Content warning: This article may not be suitable for those sensitive to topics of sexual violence.
Leading up to her soon-to-be-released album, “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.,” Del Rey delivered a Valentine’s Day gift with “A&W” on February 14th. Following her in-depth interview for Interview Magazine, the single has intimate storytelling and profound production.
Del Rey has been known for her detailed world-building within her lyrics. The latest single is a sample of her brilliant capability to tell a unique story all within seven minutes. Within the lyrics, Del Rey questions her place in the world. She opens up about her childhood in the first minutes of the song, missing her adolescence. The singer has mentioned her lack of a mother in previous songs, but on the track, is blunt about her absence and the effect on Del Rey.
The writing moves into her womanhood and what it feels like to feel worthless as a woman. From her body image to sexual assault, the singer is unafraid to say what is on her mind.
“If I told you that I was raped / Do you really think that anybody would think I didn’t ask for it / I didn’t ask for it,” she sings.
Del Rey comes back to the phrase “American whore,” which alludes to the underlying meaning of “A&W.” All her life, the singer has felt she was not worthy of being loved and only “the other woman.” However, everyone else around her sees her as promiscuous.
Throughout this story, melodic piano follows her voice. This is a similar style Del Rey has used frequently throughout her last three albums. These ballad-style songs, which the singer has grown to be known for, are what draw away listeners who come for a catchy pop song. She pushes away from this approach with a dramatic beat separating the song into two parts. Producer Jack Antonoff brings a drum machine out of the closet for this track, something that Del Rey did not touch often in her most recent tracks.
Her hip-hop-inspired and trap-style beats are reminiscent of her previous record “Lust for Life.” This portion of the song is refreshing and innovative, while still keeping her nostalgic Americana touch to the track. She uses an interpolation of “Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko-Bop” by Little Anthony and the Imperials for this duration. This expression is common throughout American pop culture but the phrase alludes to the act of a man being sexually aroused by a woman.
Paired with this, Del Rey sings, “Love me if you love or not, you can be my light.”
After the four-minute mark, her distorted vocals sing about knowing a man is using her which adds to her overarching theme of being loveless.
The production on the track is phenomenal and enticing for what’s to come on “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd.” If you are a fan of Lorde’s “Melodrama” or Taylor Swift’s “Reputation,” this track may land a spot on your “on-repeat” Spotify playlist.
Verdict: Lana Del Rey makes a bold and beautiful return with “A&W,” from the intense bass to the vivid storytelling.