Lana Del Rey’s debut redeems “SNL” disaster

Poor Lana Del Rey. The media attention for the crooner’s latest album, “Born to Die,” was strong but mostly negative. After her fiasco performance on “Saturday Night Live” on Jan. 14, critics and viewers alike dismissed her. But “Born to Die” was the top downloaded album on iTunes when it was released Tuesday, and Del Rey might have another shot at success.

Del Rey (which is a stage name for Elizabeth Grant) has been steadily making her way onto the music scene since 2010, when she released “Lana Del Ray A.K.A. Lizzy Grant,” which was withdrawn from the market. The fact that her father, New York millionaire Robert Grant, helps finance her music career has been met with skepticism. Her critics see another rich girl trying to make a music career with daddy’s money.

The album is simple enough – Del Rey sings about love, falling for the bad boy, crazy drunken nights and her fame, of course. She alternates between a throaty croon and a high, whispery whine. Her voice is undeniably beautiful, yet it instills in the listener a sense of eeriness and, at times, dread.

Del Rey sings dark loves songs, and she sings them a lot. There are a few standouts on the album, among them the title track, “Born to Die,” but by halfway through, the album is only repeating Del Rey’s same lyrical message.

Still, there are some solid tracks. In particular, the haunting combination of piano, strings and pure emotion of Del Rey’s voice make “Video Games” a ballad not easily forgotten. The musical themes that run through this and all of the album evoke both jazz and hip hop, a horror film and a quirky kids song.

In Del Rey’s defense, once you have listened to “Born to Die” in its entirety, the “SNL” performance does not seem that bad. Del Rey certainly has an interesting voice, if not an engaging stage presence, but it is awkward to transition from the comedy skits of a normal “SNL” episode to Del Rey’s somber performance.

iTunes’ description of “Born To Die” reads that the “first six songs alone are enough to warrant a spot in modern music collections alongside Adele, Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu.” Let’s not be too hasty, iTunes, “Born to Die” certainly shows some promise, but let’s see if Lana Del Rey can endure.

Erin Bell can be reached at erin.bell@student.

Author: Staff Writer

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