Channel Orange

  • Record Label: Def Jam
  • Release Date: Jul 17, 2012
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 591 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 36 out of 591

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  1. Mar 23, 2016
    10
    Frank Ocean has one of the most soulful albums this decade. There is an incredible amount of substance and a definite replay factor to Channel Orange. The production is insanely good, and of course he sounds great. An absolute must buy
  2. Jan 24, 2016
    10
    Frank Ocean is airborne, looking around, taking it all in. "Up above the birds, I saw the sky like I never seen before," he whispers on his major-label debut, Channel Orange, as avian chirps surround him. "You thought I was above you." The 24-year-old has quickly proven himself to be among the most gifted singer-songwriters of his generation; he's got the type of voice, wit, charm, smarts,Frank Ocean is airborne, looking around, taking it all in. "Up above the birds, I saw the sky like I never seen before," he whispers on his major-label debut, Channel Orange, as avian chirps surround him. "You thought I was above you." The 24-year-old has quickly proven himself to be among the most gifted singer-songwriters of his generation; he's got the type of voice, wit, charm, smarts, and ineffable humanity that's always hoped for, but never promised. And he's got every reason to think he's above the vividly realized lost souls that slouch, preen, and weep throughout his album. But that's not how Frank Ocean works. His lofty gaze is powerful, but not all-powerful. "What's a god to a non-believer who don't believe in anything?" he sang on Watch the Throne's "No Church in the Wild". He's so good at questioning that answers can't help but bubble up in the wake of his words.
    Along with Ocean's empathy for his characters is a sense of repose-- he's been there, he's weathered it, and he's come away with his Zen-like calm intact. On Channel Orange, this serene deadpan is splashed with crackling emotion, as though he's alternately narrating and starring in his own Magnolia-style cross-wired-heartbreak epic. It's all there on proper opener "Thinkin Bout You", where he battles his own brain while reminiscing about a first love. He tells himself white lies in the verse before flipping to a falsetto that could make D'Angelo sweat for the endless wound of a chorus: "Do you not think so far ahead?/ Cause I've been thinkin bout forever."
    When Ocean dropped an early take of "Thinkin Bout You" on his Tumblr last summer, it was quickly followed by a version from perfectly competent Roc Nation signee Bridget Kelly, who claimed Ocean originally wrote the song for her. The fact that Ocean's take dwarfs Kelly's both artistically as well as in terms of popularity is telling. After languishing as a behind-the-scenes writer for pop stars including Brandy, John Legend, and Justin Bieber, with "Thinkin Bout You" Ocean doubled down on the out-of-nowhere success of his unique and brilliant 2011 mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra., marking his territory as a performer in his own right. And while he's now primarily writing songs for himself, his time toiling in L.A. studios gave him the experience to create a piece as accomplished and varied as Channel Orange, which swings from Stevie-style keyboard breeziness to 1990s bap&B to mystic psych rock to crunching 8-bit funk without thinking twice.
    The "Thinkin Bout You" mix-up was telling for another reason, too. As written, it's by-and-large a unisex composition, and the line, "my eyes don't shed tears, but boy they pour when I'm thinkin bout you," didn't seem especially revealing since Ocean wrote the song for a woman. In light of the letter he published earlier this month, in which he stated that his first love, at age 19, was with a man, that line-- and others on the album-- gains some personal and historical context. For a culture that accurately prides itself on sonic progression, hip-hop and R&B can be woefully conservative when it comes to sexuality. This is changing, and Frank Ocean is helping it to change, and if his revelation inspires others to understand themselves or the world more fully, then that could be one of Channel Orange's finest legacies. But it will not be the album's only legacy.
    Aside from its bravery, Ocean's letter was, in itself, stunningly written. Its beautiful ambiguities had people reacting with sensational headlines, and then amending those sensational headlines, and then thinking about how and why they personally reacted to such sensational headlines. More questions; more answers. After realizing he was in love with a man, Ocean "reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager. the ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend for the first time. I realized they were written in a language I did not yet speak." And, whether consciously or not, Channel Orange's language is admirably-- and skillfully-- inclusive. Rather than getting listeners to comb through the lyrics for certain words or references, Ocean mixes things up so well-- and coats the entire affair with heavy doses of disorienting surreality-- that petty pronoun policing is rendered completely useless as deeper meanings reveal themselves at the same time.
