‘Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd’ artistically portrays growing older

Lana Del Rey’s ninth studio album blends adulthood and childhood

Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd artistically portrays growing older

Aashi Venkat

“Don’t forget me / Like the tunnel under Ocean Boulevard” 

Contrasting innocence with sexual violence and substance abuse, indie rock artist Lana Del Rey’s ninth album “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” released on Friday, March 24, with 16 tracks. The album’s lead single, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd,” represents the entire album, by metaphorically comparing Del Rey to the often-forgotten tunnel under Ocean Blvd. The track has the singer reflecting on her internal feeling of invisibility, which translates into her begging a lover to sexually validate, making her feel visible and loved again. Following tracks also center around the desire for validation to feel complete, making the metaphor of the tunnel under Ocean Blvd essential to the album. The track prepares audiences for the album’s content with the lyrics “Love me until I love myself” and the outro repeating “Don’t forget me / Like the tunnel under Ocean Boulevard.” The piano chords start soft and high, growing louder and deeper as the song progresses into its chorus and ending with strong chords accentuating the track’s outro. This mixes well with the track’s harmonic synths, elevating the production to sound eerily beautiful, a feeling that perfectly complements Del Rey’s powerful vocals.

Lyrics in the second track, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd.” (Aashi Venkat)

“A&W” extends on the same desire for validation introduced on the lead track while juxtaposing the theme with innocence. The first half reflects Del Rey’s loss of innocence and learned realization of the world’s evils, whereas the second half flows angrily, contrasting the former’s sad and reminiscent tone. The track flawlessly serves as an elaboration of the lead single. It is filled with powerful nuances — lyrical double meanings, hidden metaphors and sudden shifts in emotion — all of which convey the track’s messages on sexual objectification and loss of childhood in an impactful way. The remainder of the album takes the themes referred to in “A&W” and expands on them, making “A&W” the album’s foundation.

However, “Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing (feat. RIOPY)” contrasts with the album’s themes of internally-believed invisibility. The lyricism uses imagery of her grandfather and her father on a boat overlooking a body of water, reflecting how she is the result of the two of them. While the lyrics of the track are filled with subtle references to the singer’s past, the track’s production brings it to life. Synths crescendo towards the chorus and into the bridge, and although this makes the lyrics harder to understand in these regions, the sounds amplify Del Rey during quieter parts of the song. Hence the lines “It took somebody else to make me beautiful, wonderful / As they intended me to be / But they’re wrong” are intentionally the clearest in the track. This track is one of the only songs highlighting Del Rey’s identity, with the other being “The Grants,” which is a break from the singer’s believed invisibility throughout the album. 

The album also experiments with artistic styles that are relatively foreign to Del Rey’s discography, incorporating lively synths and musical sampling, and “Peppers (feat. Tommy Genesis)” is a specific song that does so. The track shares the singer’s experience of being sexualized, though the track is upbeat and catchy. Del Rey’s playful tone complements the bubbly, staccato synths in the background. Although sampling Tommy Genesis’ 2015-release “Angelina,” the track does not feature additional vocals by Genesis. However, Del Rey’s inclusion of Genesis in this track offers diversity to the album, giving it a quirky edge. 

Repeated lyrics from “Peppers (feat. Tommy Genesis)” (Aashi Venkat)

Although the album shines in terms of its production, lyricism and vocals on a track-by-track basis, it takes a few listens to fully appreciate. Like most of Del Rey’s past work, the slow nature of the album overshadows its artistic splendor. Additionally, the two interludes on the album are long enough to be standalone tracks. Their sheer length no longer serves as a short break from the album and instead becomes boring after the first two minutes, easily making listeners lose interest. However, if listeners can look past the initial slowness, the subtle artistic nuances make themselves overt, making the effort worthwhile. 

Del Rey is famous for producing darker, more angsty music, and “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” does not disappoint. Each track is raw and beautiful, while they still tie into the album’s overall story, allowing the album to be cohesive while the tracks shine independently.