By: Annie Egan (ig: @egan.nie) Lana Del Rey, or Elizabeth Grant, is arguably the “it girl” of a generation. Preteen girls found comfort and relatability in her debut album “Born To Die” released in 2012 which was soon followed by “Paradise”, since then, Lana Del Rey has released six studio albums, and recently released her ninth album titled “Did You Know There Was A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” on Friday, March 24. Like many of her other albums, “Did You Know There Was A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd '' carries tones of melancholy and old americana. This album heavily features themes of death and memories, religion, family, and growth.
Track 1: The Grants Titled after Lana’s family name, this song opens with sounds similar to gospel singers, with tight harmonies and soulful voices. She sings of how a pastor tells her of how after death, the only thing we take with us are our memories. This serves as a powerful precursor to the rest of the album as she sings of both positive, and negative memories. One thing that has remained rampant through all of Lana’s albums, is her view on the female experience. Towards the end of this track, she mentions her favorite memories that she hopes to carry with her in the afterlife, one being her sister’s child, and her grandmother’s final smile. Growing up, Lana Del Rey was raised Catholic, which will become more obvious as this album progresses and her unstable faith becomes a topic in multiple songs. Lana is stating that regardless of which religion is ‘true’ that “It’s a Beautiful Life”.
Track 2: Did you know there’s a tunnel under ocean blvd
The singer describes a once, beautiful tunnel that runs underneath Ocean Blvd in Long Beach, California, which was closed to the general public in the late 1960’s. Since then, it has faded into obscurity. Lana uses this tunnel as a metaphor for herself. She fears that since she has aged out of an era where she was an object of lust from the viewpoint of the male gaze, that she too, will fade into obscurity. “love me until I love myself”, This lyric is portraying that self acceptance cannot exist without approval from others, which the singer recognizes is an oxymoron. This song serves simply as a plea to listeners to not forget the singer despite the fact that she may not be the person she once was. This remains relatable to many “born to die”-hard LDR fans as they have grown up with her music and find themselves in the same troubled young adult-hood that Lana has experienced. The song closes out with the same gospel vocals from track 1 that will lead us into the solemn track 3.
Track 3: Sweet This song hits hard for me because Lana is recognizing her humanity. She claims that she “is a different kind of woman”. She knows that many men in her life want her simply as an object. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album since it feels very calm and romantic, although it carries her anxieties of how she does not fit into the conventional standard of women that her 1950’s americana aesthetic suggests. “Do you contemplate where we came from?” Once again, Lana expresses her philosophical questions of religion and the after-life.
Track 4: A&W (Strong trigger warning for sexual assault.) The title alone carries multiple meanings, A&W is a popular root-beer brand, synonymous to the era of soda shops and sock hops that this new LDR era embraces. A&W is also a popular american fast food chain, often times a drive-through, which is also a term used for women who sleep around a lot, this fits with the theme of the song as Lana reveals A&W is meant to represent her status as an “American Whore”. She opens the song speaking about her loss of innocence and how she has felt objectified from a young age. “It's not about havin' someone to love me anymorе This is the experiеnce of bein' an American whore” Lana sings about the common female experience of wanting to feel wanted. She feels that because of how she looks, she is automatically going to be an “American Whore” when in reality she wants to be loved.
“If I told you that I was raped Do you really think that anybody would think I didn't ask for it? I didn't ask for it I won't testify, I already fucked up my story” Lana sings that since she has had many consensual sexual relationships, she fears that if she were to testify against the one that was not consensual, she would not be believed since she has already been labeled as an “American Whore” “God's a charlatan, don't look back, babe” Once again we see Lana’s loss of faith as she ages, she struggles with her religion because she cannot understand how a God who is “Good” can allow bad things, like this, to happen. About halfway through this track, the direction shifts completely, from a slow track, to one that can be compared to the more “hip-hop” style of some of her earlier music. This can be attributed to Lana’s desire to feel the way she did when she was younger. The remainder of the song surrounds the line “Jimmy, Jimmy Coco puff, Jimmy get me high” a play on an old song “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko Ko Bop” by Little Anthony & The Imperials. This tune was an old Do-Wop that fits with this albums aesthetic. Jimmy, being the name of a man she has a relationship with, and a Coco Puff is referring to slang that is used to describe a way on ingesting cocaine. Lana uses drugs as a metaphor for herself. Like drugs, people only want her for a short period of time, and once that ‘high’ fades they discard her.
Track 5: Judah Smith Interlude Although this track is not one I will be putting on my personal playlist, it serves the album as a whole quite well. It is about five minutes of mega-church pastor and christian influencer Judah Smith (@judahsmith) as he gives a sermon. It seems as though Lana is recording this sermon from a recording device like her phone while an appropriately melancholic piano track plays underneath. We can often hear Lana giggling at the remarks made by Smith. Smith has been criticized for his homophobic remarks and using his religion as more of an instagrammable cash grab than a spiritual journey. Following A&W this track uses Smith’s preachings against him as it points to the selfishness of man. “I used to think my preaching was mostly about You And you're not gonna like this, but I'm gonna to tell you the truth I've discovered my preaching is mostly about me”
Track 6: Candy Necklace (Featuring Jon Batiste) (Trigger Warning: Suicide) A candy necklace is traditionally known as a necklace with candy beads for children, that once finished is a gross piece of slobbery string. Lana recognizes that her lover gives her small pieces of affection and attention, like a candy necklace, but that he may not truly care for her the same way she cares for him. She knows that he sees their relationship as fun and reckless while she recognizes that this is not a sustainable way to live. She cannot live on ‘candy necklaces’ alone despite how much she may want to. She knows that the drive for his affection is bringing her down since his superficial acts of love are never as satisfying as she hopes. Part way through the song she realizes that this relationship may be the reason she is feeling so depressed, although she does not want this to be true. “Sittin' on the sofa, feelin' supеr suicidal” This line is in reference to the Marina and The Diamonds track “Teen Idle” which carries similar themes of superficiality, religion, and youth. The song closes out with the deep voice of
Jon Batiste who simply sings “Candy Necklaces” repeatedly. His dark tone portrays the depression Lana feels from this relationship and her fear of leaving.
