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Orange is used to symbolize vitality and endurance; wonder if Frank Ocean knew this when he named his debut R&B studio album Channel Orange. Frank Ocean hails from the city of New Orleans. Even though this is Ocean’s first studio album, he is not new to the music industry. Ocean has been a ghostwriter for artists like Brandy, Justin Bieber, and John Legend. Ocean also had a mix tape that came out last year named Nostalgia, Ultra. While listening to this album one will get transformed to another place, that place would be the mind of Frank Ocean.
Channel Orange is also a play off the name of movie director Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange. Ocean mentions Kubrick in his 2011 song Novocane off of his mix tape Nostalgia, Ultra. But anyways back to Channel Orange, which is made up of 17 thought provoking songs. These songs one by one give insight into Ocean’s mind. Orange opens with an interlude ironically labeled Start. Then comes the catchy radio single Thinkin Bout You, which is probably the most traditional R&B song on this album. Fertilizer, which is track three, has a retro vibe to it that reminds me of a 1970’s sitcom theme music or a 1970’s commercial jingle. Sweet Life, track five, talks about people who are living the good, wealthy life but don’t appreciate it saying “why see the world, when you got the beach”. Then piggybacking on the theme of Sweet Life with a thumping piano or bass in the background Super Rich Kids, talks about what, well of course rich kids with according to Ocean, “nothing but loose ends and fake friends”. Pyramids, track ten, has a Michael Jackson techno vibe, that talks about a women named Cleopatra and her antics.
The latter half of the album gets a tad more personal. With the song Bad Religion, track fourteen, he has a taxi cab confession moment about one of his relationships saying “I can never make him love me”. This song has a somber vibe with what sounds like an organ in the background at the beginning, almost like a funeral procession. Then the song Forrest Gump, track sixteen, which is Ocean thinking about another past relationship saying “You run my mind boy”. Both songs confirming he has been in a same sex relationship, which he has received some negative press about recently. So let’s back track a bit, track fifteen, Pink Matter, with its sexy lyrics, and sexy guitar has a guest appearance by Andre 3000, which is one of the few guest appearances on this album. Then ironically of course the album ends with the track seventeen labeled End.
Overall Channel Orange is not the typical R&B album. From its retro and techno vibes, to its somber organ and sexy electric guitar, there are elements of this album to tingle the imagination. There are no club bangers, so if that is what you are looking for you will be disappointed. If you are looking for lyrically arousing songs, then you need this album in your life.