Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd

Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd

Kelsi Boone

Lana Del Rey’s ninth and most recent album, Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd, was released on March 24th of this year. It was highly anticipated by fans, especially after the two-week delay due to the singer’s laptop (with the songs on it) being stolen. It has been out for nearly a month now, however, and has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, especially from critics, some even declaring it her Magnum Opus. There’s no denying that this is an intensely personal (and long, clocking in at 77 minutes) album that showcases Lana’s love for poetry and talent for writing, although it’s unconventional interludes and long piano ballads make it a demanding one for listeners. Because of the long title,  I’ll be referring to Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd as Ocean Blvd throughout this article.

The first thing that struck me about the album is the style of lyricism. Songs rely less on rhyming and are often quite complex, requiring several listens to absorb fully. Most of them are quite long and detailed, written in a way more reminiscent of poetry than her previous work. To find meaning, you may have to dig deeper into the lyrics than most music would ask of you, which is why I believe this album is for dedicated listeners.

In addition to fourteen songs, Ocean Blvd also has two interludes. The first of which, “Judah Smith Interlude”, is a recording of a sermon from pastor Judah Smith. It fits in well with the album’s tone, as Smith delivers a passionate speech to the sound of haunting piano music. “Jon Batiste Interlude” is more lighthearted, a mixture of spoken word and singing. While interesting, I don’t feel the interludes are anything I’d actually listen to.

The song that stands out most on Ocean Blvd, decided not just by me but popular opinion online, is “A&W”. This track starts with Lana stating, “I haven’t done a cartwheel since I was nine..” She reflects on herself, her relationships with her family, and with men. She references the film and/or novel, Diary of a Teenage Girl, in which the main character becomes involved with her mother’s boyfriend. She follows this with “I’m a princess, I’m divisive, ask me, why, why, why I’m like this…” Halfway through the song, which is more than seven minutes in total, it transitions to a completely different style of music, trading gentle piano for a hip-hop sound. She sampled the 1959 song “Shimmy Shimmy KO KO Bop” by Little Anthony and the Imperials, but altered the lyrics. There was some debate about these lyrics, but Lana confirmed online that “Jimmy Jimmy Cocoa Puff…” is the correct reading. This song was immensely creative (and just plain immense), and no doubt the star of the album.

Ocean Blvd may be a mammoth of an album, but it’s certainly one worth listening to.