Lana Del Rey – Born To Die: The Album That Pop Killed

Ever since I heard Video Games by Lana Del Rey, I had been looking forward to the release of her album, Born To Die. The excruciatingly long hype-building delay between Video Games appearing (all over the place) and the album being released was almost as artificially inflated as those lips. (I don’t care though, she’s still fit.)

I earmarked the release day and enthusiastically turned up in HMV to pay full price for my copy; and if I’m honest, I’m a little disappointed. I didn’t like how it was mixed for a start. I think I wanted all the backing tracks to be big, and epic, and they’re simply not. They feel really compressed and lifeless, with little bass end. All the dynamics and a lot of the frequency spectrum are reserved for her vocal.

I should have expected that of course. When you’re marketing a popstar, you can’t hide their identity within an orchestral film soundtrack. The sound of the album isn’t right for the music, and the music doesn’t even make the most of talent (other than the obvious singles, every other track is deeply forgettable).

But, it’s still right, for the target market.

It is a shame, firstly because I thought Video Games was lyrically deep and quite heartfelt – most of the other songs are far more superficial lyrically – and also because I have heard plenty of artists in the past 5 years whose producers have gone all out to make albums that sound fresh, and contemporary, and still compete in the charts.

They could have made a dynamic and flowing full album for Lana Del Rey. I get the impression that the inbetween tracks have been wilfully neglected; a bit like the music industry equivalent of bulking up cocaine with rat poison.

And the worst thing is that I am the fool. Born To Die alerted to me that, as a musician and music lover, I am still nevertheless prone to expect a popular music album to actually be produced with the music in mind. This is not a truism in any case! And I scald myself, because that much I should have known.

So next time you despise a piece of art for its lack of genuine talent, or humanity, or whatever, maybe you’ll remember this important lesson that I was once taught and has helped me keep a relatively-tolerant and open mind to all sorts of music: As long as a song (/album/film/artwork/article) fulfils its original purpose, it must be considered to be good.