Born to Die - Lana Del Rey
Born to Die Image
Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 490 Ratings

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  • Summary: The full-length debut for the New York singer features the single Video Games, which appeared on the CW TV series Ringer.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. A delicious hybrid of Portishead and Nancy Sinatra.
  2. Jan 27, 2012
    80
    Born to Die is a brilliant album, but it's one that leaves room for a few improvements, and inspires confidence that they'll happen.
  3. Feb 21, 2012
    80
    Confirms her as the most compelling new pop star around: half doomed romantic, half mordant cynic, with a distinctively conflicted vision of how love, fame and America work. [Mar 2012, p.94]
  4. Jan 30, 2012
    60
    Even the terrible parts of Born to Die are just so lovable, which bodes well for the actually great parts.
  5. Feb 2, 2012
    60
    After that highpoint ["Video Games"] things head downhill quickly.
  6. Feb 28, 2012
    50
    Spread over 12 songs, Del Rey becomes so ordinary, even bland, that no amount of little girl vocals or pouting can save her.
  7. Feb 3, 2012
    0
    I have done my best to place the album, as a series of utterances, in its agony and vacuity.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 9 out of 156
  1. Mar 23, 2014
    10
    This album is absolutely brilliant. Ms. Del Rey, who has suffered a hail of criticism, outrage, and spleen out of all proportion to her supposed crimes, has a lovely and agile voice that aptly serves her songs’ lyrics and their arrangements. Many “mature” and “established” artists could only wish to create an album of this quality in their CAREERS, let alone in a freshman offering.

    The surprising thing to me is that her debut album remains so subtle in its cynicism, its disillusionment, and its criticism of our society's values, given the levels of snark and bile spewed at her for her supposed dishonesty and lack of authenticity (not to mention her rich daddy, her plastic surgery, her fake name, her lack of musical talent, her poor stage presence, and her mediocre singing voice, did I get them all?) The hating hate of these hateful haters (as it might be said on the interwebz) would be over the top even if the dismissals and passionate dislike were based on fact. No artist or performer deserves this level of vitriolic abuse; after all, this isn't Milli Vanilli we're talking about - it isn't even Ashley Simpson or Adele or Amy Winehouse or Miley Cyrus. What is really at the crux of this mad-on?

    The anonymity of the internet brings out the worst in our natures; the protected status of "critics gives them an undeserved level of influence over our values (is it 'good' or is it 'bad') and our purchasing behavior (buy this album, see this concert, etc.). We always see the emperor's new clothes because someone tells us we should. So Ms. Del Rey is labeled an untalented, deceptive, spoiled little rich girl who doesn't really have the cred to roll with the Big Kids. Whoever they are.

    I have to wonder if these critics have actually LISTENED to Ms. Del Rey's album, "Born to Die"? I hear an incredibly well-crafted, nuanced, and beautiful album. Is Ms. Del Rey a pop singer or an indie? Who cares? This is lush, moody melancholia and heartbreak fashioned into aching melodies and arrangements. It seems to me that the distinction between what is "indie" (and thus increases my level of "hip" - after all, I am discerning enough to listen to it) and what is "pop" is a matter of expectation and record-company (and radio station) manipulation. This is a distinction that developed with the rise of FM radio of the early 70s; it wasn't valid then, and certainly isn't today. It should be relegated to mean-spiritedness of (junior?) high school, where it belongs. LDR is what she is, even after all the A&R people, the attorneys, her managers, and her cosmetic surgeon (I suppose), and what she is isn’t nearly as important as what she does. And what she does, or at least has done here, is make heartbreaking, beautiful music.

    I don't know what genre this music is. Emo? Maybe. Retro lounge act? Some. Hip-hop? A pinch or two. "National Anthem" is an excellent example of one of Ms. Del Rey's most appealing and intriguing methods - the combination, and especially the juxtaposition, of different genres, different styles. This is a consistent motif - the clash of reality vs. hopes; of lush, heavily orchestrated torch/cocktail time with urban hop; of melancholy, minor keyed structures against lyrics that seem innocuous, even vapid, but that actually skewer the banality and emptiness of so much of our lives and relationships ("you're the bestest!").

    Is there a sameness to the songs? Not really. These songs are complex, mischievous, sharp-as-a-scalpel lyrics and music that bear the mark of a sly, naughty little “bad girl” in devil’s horns and pitchfork platforms. You didn’t like bad girls before she showed up in her cocktail dress and butterfly barrettes? Well now you do. But there is also the girl who is making the best of a series of **** situations. Does anyone honestly think “Video Games” should be taken at face value as a love song? Her “persona” may be manufactured, but she wears it as well as she does her buttoned-down white blouse. Her much maligned SNL performance seemed to me to capture that projection of her identity very well. The music was technically excellent. Her voice, though a bit quavering early on, was as clear and as strong as it was on her album. Sometimes, when the whole world is gone to **** and you didn’t even get a ticket, there’s nothing left to do but touch your hair, move your hand in a gesture expressive of feelings you don’t even recall, and twirl around in a circle. At least you look beautiful in your party dress.

    Ms. Del Rey’s party dress is especially lovely.
    Expand
  2. Feb 6, 2012
    10
    Love it, im obsessed with this album, her music, her voice, her words. â
  3. Jan 31, 2012
    10
    Having went and looked at many reviews by critics I am disgusted. Disgusted at the fact that none are really review the album. But in fact discussing Lana Del Rey (lips, one bad SNL performance, ext) Everything but the album itself really. This is one of the best and most cohesive albums I've heard in quite sometime. The similarity (if any) in some of the songs keeps the story of the album consistent. Songs on the album like "Carmen" "Lolita" "Dark Paradise" and "National Anthem" sound nothing alike. So I beg to differ with what some (Critics) have said thus Far. I'm glad that the buying public or those with sense have and are going to take time to give her a chance. Some have evaded what critics have said and went ahead previewed and then bought the album. Solely because they HEAR the music and not clouded with judgement of the artist. I wish Lana the best and hope more LISTEN to the album and understand it. Expand
  4. Feb 9, 2014
    9
    Dark, haunting, and extremely beautiful. Favourite tracks: Radio, Blue Jeans, Million Dollar Man, Dark Paradise, Off to the Races and National Anthem.
  5. Feb 2, 2012
    8
    I absolutely love this album. Sure there are several tracks that are in the same vein as Video Games, but that's exactly what I expected. Each track has heart and the album actually feels like a light-conceptual piece that frankly sounds better than just about any pop album around right now. The critics are simply being unfair. These are the same people that gave Britney Spears' last album As and Bs. Come on.... Expand
  6. Jan 31, 2012
    7
    Very good album overall. Isn't it hilarious how the American critics are the ones generally dissecting her due to her bad SNL debut performance, while the U.K critics are the ones praising her? It goes to show how impressionable the U.S media is, had she not bombed on SNL she wouldn't receive such scathing reviews and you can tell what's the center of a lot of these reviews; her past personal life.

    Top tracks:

    Video Games
    Born To Die
    Radio
    Summertime Sadness
    Million Dollar Man
    Expand
  7. Feb 28, 2012
    0
    The weakest part of the album is the lyrics and the singing. The lyrics and vocal lack empathy, there is nothing raw or engaging about either. The Music is so heavily produced that is enhances this problem even more so, the three don't sit well together. When the songwriter is the weakest link how can you expect to have an album that puts a spell on everyone. Full marks for hype and trending though. Expand

See all 156 User Reviews