The first major-label release for singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey, back in 2012, undoubtedly brought about a new wave in pop music for the 2010s and onward. For seven years, Lana Del Rey struggled to find her identity and sound in the music industry. During this time, she went by various stage names and recorded hundreds of songs that were never released. The singer’s career was catapulted by her soft and melodic discography and romanticized yet dark songwriting that would influence alternative pop for years to come.
Despite her stagnant rise, Lana Del Rey persevered and released two singles in 2011. These songs excited fans for her upcoming 2012 album, Born to Die. With the songs “Video Games” and “Born to Die” (the titular single), Lana Del Rey finally gained the attention that she deserved from listeners and critics. “Video Games” in particular, which remains her most popular song to date, features her familiar, euphoric sound with the use of several instruments: including strings, keyboard, piano, as well as percussion. Her poetic lyrics only enhance this sound, showing the public that Del Rey is a true lyricist. The chorus itself, “It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you, Everything I do, I tell you all the time, Heaven is a place on earth with you…” is touching, painting a picture in the heads of those listening. Though good songwriting is not anything new, the late 2000s/early 2010s were a time where electronic dance music and upbeat party songs dominated the charts. While there is not anything inherently wrong with that, Lana Del Rey was definitely offering something different at the time, broadcasting to a new audience. It put her name on the map as a potential legend, as she is often compared to Stevie Nicks.
“Video Games” was not the only song on the album that piqued the interest of music lovers around the world. “Blue Jeans” has gone down in history for its exquisite sound and lyrics. When coupled with the dramatic use of instruments (a common theme in Del Rey’s songs) and her old Hollywood voice, “Blue Jeans” is a classic. The opening chords and faint shouting in the background during the intro from past shows, a unique technique used in Del Rey’s songs, lets listeners know that they are in for a trippy stream. These are just two examples of many of Lana Del Rey’s legendary styles that have gone on to influence pop in the 2010s, with her vintage aesthetic and sound appealing to the world. Singers such as Lorde, Billie Eilish, and Clairo have followed suit in Del Rey’s so-called “gimmick,” yet have amounted to far greater success in a shorter amount of time. Quite frankly, it is almost unfair to Del Rey. “Born to Die” is an underappreciated album that contains some of the most influential alternative pop sounds of the early 2010s. Overall, I would, without hesitation, give it a ten out of ten rating.