independent and unofficial
Prince fan community site
Wed 1st Oct 2014 1:11am
Welcome! Sign up or enter username and password to remember me
Forum jump
Forums > Music: Non-Prince > Frank Ocean, 'Channel Orange': Track-By-Track Review
« Previous topic  Next topic »
Page 1 of 4 1234>
  New topic   Printable     (Log in to 'subscribe' to this topic)
Author

Tweet     Share

Message
Thread started 07/10/12 6:57pm

KCOOLMUZIQ

avatar

Frank Ocean, 'Channel Orange': Track-By-Track Review

by Jason Lipshutz, N.Y. | July 10, 2012
Frank Ocean
Def Jam
Frank Ocean

Rising R&B star Frank Ocean taped a harrowing performance on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" that doubled as his network television debut on Tuesday morning (July 10).

There is a difference between Frank Ocean and the rest of his R&B contemporaries. No, it has nothing to do with his admittedly introverted demeanor, or his Odd Future affiliation, or penchant for playing "Guitar Hero" in time with a legendary Eagles guitar solo. It especially has nothing to do with his sexual orientation. Rather, this 24-year-old is lapping his peers and setting the blogosphere ablaze because of the fearlessness in everything he does.

As he demonstrated on last year's spectacular mixtape "Nostalgia, Ultra," Ocean is not afraid to adopt instrumentation choices outside of the R&B realm, dabble with different song layouts, and most importantly, present his audience with big questions that have nothing to do with sex. On "Nostalgia, Ultra," Ocean crooned about the apocalypse over a Coldplay song; two tracks later, he was laying out his views on abortion and the moon landing. Nothing about Ocean's musical and lyrical choices is conventional -- and when his major label debut, "Channel Orange," was previewed not with a radio-friendly pop jam but with a nearly 10-minute concept piece titled "Pyramids," fans of his bold stylistic maneuvers breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Now that "Channel Orange" has arrived on iTunes, that sigh of relief has become a squeal of excitement. And rightly so: over 17 tracks, some of which spin into nothingness and others which poke longingly at the meaning of the universe, "Channel Orange" presents a complex view of American life from the mind of superbly talented writer and vocalist. On "Channel Orange," Ocean is preoccupied with wealth, drugs and sex, but instead of toasting his newfound fame and its spoils, the singer pulls at the thread of their existence, and paws at the idea of love and its place in between all of the shiny material. Happiness is constantly out of Ocean's reach on these songs, whether he's calling unrequited love a "one-man cult" or sitting on his roof, wondering what his next move is when he has everything. There are celebratory moments, but there is a lot of confusion from a young man forging an unfamiliar path.

But no matter what Ocean's mood is on the album, the songs sound fantastic. The production never smothers the singer's sumptuous vocals, which spill over into pockets of air that the listener didn't know could be filled. "Channel Orange" does not contain any bad songs, although there are times when Ocean's themes could be a bit tighter. Yet Ocean's irrepressible spirit carries all 55 minutes of this opus, shining light on subjects that are not discussed often enough and spinning new webs of ideas around familiar R&B tropes. "Channel Orange" may make Frank Ocean a household name, or it might not. Either way, it's one of the best albums of the year, and Ocean, hopefully, will keep making more like it, without a hint of reservation.


Which songs on "Channel Orange" are the best of the bunch? Check out this track-by-track review of the R&B singer's major label debut.



1. Start - Patches of silence and flickers of noise get "Channel Orange" underway. It's as if Frank is giving his listeners 46 seconds to strap in.

2. Thinkin Bout You

A bold choice to lead off his major label debut with a song that's floated around the Internet for a year. Still, the woozy heaven of "Thinkin Bout You's" backing track and Ocean's clawing falsetto still ring true, and bestow "Channel Orange" with a unique backbone.

3. Fertilizer - An AM radio jingle about bullshit, "Fertilizer" is a bridge between Tracks 2 and 4 that underlines the importance of listening to "Orange" in order. On its own, it's a lost pop doodle, but in context, the track makes weird sense.

4. Sierra Leone - The percussion stays buried as Ocean sounds like he's debating with his own spoken-word statements. A meditation on sex, pregnancy and childhood dreams that begs for repeated listens in order to crack its elliptical code.

5. Sweet Life

Ocean places his sunglasses on and becomes the captain of a sumptuous soul cruise, prodding the privileged to reach for more by unraveling their lavish realities. "Why see the world, when you got the beach?" he asks rhetorically.

6. Not Just Money - Another quick interlude that once again ties together the two songs flanking it on the album. In 60 seconds, a woman explains why money it not just money -- it is everything, including happiness.

