Lana Del Rey – Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd

Review by Lindsay Carson

I do not miss High School in the slightest, but I will say, I wouldn’t mind hearing a Lana Del Rey song for the first time again. For me, it wasn’t when Young and Beautiful played during the end credits of the Leonardo Dicaprio The Great Gatsby film, or when Summertime Sadness was played repeatedly on the radio. It was in school, when a classmate asked me if I had ever heard of a song called Gods and Monsters by Lana Del Rey. When I said no, she played it for me, and I was forever hooked on that ethereal alt-pop sound.

So, when Del Rey announced the release of her 10th studio album: Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd, I knew I had to review it.

The Grants: Right off the bat, this song hits you with a soulful sound. The opening seems to be a small group of women, harmonizing as they repeat the lyrics “I’m gonna take mine of you with me,” before a piano fades in. The song is slow, and calm, but with the existential lyrics Lana loves to hit people with. This song is depressing, yet beautiful, with some lyrics that seem to be a memorial to the singer’s family members who have passed. I think it’s a song that people may turn on when they’ve experienced a loss and need music to go along with their grief. Art is known to get people through hard times, and the more we have of that, the better. So, I like this song solely because I know it will help people feel less alone when experiencing grief.

Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd: Two songs in, it’s obvious that Lana is staying true to herself and her unique song on this album. The slow music, the airy tones to her voice, everything she is known for is all there. She also continues to write depressing lyrics, but ones that people may relate to. Even when the songs seem really dark on the surface, their underlying message is usually quite relatable. To me, this song seems like it’s just about being sad and lonely, and being scared that you’ll always feel that way. She sings “Don’t forget me
Like the tunnel under Ocean Boulevard,” both expressing her desire to not be left behind and forgotten, and letting us know where the album name comes from. I find myself gravitating towards happier songs these days, but I still enjoyed this one.

Sweet: First of all, there’s something about the simplicity of the name of this song that I just adore. Second of all, I love Lana’s voice on this song. Sometimes, the singer will sing in her head voice and it’s just so beautiful. In this song, Lana seems to be telling a potential partner what kind of woman she is. She’s explaining what they’re going to get with her. She then proceeds to ask the person what kind of person they are. It sounds like a first date song, in all honesty. All in all, it’s a really pretty song I will likely be listening to often.

A & W: So Lana must like soft drinks or something because one of the first songs I ever heard of hers was called Pepsi Cola, and now she has this song. She has a shtick and she shticks to it (ba dum tis). Anyway, this song starts off with a folky guitar riff, which I haven’t heard much of on her previous songs. This is Del Rey’s ‘I don’t care’ song. She doesn’t care what people think. She lies sometimes, she does things that are frowned upon, she just does what she wants. She’s given up doing what people want her to do or think she should. It also changes into an electronic dance beat halfway through before scatting then repeating some of the lyrics in a more vulgar way. Honestly, I had fun listening to it.
Judah Smith Interlude: This was a spoken word interlude from someone preaching. It was very interesting, and I’m sure a lot of people will find comfort in it. It’s not something I personally am going to go back to and listen to again, but what I like about music is the ability to experiment with it. I’m glad Del Rey felt like she could do that on this album.

Candy Necklace: This song is just so pretty. I believe it’s in a minor key for at least a portion of the song, which is interesting because the lyrics aren’t her most downhearted lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, they’re sad, but not the saddest she’s written. Yes, it’s about a love she feels so deeply, she’s obsessed with it. But she knows it won’t end well. Possibly because of how obsessed with it she is. I really loved this song musically. The way the piano speeds up and slows down at times is very unique, but stunning. I know I’ll listen to this song many times for the piano part alone.

Jon Batiste Interlude: This song has more of that piano magic I love so much, with drums that sound like they may be bongos. It’s a spoken word again, with a very soulful sound. There is a little bit of singing, as if it’s two people in a room and one of them is singing a song they’re writing. It gives the vibes of, you’re sitting in a room listening to instrumental music and two people are having a lively conversation in the room next door. I found it to be both beautiful and mysterious.

