It’s rare when a new musician breaks into the scene and grabs little pieces from various styles of music to create their own genre. In 2012, Lana Del Rey released her major label debut album, Born To Die, an immediate classic. Though her first album titled, Lana Del Rey, was released in 2010, it was pulled from the shelves due to a lack of funding so as a result, it did not get much press. The first time listening to the popular Born To Die was like whiplash. Her melodic, deep voice reverberating hip hop influences, concocted a new indie/alternative, melancholy pop sound. I had to listen to the album a few times to really grasp who the new artist was and what she was doing. She represented herself as a symbol of the American dream so to say, as her songs reference having pride in her country.
With nine studio albums, her Americana theme has stayed consistent, and has earned its place on the “sad girl” music list. As most artists do, she has gone through some musical transitions throughout her career. The indie pop princess slowly strayed from the hip hop elements that were present in her first couple of albums, and began to mellow out a bit.
With her new album’s release in March 2023, Did You Know That There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, she delivers her easiest listening yet. The first track starts with an acapella with multiple vocalists, which immediately reminded me of the all female folk trio Mountain Man. As the track continues, it transitions into a slow tempo piano and vocal number. Surprisingly enough, the whole album encompasses this sound. Each song is piano heavy with minimal to no drums or percussion as her haunting melodies seem to carry the music. As expected, her Americana references still hold true here as she retains her original image. Although she does still hold the title as an alternative pop artist, here she morphs into a singer, where I imagine her performing in a dark and smoky lounge accompanied by a pianist playing
behind her. She does give an homage to her electronic hip hop roots briefly at the end in “A&W” and on the final three tracks, “Fishtail,” “Peppers (feat. Tommy Genesis),” and “Taco Truck x VB.” Maybe as a reminder of where her roots lie, and that she is still the American pop princess that everyone knows her to be.