Lana Del Rey’s 2023 album, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, is the album that finally launched the American singer-songwriter back into mainstream media. 

Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, which I will call Ocean Blvd for the sake of space, is Del Rey’s ninth album. Her two prior albums, Chemtrails Over The Country Club and Blue Banisters, were released during COVID and failed to achieve the same level of acclaim as her previous albums had. However, Ocean Blvd changed that. 

(Photo courtesy of Lana Del Rey’s @honeymoon Instagram)

The album was recently nominated for five Grammys. Although it unfortunately lost all of them, it received the most number of nominations that Del Rey has ever accrued for an album. Personally, I truly believe that Ocean Blvd should have won at least one Grammy—the continuous snubs that her artwork gets are absolutely ridiculous.

At first listen, Ocean Blvd was not my favorite album of hers, mostly because I didn’t understand it. The lyrics were pretty confusing at points, which was particularly prominent in her song, “Grandfather Please Stand On The Shoulders Of My Father While He’s Deep Sea Fishing.” That is a whole lot of words, which I would never expect to hear in a song. To be honest, I have been listening to the album for a year and I still have no idea what that means. 

One of her other songs is called “Taco Truck X VB,” where one of the lyrics is, “Pass me my vape, I’m feeling sick, I need to take a puff.” Lyrics like that make the album look like a social experiment but trust me—the rest of the album is a masterpiece.

Its themes and lyrical preoccupations are philosophical and weighty: the existence of God; the afterlife; the precise moment the soul leaves the body; the concessions of marriage and motherhood; fate; familial bonds; and, on the strikingly melancholy centerpiece “Fingertips,” recent scientific progress into the attainment of eternal life.

The New York Times

Songs like “Margaret” and “Let The Light In” are overshadowed by the quirky, weird lyrics in other songs. However, these songs are some of the best in the album and I would argue her entire discography. She goes back to her roots with these songs, but also takes a softer tone with them, like in her songs “Honeymoon” and ‘Video Games.” The messages of these songs are easier to understand and her voice shines through.

While those two songs stand out, a majority of the album sounds like traditional Lana, very slow, melodramatic and almost angel-like. But this album also seemed like a huge leap for her in terms of the themes of the songs. 

The New York Times put it perfectly: “Its themes and lyrical preoccupations are philosophical and weighty: the existence of God; the afterlife; the precise moment the soul leaves the body; the concessions of marriage and motherhood; fate; familial bonds; and, on the strikingly melancholy centerpiece “Fingertips,” recent scientific progress into the attainment of eternal life.”

This album is particularly beautiful if you know Del Rey’s story. The themes of death in Ocean Blvd can be connected back to her 2014 interview where she expressed suicidal ideation. There is a clear growth in her views of death and how she has grown to appreciate her life from 2014. Knowing her story makes this album considerably more emotional and thought provoking. 

Overall, this album is not for everyone, but that has been true of  Del Rey’s work since the beginning. For those who are fans of hers, or fans of slower, alternative music, this album is a great and extremely emotional listen. I would recommend it any day! 

By Liz Morin

English (Creative Writing) and Digital Journalism || Politics Minor

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