What a difference a weekend makes. Just a few days ago, we were greeted with a visual album from Frank Ocean in the form of a 45-minute stair-building tutorial soundtracked by over a dozen new (albeit short) songs. In almost any other year and for almost any other musician, that would have been enough. The difference is the Frank Ocean factor.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock since the last presidential election (and if that is true, I am very jealous of you), Frank Ocean is the elusive R&B singer behind the instant-classic “Channel Orange” and guest appearances on albums from the upper echelon of current pop music. After four years of waiting, hyping, guessing, snooping, crying, soothsaying and praying, “Blonde” was released to the world this past Saturday night.
If two full-length albums weren’t enough for his thirsty fan base, there was more. The original title of the album, “Boys Don’t Cry,” was transferred to the name of a full print publication that was distributed for free at four pop-up locations over the world. Within that (alongside a poem by Kanye West about McDonald’s food), was the much-heralded second version of the album, “Blond,” containing a slightly different tracklist. If you’re keeping up at home, that’s two and a half new albums, a 45 minute short film and a full-length magazine. Though the official credits haven’t been released yet, a page in “Boys Don’t Cry” credits, among others, The Beatles, David Bowie, Elliott Smith, Pharrell, Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000, Gang of Four, Jamie XX and a whole lot more.
Now, obviously, The Beatles were not in the lab cooking up fire with Frank Ocean. Rather, on one of many album standouts “White Ferrari,” he merely borrows the “Spending each day of the year” line from the classic “Here, There, and Everywhere.”
This is not an album review, and frankly, with an album release of this magnitude, it’s best to not trust any reviews from the first week out, much less the first two days. This is music to spend time with, befriend and make a part of your daily life for at least the foreseeable future. The beauty of the music is immediate, of course, but I suspect that you’ll be rewarded with repeated, deep listening sessions. We’ve been waiting for four years, why wait any longer?
“Blonde” and “Endless” are both located only at Apple Music, presumably for two weeks before taking to the wind and landing on every streaming service known to man.
Where were you when Frank put out “Blonde?”