DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry One Hundred Sixty-Three.
Wednesday, 2013.01.02, 12:09 PM CST.

My pick for album of the year 2012...
Current Mood:  Cautiously optimistic.
Current Scent:  Catalyst by Halston.

To be frank, I was sick of 2012.  It wasn't a great year for me, actually... but I won't sit here and whine about the details right now.

So, happy new year, everybody.  2013 had better be better.  I know I'm probably going to be under a surgeon's scalpel sometime early this year, and that'll be a hoot.  (To satiate your curiosity, it'll be a fairly routine sinus-related surgery... but it will potentially change my life for the better.  I might also get my nose changed to match that of Jennifer Love Hewitt, but probably not.)

I want this year to be SO MUCH better than last year.  I've got some obstacles to face, some of which I can't discuss here, but I'm going to do my best to tackle them and move ahead.

My main new year's resolution is this:  I resolve to do more DJ performances this year than I have for the last few years.  Aside from my family, friends, and God, there are few things that I love more than DJing.  It has been a passion of mine for almost a quarter of a century.

I'm going to get out there and DJ more often.  Not ALL the time; I still need time to dedicate to my family and my "day job."  However, I'm not getting any younger.  I want to get a lot more gigs in before I finally shuffle off this mortal coil.

Anyway...  Here's my choice for album of the year, 2012.  It'll shock some of you, I'm quite sure.


"Born To Die" cover.On January 1st of this year, I was checking out YouTube videos and I happened upon a link to a video for a new song called "Born To Die" by an unfamiliar artist named Lana Del Rey.  The stillframe for the video made her look a bit like Kristen Bauer Van Straten from TV's True Blood, which certainly didn't hurt.

So, I clicked on the video, and I was treated to a shockingly good song.

The video was a bit cheesy overall (in a bit of a dark/grindhousey kind of way), but that song immediately got stuck in my head.  It wasn't like any other pop track that I'd heard in a while; I really dug the swelling classical strings, and her voice - a little nasally, a little gravelly, but really nice - was definitely not what was commonly being churned out of the world of pop music these days.

I quickly tracked down the videos for "Blue Jeans" and "Video Games," loving them both ("Video Games" moved me to tears the first time I saw it), and I knew I would be purchasing the full Born To Die album as soon as it was released.  I did a bit more research on Del Rey; it surprised me that she was in her mid-20s (she looked older in the "Born To Die" video), and I found it amusing that she described herself as a "gangsta Nancy Sinatra."  Indeed, after reading that, I realized that her musical style was a bit like that of Nancy Sinatra - far from perfect, but appealing.  There was a somewhat nostalgic note to her voice and her presentation - a bit trashy, but not over-the-top campy.

The album was released at the end of January, and I was very impressed.  Some of the songs were, from a lyrical standpoint, absolute crap - "National Anthem," for instance - but made up for it by being insanely catchy.  Others were great lyrically and musically, like the super-addictive "Radio," "Dark Paradise," and my personal favourite on the album, "Summertime Sadness."  There were two real "dog tracks" on the album:  the dreary "Carmen" and the dreadfully boring "Million Dollar Man."  However, the good outweighed the bad in a big way.

Del Rey caught some flak from critics after two absolutely terrible live performances on "Saturday Night Live" - seriously awful stuff there.  Other clips of her live performances have been pretty tragic as well.  She also had a lot of detractors who said that her music career had been funded by her excessively wealthy father (an accusation she has denied).

Despite all of that, I thought the album was great.  Was she just better in the studio?  Did it take a massive production effort to make her sound so good on the official recordings?  Whoever was responsible - Del Rey herself and/or her production team - the work paid off.

It will likely be a controversial decision, but there you go:  Born To Die is my album of the year for 2012.

More soon!