Through the rich, indie-rock pace of Born to Die, Lana Del Rey’s icy, gauzy voice delicately twirls words into gripping lyrics between glorious samples of guitars and strings instruments. Her angelic voice makes the listener recline into tales of heartbreak, love, and sorrow, while the soulful atmosphere takes you on a journey into her dark heart and troubled past.
Born to Die is Lana Del Rey’s second album, released on January 27, 2012. Del Rey titled the album after the track “Born To Die” because she felt it captured the overall energy and feeling of the album. She told UK newspaper The Sun: “I consider the record an homage to true love lost and a tribute to living life on the wild side. When I was young I was overwhelmed by thoughts of my own mortality, but I also found fleeting moments of happiness in the arms of my lover and friends.
This track and the record are about these two worlds — death and love — coming together.” The album’s various tracks perfectly tie these two bittersweet themes together, with some songs depicting her as head-over-heels in love, as others follow her in a tired, broken state. Del Rey pours her heart out in her songs, and all the emotion kept inside her comes out in the form of her powerful, dynamic vocals. Her distinctive, heartfelt songs will always leave you starry-eyed and wanting to hear more.
“Born to Die” opens the album as a ballad of a morose love affair, with the message ofliving life to the fullest. Del Rey knows her relationship is doomed to end but goes through with it because she wants to be happy while she still can, despite the pain it brings her. The background music is dramatic and exciting, contrasting beautifully with Del Rey’s downcast, loving voice. “Blue Jeans” is also a ballad about a man who Del Rey holds very dear, who she vows to stay devoted to, despite him not being there with her anymore. It is more downtempo and full of low string instruments, adding a weary sound in the background of her pleading voice, which drips with sadness as she sings, only adding to the achingly beautiful tone. “Dark Paradise” is full of keyboards and drums ringing in the background of Del Rey’s heartwrenching voice as she grieves over a loved one who presumably passed away, but she refuses to move on. “And there’s no remedy for memory your face is/ Like a melody, it won’t lift my head/ Your soul is haunting me and telling me/ That everything is fine/ But I wish I was dead,” she sings in the bridge. This shows how she is mourning the loss of a loved one, and is being haunted to the point where she finds little appeal in being alive.
“Summertime Sadness” is perhaps one of the more well-known songs on this album. It has a sorrowful melody, with Del Rey’s voice coming across as hopeless and defeated. The song is meant to show that even in beautiful times like summer, sadness beyond measure still exists. This is shown when Del Rey sings a painful goodbye to someone she adored. “Carmen” is the only song, of those mentioned here, written in third person. It was written about the side of fame that isn’t desired, as Del Rey sings “Darling, darling, doesn’t have a problem/ Lying to herself, ’cause her liquor’s top shelf.” Del Rey demonstrates with this how many famous stars lie and make themselves seem happier than they really are. This is definitely a stand-out track amongst the album, with its intricate lyrics, and an exquisite mix of instruments and vocals. Finally, “National Anthem” has a more cheerful, refined melody, with a catchy hip-hop beat and heavy basslines. Del Rey sings,”Excessive buying, overdosin’, dyin’/ On our drugs and our love/ And our dreams and our rage/ Blurring the lines between real and the fake.” She has been corrupted to the point where she can no longer tell the difference between what’s healthy and what’s not. Despite the upbeat approach to the song, there is a deep meaning lurking beneath the surface, as in all of Del Rey’s songs on this album.
Selling over 8,000,000 copies worldwide, Born to Die has definitely earned its critically acclaimed fame. Del Rey has created a masterpiece with just a single album. With magnificent melodies laced with Del Rey’s lavish, smooth voice, this album is truly mesmerizing.