5 years ago today (Jan. 31), Lana Del Rey blessed us with the U.S. release of her major-label debut Born To Die, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and established Lana as one of 21st-century pop’s cult icons.
The New York songstress, born Elizabeth Grant, tells many stories on the album, ranging from adventurous, dangerous love on “Off to the Races” to rebellious-youth reminiscences on “This Is What Makes Us Girls.” She gave the pop-noir sound her own hip-hop-influenced flavor, and in many ways, the album transformed Del Rey from an indie sensation into a mainstream superstar.
The acclaimed album is dripping with quotable lyrics about sex, drugs, red party dresses and everything in between. Here are the best from each of the 15 tracks on the album’s deluxe edition.
“Born To Die”
“Don’t make me sad, don’t make me cry/ Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough, I don’t know why”
Accepting that not every love is meant to last forever, Del Rey wants to enjoy the romance while she can and not waste time being upset.
“Off To The Races”
“He likes to watch me in the glass room, bathroom, Chateau Marmont/ Slippin’ on my red dress, puttin’ on my makeup/ Glass room, perfume, cognac, lilac fumes/ Says it feels like heaven to him”
The ultimate Bonnie and Clyde romance, Del Rey creates the image of her lover watching and admiring her in their hotel room as she gets ready for the evening.
“You were sorta punk rock, I grew up on hip hop/ But you fit me better than my favorite sweater, and I know/ That love is mean, and love hurts/ But I still remember that day we met in December”
A recurring theme of love being challenging, this lyric highlights that even though they have differences, Lana and her love compliment each other well, as do the worlds of hip-hop and punk.
“I tell you all the time/ Heaven is a place on earth with you/ Tell me all the things you want to do/ I heard that you like the bad girls honey, is that true?”
Off arguably the most popular song on the album, Del Rey explained in the Oct. 2011 issue of Dazed that the lyrics in the single’s chorus explained the way she wished her relationship was, while the verses reflected reality.
“Diet Mountain Dew”
“Maybe I like this rollercoaster/ Maybe it keeps me high”
While a rollercoaster may be an unsettling experience for many, Del Rey is learning to enjoy the ride.
“He said to be cool but/ I’m already coolest/ I said to get real/ Don’t you know who you’re dealing with?”
Both the “National Anthem” music video (which features a presidential A$AP Rocky) and lyrics show a clear connection with Marilyn Monroe and JFK. As she moves through the song, Del Rey finds herself becoming more arrogant and money-obsessed.
“And there’s no remedy for memory your face is/ Like a melody, it won’t leave my head”
Just like a song you can’t get out of your head, whether it’s good or bad, Del Rey simply can’t stop thinking about her lover’s face.
“Now my life is sweet like cinnamon/ Like a f–king dream I’m living in”
This lyric speaks of fame as a double-edged sword. While her life my be a dream, she also uses cinnamon to describe it, which is actually bitter.
“She gives them butterflies, bats her cartoon eyes/ She laughs like God, her mind’s like a diamond”
People have fallen in love with Carmen for her looks, but few realize that she’s troubled by the life she’s leading, and the fact that she hides her sadness. She’s painted as a master of seduction.
“Million Dollar Man”
“I don’t know how you get over, get over/ Someone as dangerous, tainted and flawed as you”
Although this man is flawed in numerous ways, Del Rey loves him for it all the same, and finds it impossible to forget their romance.
“Honey I’m on fire, I feel it everywhere/ Nothing scares me anymore”
Dealing with all kinds of “summertime sadness,” Del Rey finds herself letting go of her past flame and this gives her a sense of fearlessness.
“This Is What Makes Us Girls”
“Sweet sixteen and we had arrived/ Baby’s table dancin’ at the local dive/ Cheerin’ our names in the pink spotlight/ Drinkin’ cherry schnapps in the velvet night”
Underage drinking, barroom dancing, cheap liquor – this lyric has it all.
“Summertime is nice and hot/ And my life is sweet like vanilla is/ Gold and silver line my heart/ But burned into my brain are these stolen images”
While Dey Rey has everything she’s worked for and has wanted her whole life, she still can’t erase the images of what could have been from her head. Regardless of the success, there is still something missing.
“I want my cake and I want to eat it too/ I want to have fun and be in love with you”
These two lines say essentially the same thing – Del Rey wants love, but also the freedom to break hearts at the same time.
“I tried so hard to act nice like a lady/ You taught me that it was good to be crazy”
The closing track is a love song where Del Rey feels accepted and loved for all that she is, and these lyrics perfectly embody that. She’s met someone who makes her feel comfortable and love who she is as opposed to trying to conform to expectations.