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Best of 2012 #6: Paradise

Merry Christmas everyone! I'm shivering in my fuzzy robe and slippers here as I bring to you my gift: a review of a lovely EP by a lovely lady. Lana Del Rey, oh, how do I begin? Well, I'm certainly not going to start with how I got into her---that's a story for later. Hint hint. Anyway, after the massive success of her début album, Born To Die, Lana shocked the world by announcing that she didn't think she would be making any more music. Children cried. How could we go on?

Thankfully, she later changed her mind and announced that she would be rereleasing Born To Die as Born To Die: Paradise Edition with 8 lovely new tracks. Now, for people who already own Born To Die twice[1. I wanted the deluxe edition of Born To Die, and I was unaware that it was not being sold in the US so I purchased what I THOUGHT was the deluxe edition only to receive the standard version a few days later. It did contain an awesome 7" record with remixes of Video Games and Blue Jeans, though, which was so awesome I couldn't part with it. I later bought the correct deluxe edition internationally.], this was a bit annoying, but in another stroke of good luck, Lana also released the new tracks of Born To Die: Paradise Edition on its own cute little EP named Paradise. How fun. Let's appreciate that cover art, shall we?


She's beautiful, isn't she? The cover art really does make you think of paradise. Now, since this is an EP with not that many tracks, and because so many of the tracks are standout tracks, I'm going to talk about all of them! We'll begin with the first single from the EP, Ride. Ride has been both praised and criticized as being very reminiscent of the Del Rey style we saw on Born To Die, and indeed I do not like Ride very much because it just doesn't seem to mean much. Her smokey vocals and flowery music just does not seem different. The second track, American, however, sets a better tone for the rest of the EP: it feels contained, yearning to explode into passion in the chorus and her usage of her voice as an instrument in American works far better than it did in Ride. It feels more like a subdued, beautiful paradise than the forced one of Ride.

Now, of course, there's the infamous Cola. It starts off with the hook "My pussy tastes like Pepsi cola," and her sultry voice carries you through the rest of the banging tale of homewrecking. It of course has all of her standard Del Rey symbols like American flags and Daddies (the latter of which I must say really does unnerve me but whatever), but what I must say really gets me is the high-pitched warbling she does during the middle-eight---listening to it I was so shocked that she was able to hit those notes. It's really quite beautiful and impressive. Now, the next track, Body Electric, is one she's been performing at concerts for a while now. Body Electric sounds scared. She sings about Marilyn, Jesus, suicide and opulence, and while she then brings it back partying at night, that haunting line still repeats itself in our minds, "I sing the body electric." Of course, I Sing The Body Electric is a Walt Whitman poem about the human body, so we may infer that this song is about Lana's body insecurities and America's tendency to inflict body issues on young girls being the reason America is not Paradise. The song itself is very haunting and it does indeed grow on you.

Blue Velvet, of course, was not written by Lana---it is a cover of a 1954 single from The Clovers. Lana's rendition of this classic song, however, is simply beautiful. It sounds very different from the original because she adds her own personal paradisiacal flair to it. It takes you back, man. Grooving out of this mellow tune, however, we enter into a dark land, the land of Gods & Monsters, one of my favorite tracks on the EP. This celestial banger enters your soul and threatens to take it away, but as Lana sings, "No one's gonna take my soul away." It is perhaps the most powerful track on the EP, brimming with "innocence lost."

Lana completely takes it away with the next track, however. Yayo is a remake of a track from her fledgling record under her original name, Lizzy Grant. I have not been fortunate enough to hear the original recording of this track (though here is a very adorable live performance of it!), but this recording simply blows me away. It is so raw, so smoky and so sad. I also just learned that "yayo" is slang for cocaine. Okay. That's interesting. Finally, there is Bel Air, my favorite, favorite, favorite Lana song ever. The chimes, the children playing, the ambience is perfect. Her vocals, her lyrics, "I know your name." This song FEELS like paradise. Her voices manages to trail off in the most beautiful ways in this track. It is simply amazing, and it wraps the EP up so perfectly.

Paradise is truly an impressive EP, and it is a beautiful addition to Born To Die. 2012 truly has been Lana's year. Let's hope 2013 works for her as well.

Hatkirby on December 25th, 2012 at 10:00:30am
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