Track 7: Jon Batiste Interlude There is not much I can say about this track. It is simply meant to represent the good parts of any relationship that make it hard to leave when the bad parts get worse. It appears as though the vocals on this track may have been pulled from the recording session of “Candy Necklace” when Lana and Jon were having fun and laughing in the studio. The piano underneath feels nostalgic, as though it were someone looking back on their fond memories of a relationship.
Track 8: Kintsugi The title is referring to the Japanese art of breaking pottery and mending it back together with gold or silver. Lana sings of many family deaths she has experienced and how, although sad, they have to happen so that she feels her pain and appreciates her life more. At its core, this song is about how we, as humans, have to experience pain so that we can experience happiness. With Harrowing vocals from LDR, she recognizes her desire to escape and ignore her pain, while simultaneously recognizing it is unhealthy. “like cracking, the light gets in”
Track 9: Fingertips (Trigger warning: Suicide) This song is about Lana’s fear of dying with regrets. She cherishes her family and she fears as though she is not fit to accomplish all the things she wants to. “Charlie, stop smoking Caroline, will you be with me? Will the baby be alright? Will I have one of mine? Can I handle it even if I do? It's said that my mind Is not fit, or so they said, to carry a child I guess I'll be fine” In this verse, she imagines what will happen when she dies. She worries that her psychological problems will deter her from her having children and that will remain a constant regret in her life. She recounts the death of her Uncle Dave , who killed himself in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Lana had to move on and perform after the passing of her Uncle. She also reminisces on her childhood crush , who would later die in a car accident. Twice in the song, LDR uses the line “I give myself two seconds to cry” to portray how strange it feels to her, that people are able to move on from death so quickly, for her, all the deaths in her life have felt extremely shocking.
Track 10: Paris, Texas (Featuring SYML) Lana describes her escape to Paris, Texas. She whispers “Texas” as she knows it's not as romantic and beautiful and the Paris we all associate with the name. Lana also mentions similar cities, Florence, Alabama, and Venice, California, fitting with the Americana theme of the album. This track portrays Lana’s desire for escape from her life, but as she escapes to similar rural towns with romanticized names, she realizes there is no escaping the life she was handed, no matter where she is.
Track 11: Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep sea fishing (Featuring RIOPY) This track serves as a symbol of transformation, as butterflies are a frequently used metaphor here. Lana recounts her journey with her sense of self and many speculations regarding whether or not she was an industry plant. She begs the audience to recognize her humanity and also begs a higher power to send her some sort of sign that she is on the right path and that she will be ok. The track features a enchanting melody and melancholy piano that really drives home the anxiety Lana has about life and death.
Track 12: Let the Light in (Featuring Father John Misty) This song truly represents the genius lyricist that LDR is. She references track 8, Kintsugi, where if we embrace what makes us broken, we can live to accept who we are and what we have become. Over the course of this album, Lana shows transformation, this song is to show this transformation is extremely beneficial to her wellbeing.
Track 13: Margaret (Featuring Bleachers) This track was written by Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff, and is titled after Antonoff’s fiancee. Before this track, we are introduced to Lana’s fear of aging and death, but here she recognizes things that have gained value with age, like certain jewelry and the old Hollywood glamor that many of her era’s have embraced. She theorizes that she too, will gain value with age.
Track 14: Fishtail Fishtail, at its core, represents inconsistent love. Similarly to Candy Necklace, Lana describes how depressed these relationships can make her, but yet she thrives on these tiny pieces of approval.
“You wanted me sadder” This relationship thrives on Lana’s lack of self confidence. She knows that they work only because she is so hungry for these small moments of love. “Maybe i’ll take my glasses off so I stop painting red flags green” For Lana, this relationship is a guilty pleasure, she will do anything to excuse the abuse so she can stay in this relationship.
Track 15: Peppers (Featuring Tommy Genesis) Essentially, this song is about Lana owning her sexuality. She is so in love with this person that she is reckless with how they love. At the current moment, she does not care about the repercussions of their actions because she is so clouded by the love. At the end of the track, Lana mentions and partially samples “Wipeout” by the Sufaris, this alongside the sample from “Angelina” by Tommy Genesis represents the fun and carelessness of this relationship.
Track 16: Taco Truck X VB The first section of this song or “Taco Truck” is a response to the media which has been very critical of LDR throughout her career. She claims that she doesn’t care but also gets frustrated when they twist her words or misinterpret her. The second section, VB, is a different draft of another LDR track from another album “Norman F*****g Rockwell” This version is not as soft as the previously released track. It’s easy to assume she is singing about a romantic relationship in this version, but I believe she is referring to her younger self, the version of herself in “Norman F*****g Rockwell”. Lana chooses to close the album with this track due to its nostalgia and themes of growth and youth.
Album Rating: 8/10 Favorite Track: A&W Least Favorite Track: Judah Smith Interlude Most Underrated Track: Grandfather Please Stand on the Shoulders of my Father While He’s Deep Sea Fishing Track to Dance to: Peppers Track to Cry to: Fingertips