With the five year anniversary of Blonde coming up this year it is a good time to look back at what is considered one of the best albums of the decade and arguably of all time. Blonde is the second studio album released by Frank Ocean on August 20, 2016 and released four years after his first album Channel Orange. It also was released a day after his video album Endless, which was done so he could get out of his record deal and in the process make 20 million dollars which he got all to himself.
Blonde starts with track one “Nikes” which for the first half of the song Ocean uses a new high pitched voice, a risky way to start the album due to it being the first dose of the singer for some listeners. However Ocean pulls it off with ease as the song is still beautiful with a fantastic instrumental and the second half of the song consists of his regular singing voice which blends almost perfectly with the track. The second song is “Ivy” which Frank gets into his love life and in this case the shock he had when the girl he liked confessed her love for him. This is showcased in the lyrics “I thought that I was dreaming when you said you loved me.” “Ivy” is also a great song and gets the album’s mood set into place very well, it also has a riveting outro as the vocals of Frank get heavily distorted with a loud scream to end the song. The next track “Pink + White” switches the vibe of the album up quick as it has a happier summer vibe. The lyrics however, discuss love still this time with him saying his first girl showed him love for the first time. Then track four “Be Yourself” is the first interlude of the album with Frank Ocean’s mom on the phone telling him to be himself and not do drugs in college. This goes with part of the theme of the album as well as Frank later discusses his drug addiction which shows the importance of this voicemail in light of that.
Track five is “Solo” and as the name states he sings about how he is solo in life including when it comes to love. He really shows off his vocal range in this song and from what I have heard from other listeners it tends to be a fan favorite. Track six is “Skyline To” and this song is about how as you get older summer feels faster each year as you get older. This is especially due to Frank being an avid smoker of marijuana at the time which in this song and the rest of the album is called “Californiacation.” This track hits a bit more for me as being sixteen summer does go by quicker and adulthood is just on the horizon. Track seven is “Self Control” and goes back to the topic of love, this time however being on Frank having a love interest go with another man and he wants to still be at least friends with this girl. This track is my personal favorite especially at the end as Frank’s vocals are heavenly and it just hits me in a certain spot every time I listen to the song. This then leads into Track eight and the second interlude of the album “Good Guy”, in this track Frank reveals his bisexuality with the line “there was a gay bar you took me to.” This explains the name “Good Guy” and also at the end of the song there is a conversation between two people which one of them alludes to not chasing girls anymore also possibly hinting to him moving on to guys.
Then the most popular song on the album, track nine “Nights” is nothing short of spectacular. This was the first song I heard of Frank Ocean and it and got me hooked from the jump. The song speaks on multiple topics including Frank moving out of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and chasing his dreams of music in Los Angeles and some of the people he met on the way including another very popular artist Tyler The Creator. Nights most noticeable feature however is the beat switch at exactly the 30 minute mark of the album and signifying the second half of the hour long album, it also switches to a darker more winter vibe to the album at that point. Track ten “Solo (Reprise)” is rapped by legendary rapper Andre 3000 and holds many important topics in the minute and twenty second song. This includes Andre being apologetic for not understanding women and also police brutality of African-Americans. Track twelve “Pretty Sweet” also doesn’t consist of much Frank Ocean as it consists mostly of a choir and children singing the name of the song “Pretty Sweet.” This is a song that I actually enjoy as it starts off in seeming madness with loud noises and Frank’s vocals before slowly transitioning to a more calming vibe. Track thirteen is “Facebook Story” which a french man speaks on how Facebook caused him and his girlfriend to break up. This was because he wouldn’t add his girlfriend on Facebook because in his words “she was already in front of him.” This shows how important social media is and how it affects our lives even more than we really know.
Track Fourteen is another fan favorite in “White Ferrari” which slows down the album and sets up the final run for the album. Frank’s vocals really show out on this song especially at the 2 minute mark of the track where the calming guitar solo suits Frank’s riveting vocals almost too well. Track Fifteen “Seigfried” is another calming slow track which Frank sings about him not being brave enough to go into relationships. Ocean again has incredible vocals on this track but the most hard hitting part of the song has to be the lyrics repeated at the end of the song “I’d do anything for you in the dark.” The meaning behind this is that Frank doesn’t want to be laughed upon for doing anything for his lover so he would rather do it out of the public eye. Track Sixteen is “Godspeed” which during the making of the song had multiple different versions created, but Frank’s brother picked the version which was released. It gives the song greater meaning as Frank’s brother passed away late last year and Godspeed is usually a word people use for people who pass away. The final song on the album is “Futura Free” and it is the longest song on the album being over 9 minutes long. The song is Frank looking back on how he got his success and the struggles in his life he overcame. For some reason whether it be the lyrics or instrumental this song hits me in a spot I can’t explain that almost no other song ever has been able to. This was also the song that really made me want to listen to Blonde in full which ended up being a great decision. The end of the song is of many of Frank’s friends being asked questions in school about a variety of topics which wraps up the album well.
Blonde is truly a work of art and if you haven’t already you definitely need to give it a listen. Words can’t describe the essence and vibe this album gives off so listening to it is the only way you can fully understand and depict the greatness of the album. I rate Blonde a 10/10 it has nearly zero flaws and is my favorite album I’ve ever listened to undoubtedly.