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and she Does it AGAIn

When Norman REDACTED Rockwell (NFR) came out in the year 2019 on August 20th the world was forever changed because somehow Lana out staged Ultraviolence, one of the great gifts to pop culture of the 21 century. The albums she produced in between this time were Honeymoon (HM, 2015) and Lust For Life (LFL, 2017), these albums were critically acclaimed and Pitchfork also had some things to say about them. 

I was in my junior year of high school and NFR was the only thing that got me through the first semester and then through the next three years. Her following albums which were put out during the pandemic (which by the way, isn’t over yet), were highly anticipated: Chemtrails Over the Country Club (COCC, 2021) followed by Blue Banisters (BB, 2021). If you were on the internet at this time then you know Del Rey was a bit unhinged, putting out her own cover design for the album and then also fighting with Doja Cat; it felt like a fever dream. As a result, yes there was anticipation but people were also worried about what it was she was going to put out next. The unpredictability of this time kept fans on their feet and me in shambles. I kept thinking: “There’s no way she is going to top NFR.”

During the pandemic, she fell out of the public’s eye, and she seemed to be enjoying herself, her family, and her friends. I think this is one of the ways the pressure she was feeling was elevated. A lot of feelings were had over the pandemic for everyone and in turn, we got two albums filled with everything Lana Del Rey needed to get out. They have their charms, and unfortunately, I wasn’t as in love with them as I was with NFR. Being a fan during the peak of consumerism means we have come to expect that anything new, whether it be by musicians, filmmakers, food companies, etc. must be new and improved. Unfortunately, we are all guilty of this because we do in fact live in a society. I wasn’t looking for her to top NFR because I understand the pressure artists can feel. In Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana, Swift describes the mental strain being a woman in the music industry can cause, which should be a concern for everyone, and I do assume Lana Del Rey has felt this.

I suppose I’ve been waiting for this since 2019, the album that tops NFR or compares anyway. I truly believe NFR is her best album and Did You Know There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard (DYK), is the nostalgic of her greatest achievement ever but with new life breathed into it. The album is reminiscent of childhood, teenage years, past mistakes, and the future plans we all make when we are young, it is like the finishing chapter to NFR. The key difference between NFR and DYK is the intense and edgy aurora NFR radiates; the whole album is about how much men suck (I don’t mean that). We see the rhetoric used in NFR as the complete opposite of DYK.

In DYK, Del Rey uses lyrics in her song “Fishtail” like: “I’m not that smart, but I’ve got things to say/ you’re so funny I just want to skinny dip into your mind,” in a soft whisper, in a tone of voice she softens and hardens as the music goes along. The production is spectacular, her vocals are every bit the Lana we are used to, but better. She goes above and beyond to bring in the lightness of the experience, the overwhelming feeling of love and grief not limited to a significant other. The song is gentle but is juxtaposed by recurring beats, a whistling sound that changes throughout altering the pitch. However, in NFR, the whistling beats are less fluid, except in Venice REDACTED”,  where while she sings “Crimson and clover honey / over and over honey” the music toons in and out, I can only describe it as a whistling sound being stretched. I don’t play instruments and I can’t read music so with my limited knowledge this is what I have been able to understand about the production of her music. All of her albums have similar sounds, mainly because of the use of her voice which helps her create the Americana feel in the instrumentals. For example, in HM Del Rey’s collabs with A.S.A.P Rocky and Playboi Carti in her song “Summer Bummer”, there is a similar experimental beat that sends my mind and soul into another dimension. I only consider this to be such a big deal because she had never really altered her instrumentals in this way. For her first albums, she used stylized instrumentals; the ones she is using now are very modern and crosses genres. There is a lot to consider when weighing the differences, and deciding which is the best (in my opinion). Each era has a different voice, and a completely new soul as if Lana Del Rey has adopted a new persona. I think that each of these albums has contributed greatly to popular culture especially some of her older hits from Born to Die (BTD, 2012) such as “Summertime Sadness”, “Blue Jeans”, and “Dark Paradise” from the Paradise the deluxe BTD album. 

Maybe this is an exaggeration but, I believe this is one of her best albums, and another “Best Album of The Year,” nominee (she better not get snagged). If you haven’t listened to Did You Know There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard I highly recommend it because it has become one of my favorites! There are sixteen tracks, opening with an introspective and heavenly track “The Grants” which smoothly transitions into the single and title of the album which you should know by now. From there it’s a mix of reflective stream of couscous lyrics she is known for and surprise after surprise. I could be exaggerating, only one way to find out. GO LISTEN!

These are my favorite albums:

  1. NFR
  2. Ultraviolence
  3. Did You Know There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard 
  4. Lust For Life
  5. Blue Bannisters
  6. Born To Die & Paradise
  7. Honeymoon
  8. Chemtrails Over the Country Club
Isabella Carrillo is a Junior English major at Texas A&M University and an aspiring writer and English professor in queer and leftist literature. They joined HERs Campus at TAMU in Spring 2023 and are looking forward to making connections with members and readers. In their free time, they work out in various ways, such as yoga, running, swimming, and rock climbing. Other hobbies include reading and writing. When they are not focused on writing they can be found engrossed in their passions; worker's rights, bodily autonomy for all, LGBTQIA+ health care, and climate action.