I Meant To Listen To: Lana Del Rey, “Born To Die”

The first and, until very recently, only time I ever listened to Lana Del Rey was right after her album Born To Die was released. I heard maybe 45 seconds of her breakout hit, “Video Games” and immediately panned it. I just couldn’t get into it. So, in typical fashion, I casted it aside and didn’t give Lana Del Rey much of a second thought.

I don’t live under a rock as I am very much aware that Lana Del Rey is not a flash in the pan artist. She is quite successful and very influential. Anyone who tries to keep up with current and popular music is well aware of this, but for many years, I just never gave her another listen.

One of the many benefits of writing this blog is to challenge myself. Because I never really listened to an album by Lana Del Rey, let alone an actual song, how do I know if I would actually enjoy her music? It’s a small investment of time to be completely sure, so thanks to the modern comforts of streaming, I fired up Born To Die and readied myself for an experience.

It was an experience I won’t soon forget.

I decided to listen to the album as I commuted to work. Pairing the album’s title track to riding Boston’s Orange Line synched up ever so perfectly. It was as if you could envision the opening credits to your life’s movie as the subway car rides over the Mystic river. What I had initially criticized as something that came across as empty and hopeless actually played itself into a lush landscape of varying emotions ranging from bleak heartlessness to unbridled swagger.

While I may not be in the intended demographic, I found myself relating to the general vibe of this album. I mean, who hasn’t been a complete idiot with love at some point?

Perfectly balancing the dream pop sensibilities with a crushingly bouncing beat, songs like “Off To The Races”, “Diet Mountain Dew”, and “National Anthem” are truly anthemic. Where I found Born To Die to excel were in the tracks “Dark Paradise”, a haunting tale of lost love, and “Million Dollar Man“, a song that I could almost mistake for Neptune City-era Nicole Atkins. If you know anything about me, you’d know that I think everything Nicole Atkins produces is fabulous.

And yes, I still don’t enjoy “Video Games” quite as much as the rest of the album, I sadly did myself a disservice by waiting seven long years to listen to Born To Die. This is an incredible record that I stupidly ignored for far too long. I’m glad to have gone on this journey and now I can reach into Lana Del Rey’s catalog to help soundtrack the future commutes and travels in my life.

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