Musicality

Lana Del Rey
Born To Die
(Interscope Records)
The beginning track of Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die is seductive, but it somehow turns into a monotonous train with one fate – derailment. I couldn’t help but keep listening to it, like a crash that one can’t help but stare at. I’m glad I did because I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Critics want to rip Lana Del Rey apart for everything she’s done, from her less-than-glamorous Saturday Night Live debut to the actual release of her CD. Their comments stretch so far that some say she is just an Adele copycat. That couldn’t be further from the truth. They both sing about sad, heart-wrenching topics, but their musical styles are from different planets that have yet to make contact.

Lana Del Rey isn’t fooling me with her vocals taking an upward tone at times. She’s darker than she sings. She sings hip-hop with classical musicality and a tinge of “Sneaker Pimps” grunge heartache. It’s appropriate that she sings a confusing mix of genres, because in my opinion she has probably never felt like she completely belongs to one set of musical styles. It’s as though she is trying to be a diva-meets-an-operatic-singer from the wrong side of the tracks. I know it’s ridiculous, but the absurdity in the drama of her voice draws me to her. It’s as if the lyrics constrain her and the only way she can truly project what she struggles to say is to sing it through atmospheric changes in tone.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I like about Lana Del Rey, but I do like what she has created. I really, really do. Her first single, “Video Games,” is the worst song on the album. However, the rest of the album definitely deserves a shot. My favorites are “Blue Jeans,” “Diet Mountain Dew,” “National Anthem,” and “Summertime Sadness.”
Rumer
Seasons of My Soul
(Atlantic Records)
Rumer’s pleasant voice is the most noticeable aspect of this CD and its 11 tracks that are best described as soulful lullabies. They are soft, sweet, and above all, simple. The songs may not have been easy to write, but they are amazingly easy on the ears. There is nothing bad on the album.

The only negative characteristic about it is that Rumer played it safe. Though I did enjoy the mix of guitar, piano and violin that was often used, she didn’t include anything too different. There isn’t enough setting her apart from other great artists. She does not seem challenged enough. Overall, the album is good, but not particularly memorable. My favorite tracks were “Blackbird,” “Saving Grace,” and “Am I Forgiven?”
The Black Keys
El Camino
(Nonesuch Records)
The biggest problem with alternative rock is the lack of stability within an album. A group often has three or four amazing tracks on a CD, but the rest is disappointing. El Camino is entirely different. The Black Keys have managed to fill it with amazing and unique tracks. Though the style of music is the same, each song has a different feel to it.

“Lonely Boy” is the perfect start to this CD. It is a song that is almost impossible to not enjoy, no matter what style of music you like. This CD is recommended for anyone who enjoys catchy rhythms and the exquisite roughness of an electric guitar. The vocals are raw and a little rough around the edges, which goes perfectly with the bouncy, up-tempo melodies. It is tough to pick favorites from such a great and complete album. Here are the songs I would suggest to a first-time listener: “Lonely Boy,” “Gold on the Ceiling,” “Little Black Submarines,” and “Run Right Back.”

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