Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: Paradise by Lana Del Rey

Explicit content indeed.
The summer of 2011 was quite eventful. With Britney Spears on tour, it was damn near impossible to focus on anything else. But it was during those hot months that the artist formerly known as Lizzie Grant starting making waves in the music scene. Lana Del Rey's debut single, "Video Games", put her on the map and she had many people buzzing that she was the savior of pop music; however, she's since experience the ugly side of fame. After two atrocious appearances on Saturday Night Live, critics brutally attacked her debut album Born to Die and wrote her off as quickly as they had originally embraced her.

But that shit ain't gonna keep Lana down. This week, she released her latest work, Paradise. Overall, the album lacks the diversity that made Born to Die so great (where's the quasi-rapping, Lana?), but proves that her debut album was more than just a fluke; she may be a little annoying, and incredibly haunting, but she is talented!

Paradise opens with former Jam of the Week "Ride". As I stated in that post, the song is quintessential Lana, as she sings about wandering through life, looking for love to give her a purpose. "Ride" sets up the album perfectly. "I've been trying too hard with one pretty song," she sings, most likely referencing the single that made her famous. I'm loving the autobiographical content, Lana.

"American", the second track, is one of Lana's prettiest songs. To be honest, I'm not sure what this song accomplishes other than expressing Lana's fondness for Americana, but something meaningful must exist within the lyric "Be young, be dope, be proud/Like an American," a line which is followed by excessive cooing. While I don't know what this song means, I know how it makes me feel, and it makes me feel like I should be rolling around in an American flag while high off shrooms.

"My pussy tastes like Pepsi-Cola," Lana sings at the top of "Cola", the funniest song on the album. The track tells the story of a teenage girl seducing an older married man, which a theme I can really support because it's hilarious. What else is comical? When she says, "Drugs suck it up/Like vanilla Icees/Don't treat me rough/Treat me really nicies." Lana's songs are no strangers to baby-talk, but this really takes the cake for its ridiculousness. After listening to this song, I ask you two questions: (1) Between "Cola" and "Diet Mountain Dew" from her debut album, what's up with Lana's cold pop fixation? And (2) What carbonated beverage does your pussy taste like?

"Body Electric" is the next song, and it opens with the lines, "Elvis is my daddy/Marilyn's my mother/Jesus is my bestest friend." The rest of the song is, unfortunately, a let down. The entire chorus consists of Lana simply saying, "I sing the body electric." What the fuck is the body electric? I'm not sure, but I don't like Lana making up shit to sing about.

Lana's cover of "Blue Velvet" is, quite frankly, disturbing. If you've seen any of Lana's H&M commercials, this is the song playing. It truly makes me feel as if I'm about to get married in some seedy motel or something. I don't like it. At all. Moving on.

"Gods & Monsters" is a great song, if for nothing else but its title. Keeping with the overall theme of the album, the song is about sex. "In the land of gods and monsters/I was an angel looking to get fucked hard," she sings. And apparently, she gets her wish, as additional lyrics go: "Fuck yeah, give it to me/This is heaven, what I truly want." I just wonder if she nailed a god or a monster.

The next song, "Yayo", makes me want to die. Seriously, even Lana sounds like the life is being drained from her as she sings. I'm not sure what a yayo is, but I'm applying the "Body Electric" principle here. I don't like songs about made-up shit!

The final song on the standard edition, "Bel Air" is wonderful because the music makes me feel like I'm driving down Wisteria Lane on a bright spring day. The song successfully conveys the opulence of its namesake, and I'm all for things about rich people.

If you get the album on iTunes, you'll be treated to the bonus track "Burning Desire". It might as well be titled "Ride Part II", as it is incredibly similar to the opening song, at least in theme. One one hand, this makes it a great finale for the album; on the other hand, it seems rather excessive.

In conclusion, Paradise is classic Lana. She exudes the same sex-crazed, love-starved fragility that was at the heart of Born to Die. It proves that Lana is more than a one-hit wonder, but also reminds us all, with its many flaws, that she isn't the savior of pop music as she was once heralded.

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