My Verse

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place
What is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
PSALM 8:3-4

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Video Games" by Lana Del Rey Song Review

"It's you, it's you, it's all for you / Everything I do / I tell you all the time / Heaven is a place on earth with you / Tell me all the things you want to do"
Lana Del Rey, "Video Games"

When one hears of a song with the title "Video Games", one would probably expect some kind of a nerdy pop song with a bunch of unnecessary references to the titular entertainment medium. At least, that's what I expected when I heard of American singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey's first single off of her second album Born To Die. I thusly ignored it and didn't get around to actually hearing the song for the first time until a few weeks ago, when I watched a review of the album. The style of the album piqued my interest and I located the music video for it.

"Video Games" actually has very little to do with video games, though they are mentioned. I've heard it's supposed to be about trying to get the attention of a video game addicted boyfriend, but I didn't get that feeling from the song. It's really a simple love song, referencing good times that Del Rey and the object of her affections have had with each other. However, the feeling of the song is bipolar at best. 

Del Rey seems to want to be a "bad girl" and references a lot of "bad girl" types of things, but the music is so unfitting for that ideal. With lines like "He holds me in his big arms / drunk and I am seeing stars .... this is my idea of fun", it's not a song that sounds serious over this music. The music is a somber, sullen take on baroque pop, with absolutely beautiful piano lines built over a giant soundscape of strings. If I ignore the lyrics on everything except the chorus, I'm almost brought to tears by it. And that's the most prevalent problem here.

Del Rey's singing is excellent. It's deep, throaty and emotive. She really pushes this song out and makes it sound very mournful, and that's the root of the problem. The lyrics don't really seem that deep or sad, they're really rather superficial. The lyrics sound too similar to something from a Ke$ha song for me to take them seriously. While Del Rey really does well to make me still feel for her, the lyrics really hurt it. I never got a girl trying to seduce an addicted boyfriend out of this. I got a girl who wants the old days back when she and her lover truly loved each other. There are glimpses of this in the lyrics, but nothing more.

And just to mention the music video, I thought it was excellent and really fit the mood of the song. It's a montage of what look like old home video clips with the standard "home video effects" over them, some distortion of the vid and such, and Del Rey singing sultrily into the camera. The video, when paired with the music, is very somber and feels very longing.

I'm torn on this song. I absolutely love the instrumentation and the vocal quality, but the weird juxtaposition of the lyrics really gets to me. It makes it hard for me to take it seriously. I want to give it a higher score, but I can't.

Lana Del Rey, "Video Games": 6/10

On a side note, if she started singing some old folk tunes like "Shenandoah", I would pick that up in a minute. But that's just me.


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