Frank Ocean’s emotionally charged Blond is worth a listen

CAMERON MUNIZ, Staff Writer

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Blond by Frank Ocean is most certainly one of my favorite albums ever. This is his second studio album, following the critically acclaimed 2012 Channel Orange that was nominated for four Grammys, winning one in the category Best Urban Contemporary Album. Blond was released in 2016 the day after visual album Endless to a lot of positive reception from fans and critics alike.

One of my favorite tracks is Nikes. It starts off with Ocean’s voice pitched up, which makes him sounds similar to a chipmunk. At around the three-minute mark, Ocean sings unfiltered by the vocal editing. This is one of the better parts of the album in my opinion. It is a huge homage to Ocean’s fans who have been anticipating new music for years. It feels like the curtains are being pulled back to reveal this wonderful album. 

The song is wonderfully written, with lines discussing the deaths of Treyvon Martin, Pimp C, and A$AP Yams. This song is one of my favorite songs on the album because of the minimalistic instrumental and pitched-up vocals. I can definitely see how some can find them annoying, but I love the artistic choice to keep his vocals hidden until later in the track. It is my favorite song off of the album.

I also like the vulnerable moments scattered throughout the album. For example, the song Good Guy, which is simply Frank singing while playing the piano. There is some quiet static in the background and at one point, you can hear the microphone being moved. It feels like a very intimate moment between the listener and Frank Ocean. 

The album also has interviews with people which adds to the vulnerability. In these people really open up about themselves, one of them is with French musician Sebastian discussing a relationship he had with a woman. He talks about how he was in a relationship when Facebook arrived and she wanted him to accept her on Facebook but he did not want to because “it was virtual, means no sense” and she then proceeded to break up with him. While Sebastian is talking about this super emotional moment, a simple piano sample titled Running Around by Buddy Ross is playing in the background. There are lots of other interviews on the album that give the album a lo-fi “rough around the edges” feel that I really like. 

Another one of my favorite tracks on this album is titled Nights. The first half of the song is a super catchy guitar loop with bells and drums. I find this part of the song constantly stuck in my head. The songwriting in this part is extremely good, which is expected from Frank Ocean. Then, the song starts to slow down, until the guitar loop starts getting shorter and shorter, building up tension then the beat switches into the second half of the song, which takes a much sadder tone.

This part is the beginning of the second half of blonde which feels sadder and more nostalgic. With slower and more emotional tracks like Close to You and White Ferrari coming in the second half of the album, it definitely takes a sad turn after Nights. This shift is one of my favorite parts of the album.

There are also many other songs I like on this album. Songs like White Ferrari and Solo are extremely good songs. The song Godspeed is a moment of clarity in the album that feels as if you have made it through the darkness and sadness that is the second half of Blond. Some of the other songs I like are Pink+White, Self Control and Good Guy.

However, this album is not perfect. There are some mixing problems in this album. For example, following Nights is a song called Solo (reprise), which is a verse by Andre 3000 that always seems way too loud. Also the song Pretty Sweet starts off very chaotic. I know this Frank Ocean’s intention but, it does not appeal to me. 

Overall, Blond is one of my favorite albums ever, Frank Ocean’s vocals combined with the Neo-Pop and R&B instrumentals is an unbeatable combo that will be remembered for years to come.

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