Review: Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd/Lana Del Rey

It comes to no surprise that Elizabeth Grant’s, better known as Lana Del Rey, ninth studio album Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd was awaited with eagerness by old and new fans of her work. Throughout her time in the music industry, her discography has showcased her ability to describe any and every feeling you might have in the form of a song. In the 78 minute album released on March 24th, 2023, she chooses the route of every song taking you on an individual journey, which the listener can each interpet in their own way. The following is ours. 

Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd consists of 16 tracks. We decided to join in a review to allow for multiple perspectives. 

For the first three tracks we broke down, we had agreed that they belonged in our top 5 songs of the album. We then both chose the remainder of our top 5 that didn’t correlate and broke them down individually. The last songs in the album review are a set of interludes that changed the tone of the album into the religious aspect, which we both agreed added an odd tone. 

The Grants: The Grants is the first track of the album. Its name is taken from Del Rey’s family name. In this song she talks about the life, death and memories she cherishes.

Lucy Cruz: The opening track “The Grants” begins with background vocalists and then transitions to Del Rey. “The Grants” is about death and what she will take with her once she goes to heaven. You can see the foreshadowing of what the song will be about based on the use of her family name. In the song, Del Rey says her pastor told her “When you leave all you will take is your memories.” Towards the end of the song she sings “A sister’s first born child, I’m gonna take that too with me, My grandmother’s last smile, I’m gonna take that too with me.” I felt the song was very sentimental as Del Rey was singing about taking her family’s memories as she goes to heaven. It was an interesting ballad and easily one of my favorites from the album.

Jessica Hernandez: In my interpretation of The Grants, we are met with Lana questioning what will happen following her death, and everything her soul will take with her. She mentions taking her “grandmother’s last smile”, and “sister’s first born child,” lyrics which came as a surprise to me considering it is not a common occurrence for her to talk about her family in her music. Leaning into her romantic relationship and giving a similar feeling to most of her music, the line “My pastor told me when you leave, all you take is your memory… and I’m gonna take mine of you with me.” This line instantly gave a nostalgic connection to her “Dear Lord, when I get to heaven, Please let me bring my man” lyric from her single “Young and Beautiful,” both containing the idea of continuing their infatuation for each other in another lifetime. From the clear setting being heaven and the reference to her pastor’s words, we can infer that the album will have a religious tone, with a new found feeling of hope that isn’t seen in a younger and less faithful Lana. 

A&W: The fourth track is the longest in the album. A&W is an abbreviation of “American Whore.” This phrase has been associated with how Del Rey is perceived. In the song she takes the power of the name back along with telling her own teenage life story. 

LC: A&W started off melodic and harmonic, but then transitioned to a trap beat. It was excellently made as I did not expect the full turn in music. I can’t imagine the song without the twist, which is what made it so good. The second verse, “I’m a princess, I’m divisive, ask me why, why, why I’m like this,” is my favorite part of the song. I especially liked the way her voice changed to a questioning/whiny tone.The song is about how she is perceived as a whore by the public. The lyric, “Do you really think I give a damn what I do? After years of hearing them talking?” shows how the public has already formed an opinion on who she is as a person however she does not care to redeem herself. Instead she reclaims her identity and embraces the phrase given upon her. The song has a very deep meaning that’s really shown in the third verse. The most moving lyric in my opinion was, “If I told you that I was raped, do you really think that anybody would think that I didn’t ask for it? I won’t testify, I already f****d up my story.” I found this verse so heartbreaking since it shows that the phrase will follow her everywhere. The second part of the song in which it transitions into a trap beat contrasts the seriousness of the previous verse since it is more upbeat.