    While pop is currently in the golden age of exacting self-reflection-- an often beguiling phenomenon spurred on by the internet's infinite mirror-- Ocean is interested in a more selfless pursuit. "As a lifestyle, you always being the focal point is innately unhealthy," Ocean recently told The New York Times. "I like the anonymity that directors can have about their films. Even though it's my voice, I'm a storyteller." Those tales are as wide-ranging as they are engrossing, always benefitting from Ocean's eye for detail and specificity. There are sly California class observations in the vein of Joan Didion or Randy Newman, wher
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  3. Jan 2, 2016
    10
    With a slither of hindsight, this is un-doubtfully, the most beautiful album of the decade thus far. Lonerism, MBDTF, and Bon Iver's Sophomore are all lurking, but to create something as masterfully written, delivered and blended to this degree is the separation point. His distinctive factor, is his literature. It's a known fact that Ocean was a songwriter long before his debut projectWith a slither of hindsight, this is un-doubtfully, the most beautiful album of the decade thus far. Lonerism, MBDTF, and Bon Iver's Sophomore are all lurking, but to create something as masterfully written, delivered and blended to this degree is the separation point. His distinctive factor, is his literature. It's a known fact that Ocean was a songwriter long before his debut project Nostalgia,Ultra (2011), penning for the likes of Justin Bieber and a variety of other pop stars, but his own ascension is a tale of confusion, frustration and denial. He wrote most of the 'concept' pieces on this album to distract himself from his faltering reality, to go to happier places, and in turn, he took us on the mystical journey too. Expand
  4. Oct 18, 2015
    7
    Frank Ocean is an outstanding writer and a great vocalist. Many of the tracks on Channel Orange are sexy and have many layers to them. This album's well done.
  5. Oct 6, 2015
    10
    This album is just beautiful and relatable on so many levels. Frank Ocean is an amazing soul and while channel ORANGE can be considered "fake deep" or corny at some points, it still works out in the end to being one of the best debut albums I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Would I say people overrate it because of him coming out right before the release? Yes but do I think thatThis album is just beautiful and relatable on so many levels. Frank Ocean is an amazing soul and while channel ORANGE can be considered "fake deep" or corny at some points, it still works out in the end to being one of the best debut albums I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Would I say people overrate it because of him coming out right before the release? Yes but do I think that takes away from the music itself? Of course not. The fantastic blend of R&B, neo-soul and psychedelia production makes channel very easy listening for an album with such dark and moody themes. In short, channel ORANGE is a masterpiece of music.
    Best Songs: Pyramids, Pink Matter & Sweet Life
    10/10
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  6. Oct 5, 2015
    8
    This man is unbelievably versatile.. #OFWGKTA
  7. Jun 3, 2015
    10
    Channel Orange (the debut album by Frank Ocean) is one the best album of this era. Every song is great and there is no reason to ever hit the skip button. Listening to it is like having the best dream of your life. Kudos to Ocean and I can't wait for his new album.
  8. Apr 29, 2015
    9
    Pretending to be able to fully review this album in a few lines would be an insult to music as a form of art. This neo-soul, PR&B, jazz whatever album puts Frank Ocean on top of his own pyramid. Its title is a reference to grapheme–color synaesthesia, its songs are about life, religion, lust, love, sex and much more. There are so many details on this sonically unconventional andPretending to be able to fully review this album in a few lines would be an insult to music as a form of art. This neo-soul, PR&B, jazz whatever album puts Frank Ocean on top of his own pyramid. Its title is a reference to grapheme–color synaesthesia, its songs are about life, religion, lust, love, sex and much more. There are so many details on this sonically unconventional and substantial material, it’s hard to find a flaw. Perfectly mastered voice, insanely great jams and profound mind studies. It can be catchy without ever being too simple, very sentimental without manipulating. It’s a subtle movie, but unlike Life after Death, this one is closer to Kubrick more than Scorsese style. The first tracks feel almost a bit lighter than the final ones but the album is a masterpiece overall and no other artist was able to top this in 2012.

