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I loved it, but too short
on January 11, 2013
Paradise is an "afterthought" on Born to Die. It has less overbearing production with more synth and electric guitar sounds and a more understated orchestra. The vocal style is also less dynamic than BTD so the pace seems slower. However, LDR's sense of melody and vocal drama is still very strong. I would give it five stars on the basis of quality, but I ended up giving four stars for quantity. Only two or three more songs would make a full release, and of the many awesome leaked/unreleased songs revealed during 2012, there were some that fit the mood of the EP. Further, two songs on Paradise are technically beforethoughts. One is "Blue Velvet", a faithful cover of a famous old song, which showcases her voice in a smooth/controlled mode. Another is "Yayo" from "Lana Del Ray aka Lizzy Grant", a pre-debut (?) album commercially unavailable for reasons I've never understood. Paradise's Yayo is faithful to its original but more stripped-down and echoey. It has a jazzier and more emotional singing style than the rest of Paradise and makes for a really great song; however, does re-visiting Yayo mean a re-release of "... aka Lizzy Grant" is coming (a 5-star release), or is it some kind of salvage operation?
The new songs on Paradise, written after BTD, seem movie inspired in their feel. They are strangely similar to each other, and are impressively distinct in style from BTD. Fans and reviewers have different opinions of what's strong and weak, which I take to be a sign of interesting work. "Ride" is like a laid-back but amply orchestrated country/folk song. Check out the Ride video on youtube, one of the more controversial videos of 2012; also google "indexmagazine lizzy grant" for an interview that might suggest she had projects like the Ride video and the Paradise musical style in mind back in 2008. "American" might be a make-up song to the United States with whom she's had less media exposure and more nasty reviews than in Europe. However, her US relationship seems less about fans that love her and anti-fans that hate her but more a strong fan-base vs. some US musical establishments/pundits trying to dismiss her. To me, this is the most interesting kind of polarization an artist can have. So, imo, "American" is best considered just a love song to Americans, United States included, but also the entire continent (she's big in Mexico and Brazil). "Cola" has that wonderful line we were warned about 2 months prior to the release of Paradise (youtube Paradise Edition preview). Along with that lyric, which will never be heard in a mall, the song has some excellent relaxed skatting (wish it had more). "Body Electric" was first heard on youtube as a raw and over-the-top live performance from her 2012 tour. While many fans prefer it that way, the studio version still grips the listener with her vocals, ominous strings, dramatic (symphonic-style) drumming, and understated Hawaiian metal guitars. It differs from the live the way a studio version should, imo. "Gods and Monsters" is a (seemingly) angry, disillusioned song about "innocence lost" (aka debauchery). Some media reviews suggest the song refers to her recent life, but I think the situations probably just interest her artistically (she has "Nabokov Whitman" tattooed on her arm, afterall). Finally, "Bel Air" closes with a pretty direct acoustic-style tune elaborated by a memorable piano background. It's mellow and theatrical at the same time and was co-written with a movie-score composer that she knows (Daniel Heath). The whole EP is on Spotify (and some on youtube), so you can make up your own mind. My overall opinion is that Lana is well worth casting a commercial vote for, if you want to see pop music go more her way.