New Lana Del Rey Album Takes a Unique Approach to Songwriting


Lana Del Rey’s ninth studio album ‘Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd’ was released March 24th, 2023.

Alison Walker, Staff Writer

Singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey recently released her ninth studio album entitled Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd, comprising 16 tracks– making it her longest project thus far. This album includes features from other artists such as Jon Batiste, Father John Misty, Bleachers, Riopy, Tommy Genesis and SYML. 

   As an artist known for her melancholic lyrics and mesmerizing vocals, Del Rey has taken a more raw approach on this project, with an emphasis on writing without much filter, and she does not seem as concerned with the backlash she may receive in doing so.

   The album opens with the croons of a gospel choir. The first song The Grants is an homage to memories and the beauty of taking the reminiscence of a person with you everywhere you go- even in death. The singer references her family several times throughout the song, which likely inspired the track’s title, her real last name being Grant.

    “A&W”, one of the singles she released before the full album, is a seven minute rant splitting into two parts, telling the story of childhood innocence and a harsh journey into adulthood. It combines her light, airy vocals with Jack Antonoff’s production on the upbeat second half. 

   Track 13, “Margaret” is an ode to her close friend and producer, Jack Antonoff’s relationship, the song being named after his finance, actress Margaret Qualley. The song is written anecdotally, with personal references to their relationship and the story of their meeting. It’s a “simple song.. gonna write it for a friend” as Lana puts it, though incredibly powerful in its simplicity. It repeats the sentiment of “If you know you know” in the chorus, referring to him knowing that she is the one for him. 

   Antonoff is featured on the track under his band name Bleachers and sings his own verse about his future wife. “Let the Light In” is the 12th track- and a personal favorite of mine. One potential interpretation of this song is an affair between two singers, with the female singer becoming involved with a male singer who is in a committed relationship. The lyrics suggest an air of secrecy between the two having to be private about their relationship. Throughout the song the female singer admits to wanting more than their affair, seeking a sort of domestic life together, wishing to “let a little light in”- to their relationship. Another interpretation is that “ letting the light in” refers to their connection being exposed to the public.

   The album’s title track, Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd is inspired by the historical Jergins Tunnel on Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach California. She uses it as a metaphor for herself, seeing as the tunnel was closed to the public in 1967, becoming almost entirely unknown, she connects this to her own fear of being forgotten and wish to be remembered. Lana repeats the pre chorus of “ When’s it gonna be my turn” referring to the public’s abandonment of the tunnel and ponders when this will occur to her in regard to the career she has built for herself, wondering when her moment will be over.

   Compared to prior albums, this project has a stronger focus on lyricism following a sort of unconventional structure of sound. Her last few albums have been mellower with simple instrumental, compared to her bolder signature style and this album is no exception to that change. Lana has expressed an interest in branching out from her typical sound, opting for a less produced more acoustic sound. ‘This music is about thought processing. It’s very, very wordy. I’m definitely living from the neck up,”  the singer shared in a recent interview with Billboard in regard to the new album. Many fans have expressed disappointment in her last few albums being so drastically different, wanting her to revert back to the original genre that got her famous and missing the unique feel of her early releases such as Born to Die, Ultraviolence and Lust for Life. Though her sound has drastically changed overtime, her music has matured and morphed as she has grown as an artist and evolved her writing style . ‘Eleven years ago I wanted it to be so good,’ she expressed when discussing the content of her albums. ‘Now, I just sing exactly what I’m thinking,’ the singer shared.