this album, but some are impossible to forget.
Note for further listening/ viewing: Lana is not confident as a live performer but she can be really good in videos, many of which to accompany the songs on this album are available on YouTube. Other songs she recorded that do not make all versions of this album that are really good and worth seeking out, again, including in many cases the videos, include 'Ride', 'Burning Desire', 'Gods and Monsters', 'Young and Beautiful' and her versions of 'Chelsea Hotel No 2', 'Summer Wine' and 'Blue Velvet'.
See also 'Queen of the Gas Station' from an earlier album she withdrew from sale.
Her three main later albums have a few good tracks but are sadly not as good.