Channel Orange Review

By Sierra Bobzien

Odd Future member and R&B singer Frank Ocean recently released his first album on a major label, Channel Orange. It received over 130,000 digital downloads in the first week of its digital release, a week before the actual CD was in stores. Ocean managed this with only two of his songs from the album, “Thinkin’ Bout You” and “Lost”, consistently playing on the radio. Not only was this Frank Ocean’s first album in stores and on iTunes, but a week before its release he shared something very personal, and something that took guts to admit, especially when you’re growing to be known as a successful solo music artist in a genre often perceived as being homophobic. He released a letter in which he revealed that his first love was a person of the same sex. Not only was it a confession, but also a thank you to his first love for providing him with inspiration for many of his songs. The songs “Bad Religion” and ‘Forrest Gump” seem like they may have drawn inspiration from this man; both address a male love interest and evoke themes of unrequited love and deep infatuation similar to those which Ocean touched upon in his letter. The majority of the other songs are addressed to female love interests, such as the excellent and deeply philosophical “Pink Matter”, which features a wonderful guest verse by Andre 3000.

As far as the album itself goes, I am completely in love with it. There is a tremendous amount of intellectual depth and emotional beauty to each song, the lyrics are thoughtful and brilliantly worded, Ocean’s singing is often moving, the beats and melodies flow well and are varied in style, and the songs all last for just the right amount of time. The epic “Pyramids” stands out among the other songs of the album with its nearly 10 minute running time and ambiguously mythical lyrics, which transition from a narrative set in Ancient Egypt to a present-day story involving pimps and sex workers. The one-two punch of “Sweet Life” and “Super Rich Kids” vividly describes the decadence and spiritual emptiness of the Southern Californian notion of “the good life”. Overall, the album has quickly become one of my favorite recent releases, and I believe I’m not the only one who thinks this.

The album recently placed #2 on Billboard’s list and has become a major album in R&B culture. The album and Ocean’s coming out also represent a kind of resolution to Odd Future in regards to accusations of the group being homophobic. It should also be noted that, prior to Ocean’s announcement, the group already had an openly lesbian member. Also, Frank Ocean has greatly expanded his fanbase with this album and has become a highly-respected figure in the entertainment industry as well as an inspirational figure to the gay community for having the courage to come out. Channel Orange has put Ocean on the road to becoming a musical sensation; not only did he put great music into a C.D, he also put his emotions, heart, personal life, and secrets into it as well. His sincerity, humor, talent, depth of feeling, honesty and intelligence have helped to create an album that anyone can relate to. If that doesn’t make a great album, I don’t know what does.
Featured Tracks of Channel Orange
1. Start
2. Thinkin Bout You
3. Fertilizer
4. Sierra Leone
5. Sweet Life
6. Not Just Money
7. Super Rich Kids (Feat. Earl Sweatshirt)
8. Pilot Jones
9. Crack Rock
10. Pyramids
11. Lost
12. White (Feat. John Mayer)
13. Monks
14. Bad Religion
15. Pink Matter (Feat. Andre 3000)
16. Forrest Gump
17. End