7. Super Rich Kids (featuring Earl Sweatshirt) - A celebration of excess quickly dissolves into a basic plea for honest emotion, and Ocean's Odd Future mate scoops up some rhymes about reckless driving. The steadiness of the beat is immediately familiar but wholly fresh -- it's like Ocean snatched "Benny and the Jets" and threw the composition down a trap door into another universe.

8. Pilot Jones - Bleary electronic blips soundtrack this ode to a strung-out woman that Ocean can't help but adore. The central concept here is not as fleshed-out as on other "Orange" tracks, but the footprints that do exist are striking.

9. Crack Rock - While the cymbals come to life and twinkling keys inject some gravitas, Ocean delivers a scattershot examination of drugs, corruption, broken homes and gun violence. The ordeal sounds great, but the songwriting is looser than it should be.

10. Pyramids

The centerpiece of "Channel Orange" conjures images of Cleopatra's ancient betrayal before the dream slithers to an end, and an even more dour vision of romance comes into view. The real triumph here is Ocean's song structure: verses and hooks collapse onto each other, rhymes pop up out of nowhere, and the singer acts like minutely balancing a 10-minute concept piece is no big deal.

11. Lost - After the slow burn of "Pyramids," "Lost" offers an unexpected rush of ornate pop -- about a drug-cooking girlfriend, no less. The song shimmies forward in a daze, with Ocean trying to find his love within the seduction of sin.

12. White (featuring John Mayer) - Guitar noodling courtesy of Mr. Mayer can't top the sparkling "White" that already exists on this year's "The Odd Future Tape Vol. 2." At least this one lets the listener catch his or her breath after five straight deep dives.

13. Monks - Combining casual sex with devout religion and setting the shindig at a righteous concert and then a metaphorical jungle, Ocean crams a lot of ideas into a short running time. Parts of "Monks" may not fully work, but the souped-up instrumentation largely covers any lyrical miscues.

14. Bad Religion

The most explicit rumination of Ocean's undefinable sexuality is also the most electric, naked, unmistakably affecting song he has ever made. Ocean's only mistake here is that "Bad Religion" is not the last song on "Channel Orange," because nothing can suitably follow it. An instant classic.

15. Pink Matter (featuring Andre 3000) - Questions abound for Ocean, who lets grandiose ideas roll around in his mind and struggles choosing between sensory pleasure and universal meaning. Andre doesn't necessarily work within Ocean's thematic confines, but his flow bumps against the elastic beat before the song gloriously spirals into oblivion.

16. Forrest Gump - Like Drake's "Practice," Ocean offers a late album track with a distinctly playful concept, likening a crush to the titular hero of "Forrest Gump." When removed from the heaviness of the album around it, the lightweight "Gump" is simple fun with a killer melody -- but, alas, doesn't quite fit with the rest of Ocean's heartfelt compositions here.

17. End - A song that sounds like it's trapped at the bottom of a well, gasping for air before eventually accepting the darkness around it. "You're special… I wish you could see what I see," a female voice offers before the music finally stops for good.

The new RnB has arrived...

princes like a "ACT OF GOD" N another realm.Of all people who might b aliens,angels.if found out prince wasn't of this earth, eye would not b surprised,"What's happening now is the position eye always wanted 2b N, eye was just tryin 2 get here" Says prince
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #1 posted 07/10/12 7:03pm

smoothcriminal
12

avatar

cool

My new album is available HERE: http://itunes.apple.com/a...mpt=uo%3D1
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #2 posted 07/10/12 7:06pm

Gunsnhalen

CO-SIGN

cool cool

Pistols sounded like "Fuck off," wheras The Clash sounded like "Fuck Off, but here's why.."- Thedigitialgardener

Datdonkeydick- Asherfierce
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #3 posted 07/10/12 7:46pm

FnkyManifesto7

avatar

I've known this guys music since last year. This album is great. Many people are saying its as important to RnB as "Miseducation of Lauryn Hill". This albums got slick, nice production and lyrics. A highlight of 2012 so far. cool wink
"YEAH LET ME GET A FRUIT COCKTAIL, I AINT TOO HUNGRY".
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #4 posted 07/10/12 7:57pm

aardvark15

avatar

THE highlight of the 2010's so far and probably for the whole thing. Great production, awesome lyrics, I feel this kid is going to be a star!

"Do Me, Baby...oh, oh, OOOOOOOOOOOH"
"Scandalous I'm talkin' bout u n me"
"Insatiable's my name when it comes 2 u"
"When 2 R N Love their bodies shiver at the mere contemplation of penetration"
"Flesh against flesh, And God Created Woman"
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #5 posted 07/10/12 10:14pm

arX

avatar

Nice production, especially with Sa-Ra's Om'Mas Keith and Pharrell in the mix.

