Born to Die?

A while back, I compared Lana Del Rey to Tim Tebow. A week after her debut album dropped and a day after Superbowl XLVI, I still stand by my statement. I’m annoyed by how much media attention Tim and Lana receive, but I’m also terribly sympathetic towards both of them. Neither of them deserves such overwhelming amounts of scrutiny and negative criticism because they both seem like generally decent people who are just new to the spotlight. Granted, neither are the greatest at what they do, but they are both talented enough to achieve attention and success early in their careers, which I consider quite impressive in itself.

In Indianapolis, people paid more attention to Tebow than they paid to Joe Montana and Adam Sandler; in the world of sports, there is no reasonable explanation for that. I think Tebow’s a smart, likable guy who carries himself well on the field and in the public eye, but frankly, he’s one of the weakest quarterbacks in the league and wins games with a combination of resilience, luck and a strong defense.

I can’t help but feel the same way about Lana Del Rey – she is so incredibly polarizing. The media and the public have torn her to shreds for the past six months – before her record was even released. For whatever reason, she is a fairly easy target and people love to hate her. It could be her reinvented identity, her weird vixen mystique or her abnormally large lips, but honestly, Video Games was an excellent premier single and one of my favorite songs from 2011. A good song by an interesting, new person is hard to ignore.

Lana Del Rey – Video Games

There has been a lot of fuss about Lana’s Saturday Night Live performance – admittedly, it was pretty bad. But if you manage to sit through the whole performance, you can tell she’s just nervous. You can hear the same unsteady tremble that oftentimes peppers Taylor Swift’s voice when she’s singing a ballad at the VMA’s or the Country Music Awards. For many, Lana Del Rey’s appearance on SNL was their first time hearing her music and what they judge her talent level on. Seemingly unfair considering she’s a young, unseasoned and obviously terrified performer.

I really wanted her album to be good. I really did. I wanted her to get high marks on Rolling Stone and Pitchfork so she could give all of her haters the middle finger with those pointy, lavishly adorned nails of hers. Plus, I loved Video Games and Born to Die. Of course I was looking forward to a strong record with more gorgeous melodies and beautiful lyrics.

But alas, she fell short in the same way Tebow did in the playoffs. Her album just isn’t that good. I listened to it from start to finish three times and don’t like many tracks other than Video Games, Born to Die and Blue Jeans. Most of the other songs just seem like corny, rushed attempts to complete an album. Sadly, I concur with most of the musical criticisms about her record and personally wouldn’t give it more than a 5 or 6 out of 10.

I think Lana Del Rey’s shrinking under the pressure from all the critics, bloggers and cyberbullies. She backed out of SXSW, canceled her tour, won’t attend Fashion Week and told Vogue UK that she doesn’t plan on writing another record. Maybe she’s tired of the limelight and I don’t necessarily blame her. I think the press accelerated her career and frankly just hurt her feelings. I’m sure she misses the privacy and anonymity of being thin-lipped Lizzie Grant. But not writing another record seems like the worst possible solution – especially since she can easily top Born to Die. What’s the point of being the best new artist if you’re going to fall off the map at 25? Maybe she was born to die.

Lana Del Rey, if you’re reading this, I hope you realize you still have supporters. Liz Phair wrote a very strongly-worded opinion piece supporting you in The Wall Street Journal. Kristin Wiig seemingly defended you in a very convoluted way on Weekend Update and every copy of your CD is sold out at my favorite record store in Austin. You have raw talent, remarkable beauty and the potential to have an outstanding career in music. Think about it this way – Tim Tebow faces more flack than you and he just continues working hard and keeping his head high. If he can do it, you can too.

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