    Best track: Pyramids
    Exact Score: 9.5
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  9. Mar 11, 2015
    10
    When I first listened to "Thinkin Bout You", Frank Ocean's voice trapped me. It was uncommonly beautiful and the album that contained one of the best songs of 2012 was even better. 'Channel Orange" is probably as great as R&B in these days can get.
  10. Nov 1, 2014
    10
    A beautiful album that explores many different dimensions, what makes it mostly beautiful is Frank Ocean who isn't afraid to dig inside those dimensions and along the way makes the listeners dig into them as well.
  11. Oct 28, 2014
    10
    Best album of 2012. And probably one of the best albums of all time. Really! It's amazing. Frank's style is amazing. The beats are awesome, the lyrics is very smart. This album takes you to California, Los Angeles. While you're listening to the album there are no clouds in the sky. And you're sitting on a chair on the street and... just enjoying the flaming sun.

    And it has a very
    Best album of 2012. And probably one of the best albums of all time. Really! It's amazing. Frank's style is amazing. The beats are awesome, the lyrics is very smart. This album takes you to California, Los Angeles. While you're listening to the album there are no clouds in the sky. And you're sitting on a chair on the street and... just enjoying the flaming sun.

    And it has a very original and creative thing. This album is a channel. He is changing channels all the time and... he can't find a channel where he isn't there.

    He did this thing in his mixtape too. In '2011' with "nostalgia,ULTRA."

    He is talking a lot about his past too.

    In "Thinikn' Bout You' he admitted the he has fall in love once with a guy when he was 19.

    And there's an epic 10 minute song too. "Pyramids" That song is amazing! One of the best lyrics that I've ever heard. It's separated for two parts. And between them there are sounds that helps the first part fade into the second.

    The lyrics are describing the place and the situation where Frank is. It's beautiful.

    It takes you to Egypt.. and to a strip club called "The Pyramid" in the middle of the desert.

    And the word "Pyramid" has a lot of meanings too.

    This is an amazing R&B/Neo Soul album.
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  12. Jul 26, 2014
    9
    This album does a fine job in both music production and lyric production as well. My favorite track of the album has got to be Super Rich Kids. I would recommend anyone to listen to this album.
  13. May 19, 2014
    8
    wow this album is great track after track frank delivers great vocals and interesting topics. this album doesn't lack at all production is great very catchy songs of this, some of my favourites are bad religion,super rich kids,and lost there just a few every track on this album is well done nothing felled rushed. very impressed with franks debut album.
  14. May 11, 2014
    10
    Channel Orange - what an amazing album.
    Frank Ocean has given some beautiful songs like Forrest Gump, Lost, Thinking 'bout you, Pyramids.
    The album has a very distinct essence unlike other mainstream contemporary albums.
    A must listen. 10/10
  15. Nov 26, 2013
    8
    NOTE: An 8 from me means I really liked it. I don't toss 10s around.

    The last album I listened to was Vampire Weekend's sophomore release, Contra, an excellent album, but which was bursting with lyrical content about anything and everything, whether it was Nicaragua, The Clash, old video games, or the breakup it was actually supposed to be about. Frank Ocean has interesting lyrical
    NOTE: An 8 from me means I really liked it. I don't toss 10s around.