Kintsugi: From what I understand, Kintsugi is a Japanese art where they put broken pottery back together using gold. This is a very slow, quiet song that is as sad, maybe even more sad than the others. I believe this song is about Lana mourning the loss of a family member. It seems the grief was all consuming, and it cracked her open. It’s slightly hopeful with the lyrics “that’s how the light gets in, then you’re golden.” It’s one of those songs that you listen to and you just cry. I’m sure it’ll be very cathartic for many people. For me, it was very musically pleasing, and lyrically moving.

Fingertips: Well this song is just extremely existential. It seems like Lana is talking about everything and anything in this song. She sings about hard things she’s experienced, worries she has for the future, and more. She is very open and vulnerable in this song and I commend her for that because it’s a difficult thing to do. Musically, it doesn’t follow any typical song format. It doesn’t have any choruses and bridges, it’s just nine verses. I absolutely love the uniqueness of it, even though I cannot pinpoint what exactly it’s about.

Paris, Texas: This song just makes me think about how many American cities are named after European cities. Especially since she mentions Florence, Alabama as well as Venice, California. Anyway, this song has a very delicate melody and it seems to be about traveling until you find where you belong. She sings lyrics like “when you know, you know,” and “when you’re home, you’re home. However, when she sings “when you’re home, you’re home,” there’s also an echo of her singing “Venice, California,” so it seems she found her home in that city. I found this song to be very calming and can see myself listening to it when I’m trying to relax.

Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing: And I thought Fall Out Boy had long song titles. Anyway, Lana is asking for a sign during this song, either from a higher being or her grandfather. It has some heart wrenching lyrics but, what’s interesting, is the inspirational tone to the music. It’s one of those songs that can make you feel good as long as you don’t listen to the lyrics. If you need a good cry though, these lyrics are for you. I liked it musically, but I don’t need a song to cry to right now.

Let The Light In: This song is obviously about an on-again-off-again relationship with the lyrics “Look at us, you and I, back at it again.” It had a very slow melody that people can play in the background while they’re doing something else, or just sway in the kitchen to. I appreciate it for what it is both musically and lyrically, being quite pretty and telling a story of two complicated lovers.

Margaret: Lana wrote this song for a friend, and I know that because she starts it out by singing “this is a simple song, I’m gonna write it for a friend.” Also, Jack Antonoff sings a solo on this song and I was really excited about that because I don’t know if I’ve ever really heard him sing before. In all honesty, his voice sounded exactly like I expected it to. No I will not elaborate, instead I’ll talk more about the song itself. This song is really cute, having a message about being able to know when a person is the so-called ‘one.’ Antonoff sings lyrics like “if you’re asking yourself, “How do you know?” Then that’s your answer, the answer is “No”’ and Lana repeats a lyric she sang in another song “when you know, you know.” This was definitely my favorite song on the album, hands down.

Fishtail: So, when I saw the title of this song I immediately thought of fishtail braids and thought I was weird for that. It seems I was right on target though, because Lana starts this song by singing “don’t you dare say that you’ll braid my hair, babe.” Lana is also back at it with sad songs about unrequited love. I did enjoy this song musically though with its lo-fi beats and almost haunting tone.

Peppers: A lot of Lana Del Rey songs tend to be piano-centric. However, she had a couple on this album that were more guitar focused, with this being one of them. On top of the guitar, it had some electronic dance beats and I haven’t heard that kind of stuff from Lana in a long time. This song is about Lana losing all of her worries and throwing “caution to the wind,” because she’s in love. It’s got a really funky beat with some wild lyrics. All in all, I found its vibrancy to be really fun.

Taco Truck x VB: Right off the bat, this song differs quite a lot from the previous one tone-wise. Although, it also starts with a guitar being strummed. Lana’s voice is absolutely beautiful in this song, bringing in her usual haunting tone that comes with the subtle vibrato of her head voice. This is a song that doesn’t have the A-B-A or other typical song formats. It’s another song about her boyfriend as well, and their wild, carefree life together. It changes into a more electronic dance-beat halfway through and I really enjoyed that. Overall, I like how unique this song is.

Something I repeated throughout this review is how unique the songs seem to be. They often completely differ, not only from the music that’s most often played on the radio, but from other songs on the album. Even if Lana’s music isn’t for you, I think the eccentricness of her artistry is admirable. It’s one of those things that’s going to be talked about years from now. As for this album alone, if I need some chill music to play in the background while I’m working, it will likely be one of my go-tos.

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