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Lana Del Rey’s new album enchants, enthralls listeners

Image used with permission from Interscope
Lana Del Rey’s newest album was released worldwide March 24. Her first album in two years, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd,” signalled her return into the limelight of the music industry.

Lana Del Rey’s ninth studio album, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” album speaks to hard-hitting themes and the confounding nature of humanity. Awash with hidden details and loud interludes, it is wholly immersive and showcases Lana’s return into the limelight of the music industry. 

Lana Del Rey initially found success with her first two major-label albums, released in 2012 and 2014. “Born to Die” and “Ultraviolence” hit the music market with some of Lana’s arguably most popular tracks, such as “Summertime Sadness,” “Diet Mountain Dew” and “Brooklyn Baby.” If you’ve heard of Lana Del Rey, or even if you haven’t, chances are you would recognize these songs. 

However, her penultimate release, “Blue Banisters,” didn’t receive nearly the same amount of buzz. Although it sold around 19,000 albums in one week, according to Pop Crave, this was insignificant compared to the popularity of “Born to Die.” Her first release sold over 116,000 albums and held a place on the Billboard charts for 150 consecutive weeks, according to Official Charts

Although her newest album didn’t quite reach these staggering targets, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” performed marginally better than her last album. According to Billboard, it ranked number three on the Billboard 200 and earned 115,000 unit sales in its first week. 

The entire album spans 16 songs over the course of an hour and 17 minutes. While this is longer than the average album, it includes three pre-released singles and two interludes by Judah Smith and Jon Batiste. It encompasses features from many other artists, including SYML, RIOPY, Tommy Genesis, Bleachers and Father John Misty. 

Despite her musical success, Del Rey’s fame has sparked controversy in the past. From her initial releases to polarizing statements made about her reputation in regard to feminism in 2020, there’s never been a dull moment in her career. Del Rey’s inclination to complications came into play in the middle of the tracklist on “Judah Smith Interlude.” The interlude features four and a half minutes of Judah Smith, an American pastor and leader of Churchome, delivering a sermon. Smith’s numerous alleged homophobic remarks in the past upset Del Rey’s reportedly large LGBTQ+ fan base, according to Billboard, leaving fans questioning the inclusion of his interlude.

I found the placement and inclusion of the interlude to be an intentional move. She has always been criticized in the media, yet starkly praised at the same time by her fans. Its inclusion could represent her personal growth, signifying how she makes her own decisions instead of letting others dictate her life. On the other hand, many of her albums run on an Americana theme, which the interlude does add through its conventionally religious and rustic undertones. However, as Del Rey has not spoken out on lyrics that have been criticized as homophobic, the interlude currently lies in a very precarious moral grey zone. 

One of the most gripping songs was “A&W,” beginning with a quiet melody and building to a catchy chorus with a purposeful storyline threaded throughout. In terms of lyrics, Lana did not hold back. She starts by discussing her childhood and then details her descent into a sex-filled society. Her gut-punching lyrics reference current issues around harassment and the MeToo movement that affects American society today.

Moments of quiet and melodic reflection became all the more powerful when intermixed with her usual ranting tendencies.

Her two other singles “The Grants” and “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” helped hold the album together. Their chorus-verse structures make them the most conventionally written songs, in addition to their more basic storyline. This was a satisfying contrast to other songs on the album, which each explored an individual perspective on anything from American culture to the entertainment industry. This left the album often feeling quite busy and full. Therefore, the moments of quiet and melodic reflection became all the more powerful when intermixed with her usual ranting tendencies; Del Ray’s two singles formed the necessary eye of a hurricane within the unabridged album.

Del Rey has never been your typical music artist and this album was no different as it delved deeper into the singer herself and appeared as a commentary on American society. Her singing ability speaks for itself as the album fosters that same ethereal quality she is known for. Although parts of the album are perplexing, “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” is spellbinding. It’s simultaneously the perfect background music for homework and also the perfect soundtrack for crying over another heartbreak. Either way, it will not disappoint.

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