After his Grammy-winning album Channel ORANGE was released in 2012, Frank Ocean went off the grid for almost four years. The fame surrounding Ocean grew over the years for being “non-existent” and people began to doubt whether he would ever release content again– that is, until August 20th, 2016. Ocean released his highly anticipated second album Blonde and the fans were satisfied, but was it truly worth waiting four years?
Ocean gave us seventeen new songs to listen to on Blonde, but the most popular are “Ivy” and “Pink + White.” “Ivy,” consists of Ocean singing about youth and love. The track has a continuous guitar beat in the background and reminds fans of Ocean’s hit, “Thinkin Bout You” from Channel ORANGE. “Pink + White” is a very fun song to listen to, the piano and birds chirping in the background give it a very uplifting tone. This song fits in perfectly when you’re having one of those perfect days when everything goes your way. Now, while both of these songs are very uplifting, we hear the best of Ocean in the slower songs “Self Control” and “White Ferrari.” Both tracks flow perfectly with amazing vocals from start to finish.
Many artists are beginning to include poems or interludes in their albums, and Blonde was no exception. In “Be Yourself,” a voicemail from a mother to her child begins to play at the start of the song. The mom advises her child to avoid drugs in college and to stay true to who you are. In “Facebook Story,” you listen to one of Ocean’s producers tell a love story and how it was ruined because of social media. He explains that he was in a three year relationship and his girlfriend broke up with him because he didn’t accept her friend request on Facebook. There are debates on why these were included on the album but they symbolize actions in Ocean’s life and today’s society. The purpose of “Be Yourself” is to remind people of the mistakes Ocean has made in the past when it comes to drug possession before his release of Channel ORANGE. Ocean has matured since that time in his life and he doesn’t want high school and college students to make the same mistakes that he made years ago. But “Facebook Story” stands as a statement on how much social media has affected us. We as a society are consumed by social media and Ocean touched upon that by sharing his producer’s story.
An album’s opening and final songs are arguably the two most important; they give the listener the first and the last impression of the album. The first song is “Nikes,” which opens with an echoing drum beat and a distorted voice. About half-way through the song, the autotune ends and Ocean begins to sing. That’s when the song truly gets good. The final track of the album is “Futura Free” and there are not many things to like about the 9 minute, 24 second drag of a song. Most of this track consists of weak vocals from Ocean that overpowers a great beat. Neither song did its duty giving a good first and last impression yet the album still shines thanks to powerful songs like “Self Control”.
Although Blonde had a weak start and finish, the songs within the album give the average listener a wild ride. Frank Ocean took a lot of chances with this album and four years in the making, it was a success.