Lana Del Rey’s “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” Album Review – It’s Personal


Luz Analitis, Arts and Life Editor

In iconic Lana Del Rey fashion, the singer/songwriter promoted her newest and ninth studio album “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” with just one billboard in Tulsa, Okla. on December 18, 2022. Tulsa just so happens to be Del Rey’s recent ex-boyfriend’s hometown, and December is coincidentally his birthday month too. Del Rey showcased the billboard on her Instagram with a post where she commented “It’s. Personal.”, just to clarify her deliberate intentions. 

Was this an interesting and attention grabbing marketing tactic? Yes. Was it also a petty, bad-breakup revenge tactic? Yes, and we love her for it.

To add insult to injury, the album is not pointed at her ex or about revenge at all, and he is barely even referenced in it. In fact, this is actually Del Rey’s most raw, unfiltered and personal album to date.

It was released on March 24, 2023. I got snuggled up in my bed that day, put some headphones on, cranked the volume up to max, and listened to the entirety of the album from track one to sixteen, which is my personal favorite way of listening to a new album.

Of the sixteen tracks, fourteen are songs with two thoughtfully placed interludes.

Thematically, this album is unlike any of Del Rey’s previous ones. The singer has faced criticisms throughout her 10-year-plus long career, particularly questioning the authenticity of her music and her apparent industry-manufactured persona. With time and growth, the singer/songwriter is confident and comfortable enough to now bare her innermost thoughts and personal struggles. Through lyrics and interview testimony, she makes it clear that she’s doing it not for the critics or anyone else for that matter, but she is doing it for herself.

The album takes the listener along a river of Del Rey’s musings, flowing from one thought to the next like a personal diary of music. According to a Billboard interview, Lana attests that the overarching theme of the album is “family of origin”. She heavily references her family throughout, including the recent deaths of her Uncle Dave in 2016 and her grandmother in 2021.

Through harrowing yet poetic lyricism, Del Rey also reflects upon general introspections regarding mortality, legacy, afterlife, womanhood, aging as well as the past and its impact on the present and future. 

In my opinion, “The Grants”, “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd”, “A&W”, “Kintsugi”, and “Fingertips” are the most intimate and intensely emotional songs on the album, some of which delve into traumatic topics/experiences. 

Particularly evidenced with “Fingertips”, a “super long and wordy” track Del Rey confesses with no traditional song structure, it is clear that this album does not seek to churn out a bunch of pop hits.

Instrumentally, many of the lyrically-heavy songs are transcendentally accompanied by pensive melodic piano and dreamy string orchestra.

Fret not though, the album is not entirely melancholic and sedate. Remnants of established “Lana-esque” sound and style are heard through songs like “Fishtail”, “Peppers”, and “Taco Truck x VB”, where California sound and trap beats mesh with classic Del Rey dream pop in such an on-brand way for her.

The album also of course includes some contemplative tracks about romantic relationships like “Sweet”, “Candy Necklace”, and “Let the Light In”. In my opinion, these songs are the most reminiscent of Del Rey’s usual songwriting content and style. “Let the Light In” also has a distinct folky guitar sound that adds a satisfying variant to the album sonically.

Unsurprisingly, Del Rey’s ethereal voice, soft and delicate at some points and evocative and entrancing at others, is the vehicle for her poignantly beautiful lyrics. It is the perfect guide for the listener to traverse through such heavy sentiments with.

If I had to pick a single favorite song from the album, it would have to be “A&W”. No, this song is not about the all-American rootbeer brand, but does in a way comment on “Americana” culture, specifically the ways that our society views femininity and the experiences of women.

The song opens with an acknowledgement of loss of childhood innocence and lacking maternal guidance. From there, we follow Del Rey as she ponders and examines her intense sexuality and sexual behavior. She internally struggles with deciphering whether her sexual attitudes are a product of societal expectation, past experiences, or “maybe I’m just like this”. Del Rey even makes reference to rape culture in America with this song, something she seemingly alludes to having personal experience with, which is tragically imbedded into the feminine experience for countless others as well.

I could probably write an entire essay/article on this one song alone, so I’ll stop myself there and leave the rest up for your own examination.

Overall, I felt that listening to this album from start to finish was an emotionally rousing and self-reflecting experience. While the album is central to Lana Del Rey’s own, very personal thoughts and experiences, it leaves room for the listener to reflect on, analyze, and relate to their own experiences as well.

Will I be blasting and jamming out to all the songs from this album on my car speakers every day? No. But do I appreciate the artistry of the album and incredibly intimate and thought-provoking thematic messaging of it? Absolutely.  

So on days or nights when I’m particularly in my feels, I’ll snuggle up in bed and listen to this album reverently, because like Del Rey explained before; “It’s. Personal”.