    The last album I listened to was Vampire Weekend's sophomore release, Contra, an excellent album, but which was bursting with lyrical content about anything and everything, whether it was Nicaragua, The Clash, old video games, or the breakup it was actually supposed to be about. Frank Ocean has interesting lyrical content throughout this album as well, but it's much more concentrated on the theme. I can tell that this record overall was inspired by the homosexual relationship described in his "open letter", but he also goes into other relevant parts of his life and past, like being filthy rich and dealing with his unrequited first love. I've yet to understand whatever the hell is going on in "Pink Matter", though.

    This is musically an inferior album to Contra, though. While I do love the beats on tracks like "Thinkin Bout You", "Super Rich Kids", and "Lost", it's just not up to par on songs like "Sierra Leone", "Pilot Jones", and "Monks". I guess you could call it a "meh" album in this regard, because it is. This could possibly be my album of the year 2012 if it were better this way.

    But as a whole? Yeah, this album's pretty excellent. In spite of what I said earlier about its inconsistent production quality, that matters not too much because this is a lyric-based LP. And its good tracks can be extremely good, especially in the case of "Pyramids", very likely my favorite song of 2012 (although I'm well aware that I'm not the only one who thinks this, this is generally hailed as a modern classic). "Pyramids" is just one of those songs where you just have to take a step back and bask in its awesomeness. It's no epic, extended crescendo; it's not "Stairway to Heaven", it's not "Bohemian Rhapsody", it's not "Won't Get Fooled Again". It doesn't even follow the model of modern long songs like Green Day's "Jesus of Suburbia", LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends", or Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around... Comes Around". It's completely different thing altogether, an entity unto itself. I don't think there's any song I've heard before that I can compare it to, which earns it even more respect than I already give it.

    It's also worth noting that Frank is an excellent singer, and his vocal ability is especially pronounced on songs like "Pyramids" and "Thinkin Bout You", actually my two favorite songs from the album. But like the former song, I can't think of anyone it reminds me of. When I hear the voice on a Frank Ocean song, I'll easily be able to recognize it as his.

