🎵 How Good Are They Really 🎵 Frank Ocean

listened to blonde earlier, think I enjoyed it more than I did back in 2016 but I’m still not seeing it as anything better than ‘fine’. will give it a few more spins this week, see if I can crack it

thought spotify was playing up, had to look it up on youtube to make sure it was meant to sound like that. not a fan.

amazing voice

new album would be tops

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Fiv(e) for me. Just got so many tracks that stop you in your steps. Both Channel Orange and Blond(e) really linger with you and just feel endlessly re-playable. Just songs to obsess over. Also like that he has an air of mystery surrounding him and tends to only put out info on his on terms which is pretty cool.

Really loved that performance of Forest Gump at the Grammys - which doesn’t seem to be on YT so just gonna post the rehearsal and footage that played in the background that was directed by Hiro Murai of Atlanta fame :running_man:

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Been listening to blonde properly as a result of this thread. Really loving right up to the Facebook bit. After that, not much has clicked so far but I’ll keep persevering.

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Like a few others I’ve gone back to Blonde to give it another go. I listened to it quite a lot when it first came out because I loved some - but not all - of both Nostalgia, Ultra and Channel Orange, but didn’t really get on with it that much.

It’s strange because the vast proportion of the music I listen to is led more by texture and mood than traditional song structures, so it should be right up my street, but it’s still not fully clicking for me.

There are some truly wonderful, almost transcendent moments on Blonde, but for every great bit there’s some meandering, directionless stuff that drags it down again. The weird thing is I don’t mind the music doing that at all and actively enjoy the fact that the songs change direction, but I struggle with the vocals not being more focused. So often it feels like he’s just making up the vocal line as he goes along, which I find frustrating. Like in Skyline To there’s a beautiful backing track that it sounds like he’s ignoring entirely.

Also - and I have this issue with a lot of modern vocally-focused music, whether pop, R’n’B or whatever - he often seems to sing a whole bunch of notes when I really feel like fewer notes would have a greater impact. Or at least allow the points where he does vocal runs to have more impact. Again it just weakens the melodies, and makes me feel like the songs where it all comes together best are the more structured ones with a more disciplined sense of melody.

All that being said, I think I’d struggle to give him less than a 4. He’s a brave artist following his own muse, and there’s always something interesting going on, and I’m genuinely interested to see what he does next. And Pyramids and Lost are all-timers.

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Took me a long time to get into Blond(e). I now listen to it all the time, all the special moments creep up on you, and it’s really cohesive despite its fragmentation.

Ivy is one of my favourite songs ever — beautiful stuff. Those opening lines stop me in my tracks every time.

Channel Orange is great too but don’t return to it nearly as much. Great guy. 5 for me.

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See, I love a lot of r&b, and I love, love Frank. I think if anything the reason why he’s popular with people who don’t like the genre, and not so beloved by some purists is because he really transcends it. Sure, Nostalgia, Ultra was a modern r&b album, very much in the mould of what you’d expect to hear in 2011. The sound wasn’t anything special, but his songwriting crept up on me, and it became one of my favourites of that year.

But Channel Orange was already a major departure from what everyone else was doing for me. Like the leap from Section.80 to GKMC for Kendrick, it just put him streets ahead of the game in terms of ambition and execution. Others will go into what his coming out meant culturally, but lyrically his characters are so richly realised, his voice so malleable (he has a great voice IMO but only uses it when he has to, preferring a crack in the voice or an almost spoken passage to get the vibe across), emotive and relatable. And the music wasn’t the autotune post-808s modern r&b, it was a rich genre sweeping, lush and yet languid journey through soul music.

By the time Blonde drops, he’s barely making r&b music anymore. If someone says they like Blonde, you’re as likely to point them in the way of Dean Blunt or King Krule as Tinashe or Kehlani. I found the album, like a lot of people, pretty jarring at first. But it’s an incredibly bold move from a guy who was more or less positioned to be the biggest male pop star in the world after CO had he wanted to be. They’re bedroom/outsider pop anthems for a youth who are anxious, spend too much time holed up in their own space and stuck on their phones. They resonate with rock fans, fans of hypnagogic pop, ambient, avant garde etc. as well as pop and r&b, and by crossing boundaries they mean a lot to a lot of people. And like it or not, he did it completely on his terms and didn’t care whether people followed him.

So I really understand if fans of r&b don’t get him. I don’t think he’s too fussed in appealing to that crowd, or any particular crowd at this point. He’s just out there doing his own thing and mostly making wonderful music in his own image, and it’s thrilling to hear someone with all the tools in the world at their disposal doing that. When I hear his voice, like on ‘New Slaves’, it cuts through all the noise and speaks right to me. Whether or not he has the body of work yet to fully deserve it, it’s a 5/5 from me.

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Took me a while to even listen to Blond because I’d been really put off by Nostalgia, Ultra. Which I only listened to a few minutes of before thinking to myself, ‘this is boring, sounds just like Coldplay or something’, and gave up on it.

I’ve only just found out that I must have been listening to Strawberry Swing and that it is, actually, a Coldplay cover. Idiot.

Anyway Blond is fucking fantastic and I’m enjoying delving in to his earlier stuff too.

New track on the way apparently called “These Days” shame Little Demons has been cancelled it would appear, love an Arca remix.

not a big fan of the ‘transcends the genre’ angle but i get what you’re saying. i should also add that a lot of r&b heads really love frank for sure. i dont think hes really an outsider within the space. and i dont think its a matter of getting him (for me anyway)… i get it, i just dont love/obsess over him as much as others. my fav tracks of his could rival my fav tracks of other r&b artists, i just dont find much consistency in the catalog. im being annoying about this. let’s all just vibe out to swim good yeah?

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@BigAl can I have your 2 playlist picks please?

And it’s also time for the score

great thread, great discussion :+1:

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3.86 Thought that’d be higher tbh.

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This is an honour!

I’ll go with:
Self Control

And Novocane please:

Could have been any of about 30.

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Echo this, cracking thread. Thanks @anon19035908

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No thank you. Best bits of these are when people make really passionate in-depth posts about why they love someone.

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Think for this stage in his career this is ok?

highest ranking contemporary r&b artist makes sense on here. higher than beyonce tho :eyes:

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Oh it’s a good score, just thought that the thread indicated a 4+.

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