The album enforced Del Rey's image as an amalgam of sultry women continually caught under the heel of opportunistic and even sadistic men. The songs can be mostly characterized as a testament to the dark side of the American Dream and the prices a woman pays while selling her body on the silver screen. Some songs reference Lolita and 1960s caricatures of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy, who serve as examples of such tragic figures.
The album was controversial for this reason as well, with multiple feminists denouncing Del Rey's supposed glorification of female sexuality and servitude, and others criticizing its overproduction and the crooning slowness of her voice. Born to Die continues to remain both divisive and sexy, which accurately characterizes the singer herself.
An EP, Paradise, was released later that same year, before it was adjoined to the core album. Its tropes are listed here as well.
Tracklist (Deluxe Edition):
- "Born to Die" (4:46)
- "Off to the Races" (5:00)
- "Blue Jeans" (3:30)
- "Video Games" (4:42)
- "Diet Mountain Dew" (3:43)
- "National Anthem" (3:51)
- "Dark Paradise" (4:03)
- "Radio" (3:34)
- "Carmen" (4:08)
- "Million Dollar Man" (3:51)
- "Summertime Sadness" (4:25)
- "This Is What Makes Us Girls" (3:58)
- "Without You" (3:49)
- "Lolita" (3:40)
- "Lucky Ones" (3:45)
- "Ride" (4:49)
- "American" (4:08)
- "Cola" (4:20)
- "Body Electric" (3:53)
- "Blue Velvet" (2:38)
- "Gods & Monsters" (3:57)
- "Yayo" (5:21)
- "Bel Air" (3:57)
- "Burning Desire" (3:51)
"This Is What Makes Us Tropers"
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Pretty much every song on the album expresses this, to various degrees.
- Auto Erotica: "Diet Mountain Dew":Let's take Jesus off the dashboard
Got enough on his mind [...]
Baby stoppin' at 7-Eleven
There in his white Pontiac heaven
- Coming of Age Story: "Ride", especially with Lana's accompanying narration in the music video:"I was in the winter of my life, and the men I met along the road were my only summer. At night I fell asleep with visions of myself, dancing and laughing and crying with them. Three years down the line of being on an endless world tour, and my memories of them were the only things that sustained me, and my only real happy times. [...] Every night I used to pray that I'd find my people, and finally I did on the open road. We had nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore, except to make our lives into a work of art. Live fast. Die young. Be wild. And have fun."
- Also "This Is What Makes Us Girls".
- Concept Video: Mostly done to show depressed women.
- "Video Games", which ultimately made her famous, focuses on various relationships in tumult.
- "Born to Die" is mostly about a girl in an abusive relationship, making out with him one moment and then feeling afraid of him the next. It intersperses shots of the singer in heaven, reflecting on her life, as it leads up to a fatal crash which kills her.
- "Blue Jeans" involves a couple kissing in a swimming pool, before the man pulls Lana down with him to drown her at the very end.
- "Summertime Sadness" features a lesbian couple, which culminates in Lana committing suicide at the very end.
- "National Anthem" has Lana as the First Lady to a black president in a 1960s-era United States, with shots of the two partying and vacationing with their children. It culminates in the president's assassination.
- "Ride" seems to consist of Lana as a stripper falling in with various men and travelling the country.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: "Burning Desire":"I drive fast, radio blast
Have to touch myself to pretend you're there
- Despair Event Horizon: "Dark Paradise" and "Summertime Sadness", both of which feature Lana committing suicide (literally so in the music video for the latter).
- Erotic Asphyxiation: The video for "Blue Jeans" features the man with his hand around her neck as he dunks her into the water.
- Ethereal Choir: "National Anthem", which features Lana as a Self-Backing Vocalist along with layers of her singing "Red! White! Blue!" as the song progresses.
- Expy: Lana presents herself as an expy to Lolita on (obviously) "Lolita", "Off to the Races", and "Carmen" (one of Humbert Humbert's nicknames for the girl).
- "Off to the Races" even samples the first line from the novel: "Lolita: light of my life, fire of my loins."
- Face on the Cover: A close-up of her face.
- The Ingenue: Portrays herself as this in "National Anthem", with "He says to be cool but, I don't know how yet".
- Insistent Terminology: Lana often emphasizes that her stuff is mainly "Hollywood sadcore", eschewing labels such as "indie" or even "pop".
- Love Nostalgia Song: "This Is What Makes Us Girls":This is what makes us girls
We don't stick together cause we put love first
Don't cry about him
Don't cry about him
It's all gonna happen
- Nostalgia Filter: Her tendency to romanticize the The '60s can be seen as this.
- Obsession Song: Pretty much everything, to varying degrees. "Blue Jeans" relies on cliches to show the narrator's hopeless love, while "Diet Mountain Dew" is just an infatuation with New York City lights and having sex in varying cars.
- One-Word Title: "Radio", "Carmen", "Lolita", "Ride", "American", "Cola", and "Yayo".
- Precision F-Strike: On "Radio":Now my life is sweet like cinnamon
Like a fucking dream I'm livin' in...
- Product Placement: "Diet Mountain Dew" and "Cola".
- Romanticized Abuse: A lot of her songs mainly draw criticism for this. She shows her characters as really servile and hopeless and abused, such as in "Born to Die", where she's treated like a young girl.
- Silly Love Songs: "Lucky Ones":Every now and then the stars align
Boy and girl meet by the great design
Could it be that you and me are the lucky ones?
- Subdued Section: "Diet Mountain Dew", which stands out from most of her songs by being more upbeat, has a softer, slower section near the middle.
- Take That, Critics!: "Radio", which can also be seen as self-deprecating since her songs are more considerably more mainstream than before.
- Title Track: "Born to Die".
- Trashy Trailer Home: "Yayo" has her begging a possibly abusive partner to "take me right down / From this dark trailer park."
- Word Salad Lyrics: "National Anthem", which has "Tell me I'm your National Anthem".