Billboard is celebrating the 2010s with essays on the 100 songs that we feel most define the decade that was -- the songs that both shaped and reflected the music and culture of the period -- with help telling their stories from some of the artists, behind-the-scenes collaborators and industry insiders involved.
In 2011, Lana Del Rey didn’t just introduce us to a signature sound, style, or swagger -- she drove us into a new universe. Del Rey turned the key to a world of glamorous sadness and the lungs of Old Hollywood began to rise and fall again with every note, lyric and melody on “Born to Die,” released in January 2012 as the title track of her major label debut.
The sweeping string arrangements, brilliant storytelling and hip-hop flavor makes the track one of the most standout musical moments on the album. “When I first heard the demo, it just had this moment where I almost had to gasp for air,” John Ehmann, then an A&R at Interscope Records -- whose first signing was Del Rey -- tells Billboard. “It just sounded so dynamic and unique, I knew at that point that it was really going to cut through. We just knew exactly where this was going to go -- and that it was going to explode.”