JH: Lana is not new to being bashed by the media because of her choices of talking about taboo topics, such as the romanticization  of abusive relationships, openly talking about sex as a woman, and her flamboyant life as a teenager. In the fourth track, American Whore,  it starts off on a pretty mellow tone where she reflects on the way she perceives herself, which is in a pretty harsh light, contrasting from the beginning of the album. She describes her upbringing simply referring to her life as “the experience of being an American whore” which I assume comes with the fact that she believes she grew up too fast, which I pulled through her “I haven’t done a cartwheel since I was nine” which can be tied to memories of childhood. In her case, her teen years were a mix of using men to fill the void and insecurities, as she describes “I’m a princess, I’m divisive/ Ask me why, why, why I’m like this” where she acknowledges the fact that she is worth more than the way people perceive her. This also alludes to the idea that she knows the impression others have of her, “Jimmy only love me when he wanna get high” but ultimately she adds “It’s not about having someone to love me anymore” where we see that sex has turned meaningless to her, an allusion to prior song “F****d My Way Up To the Top” where she sings about her rise to the top while selling herself in return. 

Paris, Texas: Paris, Texas is the 10th track of the album. This song is about loss and Lana Del Rey finding herself. 

LC: Paris, Texas was my favorite song from the album. The song heavily reminded me of the movie Coraline despite having no connection to it. Paris, Texas was a soothing and relaxing song. The piano tied it together and made the song sound like a lovely lullaby. To me this song was about knowing what is right for you and trusting yourself. You can see this in the line, “I had to leave, knew they wouldn’t understand” which is then followed by “When you know, you know, it’s time, it’s time to go.” It showcases how she knows what’s right for her and does what she can to find herself. 

JH: This song to me was a symbolism of knowing when it is time to go, but holding on for as long as possible. In the track, Lana travels to Paris, a small Texan town, to discover the new version of herself. It is unknown what she is running away from, but it has clearly been weighing her down in a way that she can no longer ignore. She pursues the thought of discovering the better version of herself that doesn’t include those who were in her past. She sings “I had to leave, Knew they wouldn’t understand,” at the very beginning of the track, which leads me to assume that she did not feel supported which ultimately led to her decision to flee. 

Fishtails: Fishtails is about her love being taken for granted. This song is the 14th track in the album. 

LC: “Fishtails” was another personal and intimate song from this album. The song includes details of her relationship life. It’s good for ex breakups and reminiscing about old times. It appears that the person does not have Lana’s best interest in mind. She sings, “Don’t you dare say that you’ll braid my hair babe, if you don’t really care you wanted me sadder.” Hair braiding is often seen as an affectionate sign. Lana feels as if this person doesn’t care and wants her to get worse. The lyric, “I know that we’ve got problems I plan to address them another day,” signifies that she has knowledge of their problems but is choosing to avoid them. Then she sings “Maybe I’ll take my glasses off, so I stop painting red flags green.” To me this lyric meant that Del Rey doesn’t see the toxicness in a relationship because of her glasses. The glasses could be referring to rose colored glasses or her signature heart shaped glasses. She chooses to be optimistic and ignore the problems. Instead to see the good of the relationship. 

Sweet: Sweet is the track where Del Rey sings about staying true to herself despite her success and newfound lifestyle. 

JH: Sweet is undoubtedly about her life, as her own authentic self, that will not be changed because of the environment she is in or the people around her. She is a simple soul that will always find her way back to the “sweet North country,” where the real Elizabeth Grant lies. Considering that her discography often mentions the West Coast or a prominent city life, knowing that the life she has lived will never change the person her town raised. Because of the clear rural area she was born into, it would be easy to assume that being introduced to the lifestyle that comes with all the fame and money she obtained through her success would make someone change. She sings “I’m a different kind of woman, if you want some basic b**ch, go to the Beverly Center and find her.” This has a tone of not changing regardless of everything she has gained and forgetting where she comes from. Del Rey has always been known to be her authentic self and not censoring herself regardless of repercussions, but this track gives us insight of her just being a girl in the world. 

FIngertips: Similar to “The Grants”, “Fingertips” is about family, life, and death. The song covers family trauma, questioning of her own existence and her future. 

