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A Review of Lana Del Rey’s Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd


On March 24, Lana Del Rey released her ninth studio album, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. Having listened to the singles for the album — the title track, “The Grants,” and “A&W” — I was unsure what to expect from the album, as the feel and sound of these songs were very different from one another. I was not disappointed though; the beauty, complexity, imperfection, and vulnerable themes and messages conveyed through her songs make the album stand out as a thought-provoking piece that manages to stay true to Del Rey’s essence and past work. Together, the songs paint a portrait of Del Rey’s life and highlight how she has grown as an artist. 

Del Rey showcased her artistry by making an album that is complex and varied, yet also thematically unified. The album includes many different musical genres and sounds, with elements of pop, hip-hop, gospel, and folk music. Some of her songs have an electronic and heavily produced sound, while others are extremely stripped back, sometimes only accompanied by piano. The album places emphasis on Del Rey’s voice, often putting her raw vocals at the forefront of the track and sometimes manipulating her voice into a distant, dreamlike echo that fades into the music. Some songs are very slow-paced and sad, while others have a more carefree, upbeat feel.

The album features artists like Father John Misty, Jon Batiste, and Bleachers (the stage name for Jack Antonoff, a collaborator on many of her previous albums). The featured artists perfectly complement the feel of their songs. Jon Batiste, for instance, was featured in a beautiful interlude in which he and Del Rey have a conversation, improvise music, and laugh in the background of the track, showcasing their artistic process as well as the passion they have for making music. 

The album is also rife with musical references to her older music, as Del Rey reuses melodies from past songs and references older lyrics and song titles. Her song “Taco Truck x VB” ends with a remixed version of an older song titled “Venice B****”, and the song “Candy Necklaces” features lyrics from her previously released “Cinnamon Girl.” These references feel like an exploration and reinvention of her past self. 

Another special quality of this album is its intentional imperfection; Del Rey’s vocals do not sound perfect the whole time, but the cracks in her voice convey her raw emotion, and the piano accompaniment of “Candy Necklaces” is out of rhythm to convey Del Rey’s emotional instability. “The Grants” starts with a choir rehearsal, and this unfinished feel might serve as Del Rey’s acknowledgment of her life and artistic journey being a work in progress. The sporadic, unrefined qualities in many of her songs doesn’t feel accidental, but purposeful in their inconsistencies, as they make the album more dynamic and thought-provoking. 

Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd explores various personal themes that make up a broader picture of Del Rey’s current life. In an interview with Billboard, Del Rey explained how she began to explore these themes on her previous album Blue Banisters, but wanted to go further, expressing that “At first I was so uncomfortable, then, by the grace of God, I just felt completely unburdened.” By overcoming this discomfort, Del Rey was able to create raw, personal, and self-introspective songs. One defining theme of the album is Del Rey’s relationship with her family members. The first song on the album, titled “The Grants,” references her family name. Del Rey talks about her love for her family while also addressing a person who wants to start a family with her. In the song “Fingertips,” Del Rey voices her hopes, dreams, and fears concerning motherhood. Del Rey also sings about romantic love in songs like “Let The Light In” and “Peppers.” In the former song, featuring Father John Misty, Del Rey sings about opening up to her lover in a secret relationship, and the latter song is about the reckless devotion she has for her lover. 

In the title track, Del Rey expresses her desire to be truly loved for who she is. The title refers to the now-hidden Jergins Tunnel under Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, with its “handmade beauty sealed up by two man-made walls” representing Del Rey’s true self and personality being unseen by the people she dates. The final song on the album, “Taco Truck x VB,” references the media’s scrutiny of Del Rey with the line “Print it into black and white pages, don’t faze me, before you talk, let me stop what you’re saying, I know, I know, I know that you hate me”. Del Rey leans into her controversies and accepts that she will be hated, and chooses to live freely without the weight of others’ judgment.

Students at Friends had mixed feelings about the album. Sophia Morrison ‘24 appreciated the album’s variation, saying, “I like that even though this album had a mellow vibe, still a lot of the songs were different.” Abigail Tusk ‘24, on the other hand, thought it was weaker than Del Rey’s previous works, explaining, “I really liked the lyricism and I really liked the production, but I don’t think it’s musically as strong.” Generally, fans and critics have received this album very positively, appreciating Del Rey’s vulnerability as well as the beauty of the songs. Commercially, the album did not disappoint, debuting at number one in the UK and number three on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States. 

Del Rey explained in an interview with Billboard how her artistic process has changed over time, saying that “11 years ago I wanted it to be so good. Now, I just sing exactly what I’m thinking. I’m thinking a little less big and bombastic. Maybe at some point I can have fun creating a world again, but right now, I would say there’s no world building. This music is about thought processing. It’s very, very wordy. I’m definitely living from the neck up.Unlike her previous work, which is more curated and interested in capturing an aesthetic, her new album feels more varied, experimental, and honest, while maintaining its beauty and listenability. This openness shows how Del Rey has matured and grown as an artist, and allows us to see the woman behind the persona of Lana Del Rey: Elizabeth Grant. 



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