Lana Del Rey is one of the greatest artists of our generation.
And no, that isn’t just me speaking as a die-hard Lana stan. Del Rey has pioneered modern alternative music. She recently won the Visionary Award at the Billboard Women in Music Awards 2023, and she was named Variety’s artist of the decade in 2021.
On March 24, Del Rey released her widely anticipated ninth studio album, “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.”
On the record, Del Rey explores themes of death, family, womanhood and simply being over a combination of piano ballads and trap beats, overlaid with Del Rey’s smooth, ethereal voice.
Throughout her expansive career, Del Rey has grown and matured as not only an artist, but as a person. “Ocean Blvd” is the prime example of this growth. It’s Del Rey’s most personal album — it was made by her, for her.
The album opens with “The Grants,” a single that shares Del Rey’s family name (her real name is Elizabeth Grant). The track begins with a choir, which is an interesting way to start the record. Del Rey then comes in, singing about the significance of memories within her family.
It’s a beautiful and sentimental kickoff.
The record’s titular track, which was also released as a single, comes next. It’s by far one of my favorite songs on the album; Del Rey’s vocals are simply amazing, and her pleas to not be forgotten are permanently ingrained in my brain.
On “Sweet,” Del Rey sings to a former lover while exploring the conventionalities of being a woman: “Do you want children? Do you wanna marry me? / Do you wanna run marathons in Long Beach by the sea?”
“A&W” is by far the most popular song on the album, immediately blowing up on TikTok after it was released as a single. It’s one of Del Rey’s most unique songs as of recent, beginning with her typical crooning before divulging into a rap-type shift.
Del Rey gets extremely personal on “A&W,” singing about her family — particularly issues with her mother — and her experience with sexual assault and the media.
There are two interludes on “Ocean Blvd,” but the most interesting one is “Judah Smith Interlude,” a four-minute track of controversial pastor Judah Smith giving a sermon. Del Rey can be heard giggling and speaking over Smith’s words, giving the song a dark feel.
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During this sermon, Smith says his preaching is no longer about God, but himself. I see this as Del Rey making the same statement: she’s now making music about herself, for herself.
Del Rey continues to give glimpses into her personal life on “Fingertips,” which may be her most vulnerable song. The theme of motherhood makes another appearance on this track, as Del Rey sings, “Will the baby be alright? / Will I have one of mine? / Can I handle it even if I do? / It's said that my mind / Is not fit, or so they said, to carry a child.”
She also sings of her childhood boyfriend Aaron Greene, who died in an automobile accident, as well as being sent away to boarding school as a young girl.
“Grandfather Please Stand on the Shoulders of My Father While He’s Deep-Sea Fishing” (what a mouthful) is another song about Del Rey’s family and her relationship with God, featuring French pianist and composer RIOPY.
On “Fishtail,” Del Rey reminisces on childhood memories, comparing them to a relationship in which she’s not receiving care from her partner. She also acknowledges that her past lover wanted her to be sadder.
“Peppers” is reminiscent of Lizzy Grant, Del Rey’s previous stage name. It’s a catchy track that features Tommy Genesis, beginning as a rap song, but shifting to a surf-rock beat after a suggestion from Del Rey; oddly enough, it fits the song perfectly.
“Taco Truck x VB” closes out the album, and it’s by far my favorite track. It’s simply flawless, with Del Rey writing iconic lines like, “Pass me my vape, I'm feelin' sick, I need to take a puff / Imagine if we actually gave a fuck.”
What makes “Taco Truck x VB” even better is the fact it samples a previously unheard version of Del Rey’s 2018 track “Venice Bitch,” which is my absolute favorite song by her.
If you’re going to listen to one song from “Ocean Blvd,” it has to be this one.
I won’t lie, I’m extremely partial to Del Rey’s music. I’ve been a fan of hers since I was 14, and I find myself excited for everything she releases. I loved her most recent albums, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” and “Blue Banisters,” but “Ocean Blvd” definitely tops them for me.
This album is Lana: It’s emotional, it’s personal and I deeply appreciate Del Rey’s ability to get so intimate about details of her own life.