Against the ruin of the world, there
is only one defense: the creative act.


-- Kenneth Rexroth
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #6 posted 07/11/12 1:00am

neonlights

KCOOLMUZIQ said:

The new RnB has arrived...

This isn't R&B. neutral

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #7 posted 07/11/12 1:29am

p4life

Omg! I love Frank ocean his music is amazing I can't stop listening to his new album ! He's my 2nd ( prince being the 1st) fav artist of all time smile
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #8 posted 07/11/12 2:04am

Azz

avatar

neonlights said:

KCOOLMUZIQ said:

The new RnB has arrived...

This isn't R&B. neutral

The young so educated they never grow old.
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #9 posted 07/11/12 2:45am

IstenSzek

avatar

gonna check this album out. those clips sound very good.

and true love lives on lollipops and crisps
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #10 posted 07/11/12 3:27am

smoothcriminal
12

avatar

neonlights said:

KCOOLMUZIQ said:

The new RnB has arrived...

This isn't R&B. neutral

It's been so long since y'all have heard R&B that you don't even know what it is anymore. lol

My new album is available HERE: http://itunes.apple.com/a...mpt=uo%3D1
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #11 posted 07/11/12 3:49am

mancabdriver

He should have put 'Swim good' on the album - maybe as a bonus - that song was my favourite last year.

Also has anybody heard 'try' ? its a sweet r&b song - his most sounding of that genre.

[Edited 7/11/12 3:56am]

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #12 posted 07/11/12 4:21am

AsherFierce

This album is damn near perfect. If any artist can top this for album of the year. I'll be very surprised. music

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #13 posted 07/11/12 5:09am

shorttrini

avatar

Not sold on this cat yet, the jury is still out. I will give it a listen again, when all the hype dies down. Upon my first listen I was like, "okay.... bored. Like I said, I will listen to it again, in a few weeks.

"Love is like peeing in your pants, everyone sees it but only you feel its warmth"
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #14 posted 07/11/12 5:25am

aardvark15

avatar

shorttrini said:

give it a listen again, when all the hype dies


That's not gonna be anytime soon
"Do Me, Baby...oh, oh, OOOOOOOOOOOH"
"Scandalous I'm talkin' bout u n me"
"Insatiable's my name when it comes 2 u"
"When 2 R N Love their bodies shiver at the mere contemplation of penetration"
"Flesh against flesh, And God Created Woman"
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #15 posted 07/11/12 6:01am

shorttrini

avatar

aardvark15 said:

shorttrini said:

give it a listen again, when all the hype dies

That's not gonna be anytime soon

I know....

"Love is like peeing in your pants, everyone sees it but only you feel its warmth"
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #16 posted 07/11/12 7:15am

mjscarousal

avatar

FnkyManifesto7 said:

I've known this guys music since last year. This album is great. Many people are saying its as important to RnB as "Miseducation of Lauryn Hill". This albums got slick, nice production and lyrics. A highlight of 2012 so far. cool wink

eek Many people need to stop smoking eek

Stand, you`ve been sitting much too long, there`s a permanent crease in your right or wrong.~Sly Stone
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #17 posted 07/11/12 7:37am

CynicKill

I've read more then once that it's the most important R&B album since "VooDoo".

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #18 posted 07/11/12 7:43am

mjscarousal

avatar

CynicKill said:

I've read more then once that it's the most important R&B album since "VooDoo".

From critics or from users here?

Stand, you`ve been sitting much too long, there`s a permanent crease in your right or wrong.~Sly Stone
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #19 posted 07/11/12 7:44am

smoothcriminal
12

avatar

mjscarousal said:

CynicKill said:

I've read more then once that it's the most important R&B album since "VooDoo".

From critics or from users here?

I've heard that from critics too.

My new album is available HERE: http://itunes.apple.com/a...mpt=uo%3D1
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #20 posted 07/11/12 11:21am

Gunsnhalen

smoothcriminal12 said:

neonlights said:

This isn't R&B. neutral

It's been so long since y'all have heard R&B that you don't even know what it is anymore. lol

Smooth you know if Neon here's something that does not start with R & end in Kelly it's not R&B lol

Pistols sounded like "Fuck off," wheras The Clash sounded like "Fuck Off, but here's why.."- Thedigitialgardener

Datdonkeydick- Asherfierce
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #21 posted 07/11/12 11:22am

Gunsnhalen

And eh i'll say it, this is for sure one of the most interesting R&B albums since Voodoo for sure. The layers of the music, the storytelling... it reminds me of Voodoo but it's totally it's own thing..

