In a time where every artist utilizes multiple social-media outlets to make a name, it can be difficult to separate the aesthetic and the art. In the case of singer Lana Del Rey, the 25-year-old New York City singer born Lizzy Grant, she offers a couple headscratchers: a self-proclaimed groaner of a title ("gangster Nancy Sinatra") and strange genre-definers (her Facebook says her music is "Hollywood Pop and Sad Core"). On most days, this would have me running for the hills, yet here I am, listening to "Video Games" repeatedly. Ignoring an artist's questionable "marketing" strategies becomes much easier when the songs are good. And "Video Games" is excellent.
Del Rey could remind you of Chan Marshall ("What will come out of her mouth next?"), the conversational-singing of Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse's sultry side. Her vocals are smokey and nuanced (she grew up performing in school plays and you can still hear her flair for the dramatic) with a sincerity that draws from in. She has two others songs (as Lana Del Rey; she put out an album titled Kill Kill as Lizzy Grant in 2010) -- the hypnotic "Diet Mtn Dew" and the uptempo, not-as-good "Kinda Outta Luck" -- but "Video Games" is her strongest effort.
She sings to the joy of pleasing her man, with the small details meaning everything ("I'm in his favorite sundress"). Just as Del Rey's image recalls an older generation, "Video Games" has her framing love in an older, traditional sense, with her man pulling up "in [your] fast car, whistling my name." The slight modern twist is he's drinking beer and playing a video game instead of working on a failing engine, but it's all the same. It's not the sexiest topic (Destiny's Child's "Cater 2 U" hit the "Indepedent" women with some backlash) but "Video Games" refuses to shy away from a timeless truth: There is still pleasure to be had in serving the person you love.
First spotted at Gorilla vs. Bear.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun