The First Great Song of 2012 : Born To Die – Lana Del Rey
WELL. That didn’t take long, did it? And thank God for that. Following up last years critical smash Video Games (which CERTAIN esteemed music blogs ranked in their 22 Best Songs of the Year – HERE), it sounds like a natural progression without ever feeling like a mere retread. Which certainly makes us happy since, as intoxicatingly beautiful Video Games was, there was a certain fear that Del Rey’s Gangsta Sinatra schtick could wear thin or, worse, end up being the biggest case of pre-release dress ups an emerging artist has played on an unsuspecting public since Jessie J tricked an unsuspecting legion of music critics into thinking she was anything other than Natasha Bedingfield with a Very Modern Haircut this time last year.
Have sat with the song for a couple of days now, it’s not *quite* as good as Video Games but, in all honesty, that’s a bit like saying Jesus isn’t *quite* as good as God, isn’t it? If 2012 is indeed the year of the Mayan apocalypse, Born To Die sounds very much like the music that the horsemen will be riding out to. With a backing track less a song than something akin to wading out into a movie score, with lushly orchestrated strings against a sea of soft beats, it’s music to get lost to. The lyrics are strong too, helped by Del Rey’s hypnotically sexy, smokey vocals – moments like post-chorus’s “Come kiss me hard in the pouring rain, you like your girls insane” or the “I feel so alone on the Friday Nights – can you make it feel like home if I tell you you’re mine” are both jaw-dropping and also the kind of moments that just get under your skin. Far from just being a sexy kitten with an impressive set of pipes, Del Rey is shaping up to be one of the most interesting songwriters to straddle the pop and NME landscapes in a long, long time.
The video is about 2/3’s fantastic as well, unfolding like a long long late 60’s classic – the screen loves Del Rey the way it loves a Scarlett Johannson, she holds every frame like she was made for this. The scenes of her and hey boyfriend almost make you wish that this really were excerpts from a movie that you could watch for two hours. It’s a shame that the intercut scenes of her singing in a stark white church surrounded by tigers wasn’t so jarring and melodramatic. Besides looking coked off her gourd (although I’m sure that was the point), Del Rey’s delivery here is the seated equivalent of bad interpretive dance. The parts where she literally motions smoking a joint – for the chorus’s “lets go get high” part or, worse, literally makes a swirling crazy finger aside her head for the “insane” line, are so obvious and almost comical that you hope she gets bored in her spare time and comes up with a Artist’s Cut. Especially since Video Games proved that Lana has a back up career as an Editor and Director of note if this Alternative Pop Singer lark doesn’t quite pan out.
Anyway, here it is, the First Great Song of 2012 :-