By P.J. Shoemaker
Blonde (also spelled Blond), Frank Ocean’s much anticipated sophomore album, is a modern music masterpiece and has made waves in the music industry since its release on August 20. Since then, the Contemporary R&B album topped Billboard’s Top 200 Albums. Blonde could be considered the most anticipated album of the year, and without a doubt, it lived up to the hype.
Frank Ocean pulled together artists that would have never collaborated and combined their styles into a style all his own, once again penetrating the charts with music that is original and unique. Blonde features everyone from pop music royalty like Beyonce to british pop-turned- experimental musician Brian Eno and post-dubstep artist James Blake. Ocean even credited Elliott Smith and The Beatles, both of whom he sampled in the album.
One of the major themes found in Blonde is Frank Ocean’s seemingly perpetually split life. The album itself is split in half by one distinct beat change on the track “Nights,” a standout track for me.
The track that best exemplifies Ocean’s dualistic feelings, however, is “Godspeed. ” This song begins with a religious reverence, almost that of a funeral, and developes into a track filled with feelings of nostalgia, while still talking of the future. The track, by the end, leaves us wanting more; this may be the point, though. Ocean could be trying to convey that life is short yet beautiful.
There is no song on Blonde, however, that compares to “Solo.” On first listen, my note on the song wasn’t that it was “gorgeous” or “powerful” like it was for other songs; instead, I wrote “look into it more.” Well, after multiple listens, the intricacy of this track continues to both amaze and baffle me.
The lyricism is filled with witticisms and leaves much to interpretation. The way Ocean echoes the word “Solo” haunts and intrigues the listener like no other lyric on Blonde. “Solo” also features the most memorable chorus, alluding to Ocean’s drug use and questioning its grip on his life.
Blonde will be remembered by its ability to confront the multiple facets of Frank Ocean’s life, such as his childhood friend’s mom’s anti-drug rant on the track “Be Yourself” and the admission of drug use on the subsequent track “Solo.” Even the album title is up for dispute as to whether the proper spelling is the masculine word Blond, or the feminine version of the word Blonde.
After this release, it is certainly fair to say that Frank Ocean can harmonize like no other, and not just in the musical sense of the word. Ocean has proven his ability to combine the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in-between into a groundbreaking album like Blonde (or Blond).