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Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

Hopkinton High School's Student News Site

HHS Press

Did the Success of His Album Paralyze Frank Ocean?

A Blonde album review

Alternative R&B artist Frank Ocean has not released an album since his critically acclaimed 2016 record Blonde.

Despite continuously appearing on year-end charts, Ocean continues to ignore his fanbase’s demand to give them more, a practice that’s very unconventional in the music industry given the success of his work. Some critics and theorists have claimed that Ocean has failed to release new music in the fear that it will not live up to Blonde.

However, on November 8, Ocean released a snippet of a new song as an Instagram Story, and hungry fans began to quickly speculate this being a part of a new album teased during his April 2023 Coachella performance. 

According to okayplayer, Ocean said,  “I want to talk about why I’m here because it’s not because of a new album. Not that there’s not a new album.” So, what makes Blonde such a hard act to follow?

Culture Podcast: We Indulge in Some Necessary Frank Oceanography About Blonde | WIRED

Pressing play on any track on this album, you’ll be greeted with simple yet full of life beats. The neutral and somewhat bittersweet sonics put you in an initial headspace where you’re not completely sure what emotion is being expressed. With his clever wording, Ocean quickly tackles those hard-to-describe emotions and muddled thoughts.

The spotlight is always on Ocean’s singing, however, so many songs are balanced enough to be enjoyed as just instrumentals. When combined together, Ocean’s emotion-filled voice and angelic synths build as the track goes on; like in Self Control, or Pink + White. Throughout the album, harsh lyrics and pitch-corrected vocals break up and contrast pleasing melodies, adding to the mesmerizing effect.

Ocean is open and vulnerable throughout the album, discussing his past relationships and personal faults. The broad one-line metaphors and described experiences could be related to many people and their own specific circumstances. I guarantee that on the first listen Ocean, will describe a feeling or period in his life that can be applied to yours.

The tracks flow together nicely, comparing ideas from past songs or past stages in Ocean’s life to another song or other time. The song Ivy shows Ocean’s loss of innocence following a heartbreak. This song is filled with undertones of regret, but comes to a realization that there is a difference between love and lust, especially in young relationships. Ocean questions what was superficial and what he could’ve changed to make that relationship work, ending the track with almost scream-like vocals that express the emotion he carries from that loss.

Immediately after is the track Pink + White, showing Ocean’s maturity and growth since that failed relationship. Ocean learns you can’t control everything and must learn to accept what’s out of your control. Despite the feelings you may have for someone, you cannot impose them on others. Ocean knows love cannot be forced. 

The re-listenability of this album is unlike many others. With each play through I have picked up on some play on words that adds a whole other dimension to the album. 7 years later this album is even better than it was on the first day released.

Yes, for Frank Ocean this is a hard album to follow up from, but if anyone can top it, it’s Ocean himself. 

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