Lana Del Rey (EP)
|Lana Del Rey|
|EP by Lana Del Rey|
|Released||January 10, 2012|
|Genre||Alternative, indie, pop|
|Producer||Emile Haynie, Patrik Berger, Robopop|
|Lana Del Rey chronology|
Lana Del Rey is the second extended play (EP) by American singer-songwriter, Lana Del Rey. It was released on January 10, 2012 in the United States and Canada through Interscope Records. After publishing two unsuccessful works, her first EP, Kill Kill; and her first studio album, Lana Del Rey a.k.a. Lizzy Grant, the four-track EP was released in anticipation of Del Rey's major label debut Born to Die (2012). The tracks draw influence from several genres, including indie pop, hip hop, and alternative rock. The lyrics and melody were written primarily by Del Rey, Patrik Berger, and Justin Parker. Production of the album was led by Emile Haynie, who also co-wrote "Blue Jeans".
Contemporary critics gave mixed reviews of the EP. Music videos accompanied each single, which were produced by Del Rey herself and uploaded to YouTube. Although the video for "Video Games" that Del Rey filmed with her webcam was not intended as a single at the time, it garnered enough online buzz to be noticed by Stranger Records, opening the opportunity for Del Rey to sign a joint record deal with Interscope and Polydor, leading to the eventual publication of the EP and additional videos for "Blue Jeans" and "Born to Die".
Selling over 24,000 copies in the United States, the EP peaked at number twenty on the Billboard 200, peaking at six on the Rock Albums chart and six on the Alternative Albums chart. Three of the four songs became singles on Born to Die, each charting internationally.
Del Rey was born in New York City, New York in 1986 and was raised in Lake Placid, a quiet village outside of New York. At age fifteen, she was sent to boarding school in Connecticut, before moving to New York City at eighteen to study metaphysics at Fordham University. While attending the university, according to Del Rey, her musical experience began here, discovering the right acquaintances on her own. After her uncle taught her how to play guitar, she realized that she could probably write "a million" songs with only those six chords. She then began performing in clubs in New York City, using various stage names such as Sparkle Rope Jump Queen and Lizzy Grant and the Phenomena. Recalling the experience, Del Rey said, "I was always singing, but didn't plan on pursuing it seriously. When I got to New York City when I was 18, I started playing in clubs in Brooklyn – I have good friends and devoted fans on the underground scene, but we were playing for each other at that point – and that was it".
At age twenty, Del Rey signed a USD$10,000 recording contract and moved to a trailer park outside of New York City. The album that she recorded was later shelved, catalyzing her to pivot her focus. Instead, she began work in community service, and for the next five years, worked at homeless outreach, drug, and alcohol rehabilitation centers. A few years later, Del Rey signed to 5 Point Records, an independent record label owned by David Kahne. With the label, she released the three-track EP, Kill Kill, in October 2008 and a full-length studio album Lana Del Ray in 2010. After hearing Del Rey's demo, Kahne contacted her; she obliged, knowing his reputation as a producer and his wish to produce music other than pop. Del Rey also explained why she then changed her stage name from Lizzy Grant to Lana Del Rey: "I wanted a name I could shape the music towards. I was going to Miami quite a lot at the time, speaking a lot of Spanish with my friends from Cuba – Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside. It sounded gorgeous coming off the tip of the tongue".
After uploading a few of her tracks to her YouTube channel, Del Rey was discovered and got signed by Stranger Records to release her debut single "Video Games". She told The Observer that "Video Games" was never intended to be a single, but she enjoyed the video and uploaded on the internet. The song earned her a Q Award for "Next Big Thing" in October 2011. Later that month, she signed a joint record deal with Interscope Records and Polydor to release her second studio album, Born to Die. Del Rey build anticipation to the album by doing a number of live appearances, such as promotional concerts at the Bowery Ballroom and at the Chateau Marmont, and with performances at television shows such as De Wereld Draait Door, and Later... with Jools Holland. To further promote the upcoming release of Born to Die, Interscope Records released a four track EP in the United States and Canada on January 10, 2012. The four tracks that appear on the EP ("Video Games", "Born to Die", and "Off to the Races" were previously available for purchase as singles in international markets.
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Del Rey stated the use of her lower vocals on the tracks claiming that "people weren't taking me very seriously, so I lowered my voice, believing that it would help me stand out. Now I sing quite low... well, for a female anyway." The singer's first singles, "Video Games" and "Born to Die" were described variously as "quasi-cabaret balladry", "woozy and sometimes soporific soundtrack soul", "pop", and "indie pop". Other genres attributed to the EP include: Adult alternative pop, alternative rock, and indie rock.
Her own description of her music is "Hollywood sadcore". Tim Lee of musicOMH noted the songs are extremely similar, commenting that "her (alleged) agents clearly having stumbled upon a formula with which they can (allegedly) print money and (allegedly) further consign Lana's secretive, (allegedly) real debut LP to the annals of history. You didn't hear it from us, right?" Del Rey has once described herself as a "gangsta Nancy Sinatra", though she cites Britney Spears, Elvis Presley, and Kurt Cobain as her musical influences.
The third track, "Blue Jeans", was influenced by hip hop and has a minimalist beat that recalls songs by Timbaland. Del Rey also raps in a few verses of the song such as "You’re so fresh to death and sick as cancer [...] Love you more than those bitches before". "Off to the Races" has been lyrically described as "a freak show of inappropriate co-dependency", with a chorus that recalls Sheryl Crow's "down and out drunken loner persona" in her 1994 single "Leaving Las Vegas". Pryia Elan of NME noted the track "almost falls under the weight of this persona. There's none of 'Video Games'' measured, piano-led reflection. Instead the psychosexual rumblings of the lyrics and the dual voices she uses off set the comparatively simple musical shades on display."
The EP received mixed reviews from contemporary critics. Bill Lamb of About.com awarded the EP four out of five stars, and described Del Rey's vocal styling and instrumentation arrangement as "arresting". Lamb additionally added that the content of the EP stray too similar, questioning Del Rey's ability to maintain a listeners attention over a full length album. Despite the similar sounds, Lamb showed great appreciation for Del Rey's ability to generate some mystery personally in being very selective in revealing details about herself throughout the EP. John Bush of Allmusic considered the singer a femme fatale "with a smoky voice, a languorous image, and a modeling contract". However, Bush rated the EP 2.5 stars out of five, considering it only "as a teaser from the album".
The EP entered the Billboard 200 on the chart issue of January 21, 2012 at number 20, after selling 14,000 digital copies. As of February 1, 2012, it has sold 24,000 digital copies in the United States.
|1.||"Video Games"||Lana Del Rey, Justin Parker||Robopop||4:03|
|2.||"Born to Die"||Del Rey, Parker||Emile Haynie||4:45|
|3.||"Blue Jeans"||Del Rey, Haynie, Dan Heath||Haynie||3:30|
|4.||"Off to the Races"||Del Rey, Tim Larcombe||Patrik Berger, Haynie||5:01|
|Canada (Canadian Albums Chart)||18|
|US Billboard 200||20|
|US Billboard Alternative Albums||6|
|US Billboard Rock Albums||6|
|US Billboard Digital Albums||7|
|United States||January 10, 2012||Digital download|
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