Lana Del Rey has given us five minutes of pure wistfulness to alleviate those winter blues!
Lana Del Rey’s most recent albums, Chemtrails Over the Country Club and Blue Banisters, have signified a change in the alternative pop singer. She’s become less concerned with universal musical appeal, and more concerned with making mature, introspective art. ‘Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd’ is a continuation of Del Rey’s peaceful and pensive new sound.
Let’s get it out of the way; the song title is odd. It’s not everyday an artist so desperately wants us to know something so trivial, so it must mean something. A secret meeting place perhaps? No, Del Rey just seemingly thinks it’s a fab tunnel, writing “Mosaic ceilings, painted tiles on the wall / I can’t help but feel somewhat like my body, mind, my soul / Handmade beauty sealed up by two man-made walls”. Historically, there was a tunnel under Ocean Boulevard! Lana shared an image of the forgotten Jergins Tunnel to her Instagram, closed to the public in 1967 – a time period the singer has modelled her aesthetic on. This follows a trend of Lana Del Rey’s appreciation of places. Throughout her ten year career, Del Rey has always loved the changing imagery of America. Her Born to Die era was very Hollywood Glamour based, then she started singing about ‘Venice Beach’ in Norman Fucking Rockwell and ‘Arcadia’ in Blue Banisters, signifying her love of more dreamy, calming locations.
The track opens to a few soft strings, before Lana’s sultry, deep vocals kick in. I don’t know if it’s her witchy persona, but there is something about Del Rey’s voice that is so intoxicatingly bewitching. I could very easily just lay down, close my eyes, and listen to her whole discography, and this track is no exception. It’s incredibly dreamy, although the lyrics are quite hard to understand, and a big appeal of Lana’s is her poetic writing, so it’s quite off putting to have to decipher them.
Strings were a big part of Del Rey’s early albums. The piano was a big part of her most recent albums. Even though the song relies heavily on strings, it combines the two instruments perfectly, blending both sounds incredibly well, but then again, it has been produced by music legend Jack Antonoff! As usual, the instrumentals are beautifully put together and would work wonderfully as their own song without the vocals! There is always a very vintage feel to Lana’s sound.
Del Rey has always been a rock music fan, referencing bands like Sex Pistols and The Beach Boys in many songs. Like in God Knows I Tried, Lana references the song Hotel California by the Eagles, perhaps suggesting her next album will be similar to Honeymoon or NFR, two albums critically acclaimed for the melancholic electric guitar sound, something I would love to hear again! However, this song doesn’t particularly suggest the sound will be going that way. It’s a lot more yearnful and wistful.
The lyrics suggest a lot of longing. Del Rey sings “Fuck me to death / Love me until I love myself” and asks “When’s it gonna be my turn?”, which is sad, but also her brand! What would we do if Lana started singing happy songs?! This is clearly a story of wanting closeness, Lana even asks for a friend like Harry Nillson. She samples Nillson’s song title Don’t forget me, which makes up the last lyrics of the song, sung beautifully to the backing of a female choir. Now, cast your mind back to the discussion of Jergins Tunnel. That’s forgotten. Lana doesn’t want to be forgotten. She is the tunnel under Ocean Boulevard. I don’t want to ever criticise Lana, but there’s just something slightly off about the comparison between yourself and a tunnel.
Despite a few jarring ideas, Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd is a dreamy track, and an exciting release in the run-up to her ninth album.
You can listen to Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd here, via Polydor/Stranger Records: