By now, people are pretty informed on who Lana Del Rey is. The American singer-songwriter rose into fame in 2011 for her fantastic, sleeper hit song “Video Games.” After receiving gradual recognition, she stirred controversy by performing what was considered “the worst music performance ever” on Saturday Night Live. Even through the criticism and online discrimination, Lana Del Rey released “Born to Die” and “Blue Jeans,” another two crazy-good tunes that led to her 2012 debut Born to Die, which received polarizing reviews. Again, this year, Lana Del Rey reveals her new 8-song EP, Paradise, which is used on its own and as a reissue for the “deluxe edition” of Born to Die. Many reasons of why Lana Del Rey is considered a deplorable pseudo persona is due to her consistent melancholic and tedious tracks, her lack of diversity, and controversial themes, which include incest, antifeminism, and prostitution advocacy. But the many reasons of why she is also considered a pop culture icon is because of her infatuating and vibrant music videos, her sensual, crooning voice, her mellow mood, and being a true artist, in the sense of integrating indie pop and alternative hip hop music. In Paradise, we see Lana Del Rey in the same basic form she has provided for music listeners in Born to Die. Songs individually could be deemed as simply the best work Lana Del Rey has done so far in her career, but the album as a whole seems pretty repetitive, melodramatically produced, and overall, too similar to Born to Die. However, the first track off Paradise, “Ride,” is actually surprisingly a great start for the 8-song EP. The 5-minute song is an intriguing pop ballad that includes some explicit lyrics, which can be just Lana Del Rey trying to esteem herself within the alternative hip hop culture. Some critics even say that “Ride” sounds similar to acclaimed British singer-songwriter Adele, but others may beg to differ. The 10-minute music video of “Ride,” is trying its best to be a “Lana Del Rey” video but comes off predictable and peculiar (Lana’s character is a prostitute hanging out with a biker gang). The second track, “American,” is another great addition to the list of actually good Lana Del Rey songs and brings a better-paced tune to Paradise. But, yet again, Lana Del Rey disappoints and actually comes off a little too explicit, lyrically in the detached “Cola” (My pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola/My eyes are wide like cherry pie). Again, she comes off a little too over-the-top in “Body Electric”, referencing famous actors and actresses as if she were related to them (Elvis is my daddy/Marilyn’s my mother/Jesus is my bestest friend). Fortunately, the next song is “Blue Velvet,” which is a cover of 1950s R&B group The Clovers and is, of course, coincidentally the same name to the acclaimed 1986 thriller directed by David Lynch. Its jazzy nostalgia and engaging sound makes it one of the most compelling off of Paradise. Unfortunately, those 15 seconds of fame — rather 2 minutes and 39 seconds — end quickly as Lana Del Rey transitions into the last three songs “Gods & Monsters,” “Yayo,” and “Bel Air,” which contain no genuine or diverse originality, making it an uneasy ending to Paradise.
Paradise is primarily up-and-down, melodically and lyrically, and Lana’s continuous attempt of alluding to celebrities, sex, drugs, explicit language, and pop culture can come off as annoying and overambitious. But there are, of course, at least a few songs that match perfectly with Lana Del Rey’s style and allure. It may not be her best work, even as a whole, but Lana Del Rey makes it work, at least for some.