Do your thang Frank cool

Pistols sounded like "Fuck off," wheras The Clash sounded like "Fuck Off, but here's why.."- Thedigitialgardener

Datdonkeydick- Asherfierce
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #22 posted 07/11/12 11:22am

smoothcriminal
12

avatar

Gunsnhalen said:

smoothcriminal12 said:

It's been so long since y'all have heard R&B that you don't even know what it is anymore. lol

Smooth you know if Neon here's something that does not start with R & end in Kelly it's not R&B lol

I figured. lol

My new album is available HERE: http://itunes.apple.com/a...mpt=uo%3D1
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #23 posted 07/11/12 12:09pm

neonlights

Gunsnhalen said:

smoothcriminal12 said:

It's been so long since y'all have heard R&B that you don't even know what it is anymore. lol

Smooth you know if Neon here's something that does not start with R & end in Kelly it's not R&B lol

Love how he stays on your mind all the time.

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #24 posted 07/11/12 12:10pm

neonlights

smoothcriminal12 said:

neonlights said:

This isn't R&B. neutral

It's been so long since y'all have heard R&B that you don't even know what it is anymore. lol

Speak for yourself.

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #25 posted 07/11/12 12:10pm

smoothcriminal
12

avatar

neonlights said:

Gunsnhalen said:

Smooth you know if Neon here's something that does not start with R & end in Kelly it's not R&B lol

Love how he stays on your mind all the time.

He came back.

My new album is available HERE: http://itunes.apple.com/a...mpt=uo%3D1
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #26 posted 07/11/12 12:49pm

Musicslave

Wasn't able to hear "Bad Religion" yet but I like everything I've heard so far. "Pyramids" got me open early this morning! I welcome its musical journey of an uptempo synth groove and interesting storyline. Dude took Queen Cleopatra and desolves her into something altogether different by the 2nd half of the song. I love it cool

Thanks to "SoulAlive" (I Believe?) I've been diggin dude since I first heard the line: "I've been meaning to fuck you in the garden." lol

However, If you're looking for more of a traditional vocalist, Frank might not be for you.

  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #27 posted 07/11/12 12:51pm

Gunsnhalen

neonlights said:

Gunsnhalen said:

Smooth you know if Neon here's something that does not start with R & end in Kelly it's not R&B lol

Love how he stays on your mind all the time.

Bitch hoe you the one who only make's R Threads & pisses on everyone who's not R. Kelly which your ''Marvin Gaye is not as good as kells bullshit'' Lots of thing's are on my mind boo, i got some good booty last night, i'm living a great life. & i'm off work today getting my paycheck. I don't give 2 fucks about your stank ass or R. Kelly much love biggrin

[Edited 7/11/12 12:53pm]

Pistols sounded like "Fuck off," wheras The Clash sounded like "Fuck Off, but here's why.."- Thedigitialgardener

Datdonkeydick- Asherfierce
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #28 posted 07/11/12 12:52pm

Gunsnhalen

Musicslave said:

Wasn't able to hear "Bad Religion" yet but I like everything I've heard so far. "Pyramids" got me open early this morning! I welcome its musical journey of an uptempo synth groove and interesting storyline. Dude took Queen Cleopatra and desolves her into something altogether different by the 2nd half of the song. I love it cool

Thanks to "SoulAlive" (I Believe?) I've been diggin dude since I first heard the line: "I've been meaning to fuck you in the garden." lol

However, If you're looking for more of a traditional vocalist, Frank might not be for you.

Pyramids is fantastic cool it's the song that made me really want to hear the album.

Pistols sounded like "Fuck off," wheras The Clash sounded like "Fuck Off, but here's why.."- Thedigitialgardener

Datdonkeydick- Asherfierce
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #29 posted 07/11/12 12:54pm

smoothcriminal
12

avatar

Gunsnhalen said:

neonlights said:

Love how he stays on your mind all the time.

Bitch hoe you the one who only make's R Threads & pisses on everyone who's not R. Kelly which your ''Marvin Gaye is not as good as kells bullshit'' Lots of thing's are on my mind boo, i got some good booty last night, i'm living a great life. & i'm off work today getting my paycheck. I don't give 2 fucks about your stank ass or R. Kelly much love biggrin

[Edited 7/11/12 12:53pm]

Me =

My new album is available HERE: http://itunes.apple.com/a...mpt=uo%3D1
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Page 1 of 4 1234>
  New topic   Printable     (Log in to 'subscribe' to this topic)
« Previous topic  Next topic »
Forums > Music: Non-Prince > Frank Ocean, 'Channel Orange': Track-By-Track Review