LC: “Fingertips” is a very personal, emotional inducing song. This is probably the most intimate and emotional song from the album in my mind. “Fingertips” is about Del Rey’s life, her thoughts, family, worries, and death. Lana asks her father and siblings if they would be with her throughout her life. She also mentions wanting a tomb next to her dad, grandpa, grandma, and her uncle Dave who took his own life. She also mentions the path of motherhood, wondering if she herself would have a baby and thinking about others saying she’s not fit to be a mother. She also mentions her own mother and the rough relationship held between them. Being sent away and told she would be in an institution. The song also mentions the deaths of people in her family. “Fingertips” is very awakening and reflective towards Lana’s life and how she views her future. This song showcased vulnerability and was very sentimental.

Let The Light In: Let The Light In covers the effects of a toxic relationship and feeling like you are unable to leave and grow. 

JH: “Let The LIght In” is to me the softest sounding song in the album, which might I add has a very slow tempo as it is. The theme of the track didn’t match, considering that it consisted of knowing that a relationship is not good for you, but choosing to stay because it is what you’re used to. Del Rey expresses that she is aware that this isn’t healthy, but she continues to fight despite there being nothing to hold on to. At the beginning of the track she sings “Drive around, get drunk, do it again” which lets us know she is aware of the recurring cycle that she knows will never change. She still holds on to the good memories as she also sings “I love to love you, I hate to hate you.” She did a great job at accurately describing the situation of not being able to break the routine you are used to because you are scared of the unknown. 

The interludes were an important part of the album as it ties in to the whole religious aspect of it. Both interludes were sermons and preachings. 

Judah Smith Interlude

JH: The first interlude of the album is the Judah Smith Interlude, which is a sermon that controversial conservative preacher Judah Smith presented. The sound and audio was pretty raw, leading me to believe it was a recording that came from Del Rey. The four minute interlude consisted of Smith dissing the idea of being envious of those who have more than you, and bashing not being happy with what God gave you, all while ending the sermon with the words “I’ve discovered my preaching is mostly about me.” I really don’t understand where she was coming from by adding this to the track list, but I think it added a bit of diversity into the album which some might enjoy. 

LC: Judah Smith Interlude caught my attention, but not in a good way. I wasn’t sure exactly what interlude meant, so after hearing this track and hearing no music I searched the word up. Interlude is a pause between the acts of a play/and intervening period of time. It made sense as to why there wasn’t any singing since it was a “break” in the album. The track was a 5 minute long sermon of Pastor Judah Smith. From the first track you can tell this album is very religion based, from the gospel music to the spiritual lyrics. This track tied really well with the ongoing religious theme of the album.

Jon Batiste Interlude 

LC: The second interlude of the album was not as bad as the first. This track contained a sermon in the background but was barely noticeable. I didn’t hate this track because it’s instrumental was nice to hear. 

JH: I preferred this interlude more in comparison to the first one, though it still didn’t catch my attention enough for me to listen to it again. It was a sermon that wasn’t as loud as the first which made it a little easier to stand. 

LC: Overall I give this album a 8.5/10. I really enjoyed this album. It was emotionally inducing, heartbreaking, and astonishing. The only part I didn’t like were the interludes, but other listeners might disagree. However, I did like how the interludes fit into the theme of the album. The gospel music, hints of trap beats, and heart wrenching lyrics are nothing less than expected from Lana Del Rey. This album felt very reflective, personal and spiritual. 

JH: In comparison to her prior albums, this one wasn’t in my top 5. I think that the work she produces is always incredible and can reach each and every audience, but it was a little too mellow for the taste I have at the moment. The clear ease she has in her lyrics is undeniable, but the weird religious tones were also a bit of a weird touch to add into an album that is composed of topics that would typically be the farthest thing away from religious. It does have a few songs that were added to my library, but overall I don’t find myself listening to this over her past albums. I would give it a 7/10, as I did enjoy a few of the tracks. I definitely prefer Ultraviolence and Honeymoon, which I feel do justice to the sheer talent she has when it comes to making music that is not only pleasing to the ear, but is extremely relatable.