WVAU’s #4 Album of 2016: "Blonde" by Frank Ocean

Lauren Peressini

Frank Ocean‰’s most recent album, Blonde, is the musical embodiment of blue balls. Anyone who remotely cares about R&B has been waiting for this album for what seems like years because it truly has been. Frank Ocean‰’s first album, Channel Orange, was released in 2012. 2012 was such a different time than 2016. Obama was being reelected as President of the United States, I was a sophomore in high school and not a junior in college. No stranger to being a tease, Ocean released several cryptic photos via social media hinting at the release date of his album.

If you‰’re anything like me, you may have lost patience waiting around for this alleged album to drop. Originally set to be released July 2015, the album finally came out on August 20 of this past year. While I can‰’t say I always advocate for waiting around, especially when it toys with people‰’s emotions, I can attest that Blonde was well worth the wait. When Spotify removed this album from streaming, for approximately twelve hours, I was distraught.

I‰’ll have to admit, the first time I listened to Blonde was a bit after August 20. I was hanging out with a musician I was seeing at the time and some of his musically inclined friends, and when one of them asked if I had listened to Blonde, I did what anyone who fears public embarrassment did, I lied. “Of course. I‰’ve listened to the whole thing,‰” I said. So, on my walk home across Northwest DC, I listened to the whole of Blonde. And needless to say, from that first listen, I was hooked.

Blonde maintains Frank Ocean‰’s signature crooning vocals I adored on Channel Orange, as well as enough new vibes to not feel like I was still bumping Crack Rock or Super Rich Kids. (Even though I totally still do). Listening to Blonde even made riding the AU shuttle an enjoyable experience. The raw emotion that comes through makes me argue that this album is best listened to alone. Although I enjoyed it best out and about, surrounded by strangers that created a generalized other, but around whom I was still alone. The following lines, from my favorite track, Seigfried, really demonstrate this feeling.

“The markings on your surface

Your speckled face

Flawed crystals hang from your ears

I couldn’t gauge your fears

I can’t relate to my peers‰Û

“Been living in an idea

An idea from another man’s mind‰Û

Blonde is ethereal. Listening to this album changes the atmosphere around you. The imagery is beautiful. Fittingly, Ocean uses water lyrically, often referencing pools and drowning. In a massive power move, Ocean did not submit Blonde to be considered for a Grammy, citing “that institution certainly has nostalgic importance… It just doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.‰Û

Recommended Tracks: Seigfried, Self Control, Ivy

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