Lana Del Rey’s 2023 album “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Boulevard” takes her sound to a new level, from songs like “Paris, Texas” and “Peppers”, she secured her name on the 2023 visionary award. (Lola Burns)
Lana Del Rey’s 2023 album “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Boulevard” takes her sound to a new level, from songs like “Paris, Texas” and “Peppers”, she secured her name on the 2023 visionary award.

Lola Burns

Album Anatomy: “Did you know that there is a tunnel under Ocean Blvd”

May 3, 2023

In the wake of a two year hiatus, with pressure from the enormous success of prior albums, fans highly anticipated iconic American superstar Lana Del Rey’s ninth studio album, Did you know that there is a tunnel under Ocean Blvd,” released on March 24, 2023. The album takes on numerous philosophical and introspective topics including motherhood, death, grieving, familial matters and a spiritual journey. Rey also gives what might be one of her best vocal performances in her discography. 


“The Grants”

As the first song in the album, “The Grants” sets the sorrowful tone of mourning that is prevalent throughout most of the songs in the collection. Lana Del Rey’s given name was Elizabeth Grant, hence the name of the song. This is symbolic of her life out of the spotlight, focusing on her family and the death of family members she’s experienced. She mentions those she has lost by singing, “My 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 / It’s a beautiful life / Remember that too for me.” Within these lyrics, Rey hints about the threshold between life and death with a stunning tribute to her niece Phoenix Pickens-Grant and her grandmother Cynthia K Grant, who both passed away in 2021. This song is the start of a remarkable album that plays with the theme of mortality, while also creating a moving, soulful memorial for those she’s lost. 


“Did you know that there is a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” 

Released before the album on Dec. 7, 2022, this song provided a taste of the direction Rey was taking her music. As the title of the album, the track epitomizes Rey’s vision for the composition like her dulcet vocal performance. Included are several motifs such as self-hatred and abusive relationships, which are not as prevalent in this album but were the subject of many other past albums. 







In stark contrast with Rey’s former albums about toxic and lascivious romances, this song displays her transition into wanting more of a committed relationship. In the lyrics of her song, she debates her willingness to settle down and start a family, as well as her uncertainty pertaining to the idea of growing older. Rey also often intertwines lyrics from older songs in her newest albums. Within this song there are relations to “The Greatest” and “Kintsugi,” allowing her to continue themes from her previous works.





The song “A&W” was released approximately a month before the rest of the album on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2023, so fans were already well versed with the song. The seven minute ballad takes the listener through a range of emotions starting with an enchanting and delicate tone in typical Rey fashion, but taking a sharp turn and synthesizing into a darker, grittier sound around the four minute mark. The final seconds of the song is unrecognizable from the initial beats, further exemplifying the duality of Rey’s songwriting. This song also establishes the album’s unhurried pace, as each song is three to seven minutes long, allowing for the subject matter to be thoroughly developed overtime.



“Judah Smith Interlude” 

In “Did you know there is a tunnel under Ocean Blvd,” Rey’s singing is passionate and reminiscent of a sermon with piano in the background. Rey is almost nowhere to be found in this song, for the controversial pastor Judah Smith of Hillsong Church dominates the song with a five minute rant. He seems to be preaching about lust and sinning by saying, “It’s a life dominated with lust / And for too long, they’ve been holding on / And finally, they just get weak and they say / It doesn’t matter anymore.” 



“Candy Necklace”

Continuing the idea of religion, the chorus of “Candy Necklace” includes some of Rey’s deepest lyrics. Her vocals aren’t extremely loud in this song, however she displays her impressive range in a whimsical manner. As a writer of this song, Rey included an outstanding chorus of, “Rockefella, my umbrella / God, I love you, baby / Sittin’ on the sofa, feelin’ super suicidal / Hate to say the word, but, baby, hand on the Bible.” “Candy Necklace” is believed to talk about the idea of love. In fact, Rey refers to candy necklaces as a childlike carefree distraction and how “all his necklaces … bring me down.” This brings the listener another innuendo to the play on life and death with the suicidal undertone of this song. 



“Jon Batiste Interlude” 

Similar to “Judah Smith Interlude,” this track did not include much singing, instead venturing towards a powerful statement placed in front of piano music. In “Jon Batiste Interlude” Rey sings background vocals, however her voice is easily overpowered by the piano, making this song one of the least popular on the album. However, it is clear that John Batiste is a very talented singer, as he won five Grammy Awards between 2021 and 2022, making him a popular up and coming musician. Him and Rey have a special connection while singing, as their soft vocals effortlessly blend into a  stunning song about churchlike love. They refer to each other as “sweet honey,” drawing both words out into a quiet vibrato. While they do connect beautifully, Rey clearly favors his vocals, as he is featured twice in the album. 




“Kintsugi” is arguably one of the most devastating tracks on the album, as the name itself is a metaphor for coping with grief. This song details Rey’s grief after the passing of her uncle and trying to process that despair. In an interview with Rolling Stone U.K., Rey speaks on the inspiration for the song stating, “‘Kintsugi’ I started writing naturally when my sister and my dad and I were at my great uncle Dick’s hospice in Manhattan Beach with all 50 of the Grant members.” Her airy vocal performance seen throughout the entirety of the album further highlights her mourning, while the lyrics heart-wrenchingly detail her grasp on her mortality, stating, “And I just can’t stop cryin’ ’cause all of the ways / When you see someone dyin’ / You see all your days flash in front of you / And you think about who would be with you.”



“Fingertips” is a meditation on Rey’s mortality and who will remain with her until that point. As one of the more somber tracks she asks, “Will I die or will I get to that ten-year mark? / Where I beat the extinction of telomeres / And if I do, will you be there with me? Father, sister, brother.” Through this she speaks on her fears and worries, begging for answers that no one can reply with. This is one of many longer songs from the track at nearly six minutes, however the entrancing instrumentals and emotional lyrics allow the time to fly by.




“Paris, Texas (feat. SYML)”

Already one of the most loved songs on the album, “Paris, Texas” is a welcome interlude after some of Rey’s more intense songs, as the muted chords and gentle instrumentals allow the listener a relaxing yet captivating experience. The melodic piano from SYML’s song “Where’s My Love” and the breathy vocals of Rey together sound entrancing. This song is a breath of fresh air after diving into the depths of Rey’s psyche, but is short-lived as the shortest song on the album at just over three minutes.




“Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing (feat. RIOPY)” 

“Grandfather please stand on the shoulders of my father while he’s deep-sea fishing” is another addition to the songs about mourning. In this case, it is her grandfather. Rey begs the heavens for an explanation asking, “God, if You’re near me, send me three white butterflies / Or a map to know your vision, impart on me your wisdom.” 





“Let the Light in (feat. Father John Misty)”

This song begins solely with Rey and is then later joined by collaborator, Father John Misty. As they harmonize in the chorus and bridge, the two voices blend seamlessly. Rey’s solo lyrics in this song reveal her perspective on her relationship, however when the two begin to sing together their perspectives merge into one. Although this is one of the most widely accepted interpretations, the lyrics are meant to be ambiguous and the interpretation of the song is up to the listener as most of the album is.




“Margaret (feat. Bleachers)”

The song starts out with the lyrics, “This is a simple song, gonna write it for a friend.” Presumably this song was dedicated to Jack Antonoff’s fiancee, Margaret Qualley. Jack Antonoff is a long term collaborator with Rey and has helped with albums “Norman F******g Rockwell” and “Chemtrails Over the Country Club.” In an interview she mentioned, “I was like, you know what? I want to write a song for him. It lands right in the middle of the album.” Many fans speculate that this song will eventually be played at the wedding of Antonoff and Qualley, as it clearly was a sentimental fun piece that flowed easily.




Fishtail is another one of the tracks that Antonoff collaborated on. “Don’t you dare say that you’ll braid my hair, babe / If you don’t really care,” Rey sings, telling her partner not to make promises that they cannot keep. Throughout the album listeners have gotten to hear a vulnerable side to Rey’s writing where she questions the reality of her relationship and is unsure what to do, something that the audience could undoubtedly relate to.






“Peppers (feat. Tommy Genesis)”

This moves in an extremely different direction from the theme of religion with a reference to Tommy Genesis’ 2015 song “Angelina.” The chorus of this song name drops Angelia Jolie and her iconic braided hair in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.” This track is also more upbeat than most of the songs in “Did you know that there is a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” and is similar to one of her previous albums, “Ultraviolence.” With quick tempo changes the listener is easily caught in the flow of the music and it is placed in the perfect spot to begin wrapping up the album.




“Taco Truck x VB”

In true Rey style, her last song in this album is a reference to one of her previous albums, “Norman F******g Rockwell.” She starts this song with an airy new track, catchy chorus and her typically well written lyrics. However, this slowly transitions into the bridge which has the previous instrumentation behind a recording of her speaking. This bridge flows effortlessly into “Venice B***h” with a twist. She uses the same background music in “Taco Truck” behind “Venice Bitch” making it into a seamless single song. With a final lyric of, “Soundin’ off, bang, bang, kiss, kiss,” Rey successfully astonished her listeners with a throwback to 2019. 

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