    STANDOUT TRACKS: THINKIN BOUT YOU, SWEET LIFE, SUPER RICH KIDS, PYRAMIDS, LOST, WHITE, BAD RELIGION, FORREST GUMP
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  16. Nov 24, 2013
    10
    brings peace. Beautiful composition. This is a classic that I recently discovered after going on odd future' website and downloading nostalgia/Ultra. Very strong debut from Ocean and I expect more great things from him in the hopefully near future. Highlights include "Thinkin Bout You", "Super Rich Kids", and "Pyramids".
  17. Sep 5, 2013
    8
    A smooth, beautiful album featuring Frank's vocal and stylistic range that tells a Los Angeles love story and all the complications involved, from lack of mutualistic attraction to surprisingly falling in love with another man.
  18. Aug 3, 2013
    8
    Has it's gems, would give it an 8.5 if i could, but its not up there enough for me to give it a 9, has great tracks like Thinkin bout you, Pyramids, Super Rich Kids, Pink Matter,Forrest Gump, definitely worth a listen.
  19. Jul 19, 2013
    10
    Definitely a masterpiece. It is one of the best albums I've heard in my life. While it begins in a simple, as the songs go by, it gradually becomes more complex. Frank Ocean knows how to make you addicted to him music, knows how to make a perfect album from start to finish
  20. Jul 14, 2013
    10
    Frank Ocean's "Channel Orange" is a musical marvel in comparison to a majority of the music on the market these days. Each track does a excellent job of not only sounding spectacular but also portraying powerful and emotional narratives. It stands out in the modern music industry as an avant-garde collection of stories portrayed through excellent music.
  21. Jun 21, 2013
    10
    Emotional, raw, deep, and lyricism at its finest, Frank Ocean delivers on "channel ORANGE," making it one of the best albums in recent memory. The album as a whole serves as commentary, but the smooth manner bombining many genres of music together in which Ocean explores his issues makes the listen all the more enjoyable. Even the tracks "Start" and "End," which can be described asEmotional, raw, deep, and lyricism at its finest, Frank Ocean delivers on "channel ORANGE," making it one of the best albums in recent memory. The album as a whole serves as commentary, but the smooth manner bombining many genres of music together in which Ocean explores his issues makes the listen all the more enjoyable. Even the tracks "Start" and "End," which can be described as sound bites, are enjoyable in the context of the full album. By the end, Ocean's album will have you wanting more. Expand
  22. Jun 14, 2013
    8
    A bit too much filler on this thing, but the vast majority of this album is a beautiful. A tad overrated as some of the tracks just aren't that compelling. The production is definitely unique though
  23. Jun 2, 2013
    10
    Best of the best albums of 2012, Channel Orange is the spearhead of the next R'n'B generation. Diversity & idiosyncrasy of the album combined with the ability to make the music accessible without taking many spins & plays made it the most beautiful record of 2012. From the sentimental "Thinking About You" to the bourgeois-esque "Super Rich Kids", Frank somehow managed to make every trackBest of the best albums of 2012, Channel Orange is the spearhead of the next R'n'B generation. Diversity & idiosyncrasy of the album combined with the ability to make the music accessible without taking many spins & plays made it the most beautiful record of 2012. From the sentimental "Thinking About You" to the bourgeois-esque "Super Rich Kids", Frank somehow managed to make every track on this album to become an album-single-material (yes even "Start" and "Fertilizer"). Highlight of highlight tracks: Lost, Pyramids, Monks, Thinking About You, Super Rich Kids, Crack Rock. Expand
  24. Apr 18, 2013
    10
    Through R&B swing and smooth colored pop, Frank Ocean pours out the love within his soulful heart and creates a modern day masterpiece for all past and future generations to intake and compare to all the other music that has long past its halls of reigning.
  25. Apr 16, 2013
    10
    When it's good, it's amazing, but there are few moments of the album that are hollow and therefore not deserving of a 10. However, that shouldn't take away from the fact that this is a 9.
  26. Apr 9, 2013
    8
    It does get repetitive, but that's the style he was going for. He is a great singer and this album was produced like a Kanye album! This album had a perfect mix of R & B and Pop.
  27. Mar 30, 2013
    10
    Let's get something straight. A lot of the negatives that I see on Channel ORANGE have to do with the pacing of the individual tracks and the lack of originality and creativity. Well, these are the understandable negatives.

    This is not an album to fit into traditional R&B. You're not going to be twerking to Frank Ocean's Channel ORANGE. No, most likely you'll be slightly bobbin your
    Let's get something straight. A lot of the negatives that I see on Channel ORANGE have to do with the pacing of the individual tracks and the lack of originality and creativity. Well, these are the understandable negatives.

    This is not an album to fit into traditional R&B. You're not going to be twerking to Frank Ocean's Channel ORANGE. No, most likely you'll be slightly bobbin your head thinking of another place in another time, doing something else. More than music that's straight forward, Frank's voice has the ability—along with the thought-provoking beats—to whack you away from the immediate story at hand. That's what has been happening to me no that I've played the album more than 150 times. That's what happens when the pacing is what it is. It's not really a negative because it's not an ignorant mistake. The pacing was purposefully chosen. Nobody has to like it, but if this isn't the kind of music you like, how can you rate it?

    As for creativity, this album dives into this individual's experiences as a young man. Not everybody is different. In fact, we're more the same than most want to believe. Is Frank the first person to go through what he's gone through? No, but Frank brings his unbelievably descriptive and metaphorical language to paint stories that I feel go right over a lot of listeners' heads. It's like calling Faulkner bad writer because he didn't like to mess with punctuation.

    By now, I've mentioned what I like about Channel Orange by diving into some critiques on the album. My favorite tracks are Thinkin' Bout You, Sierra Leone, Super Rich Kids, Pilot Jones, Crack Rock, Bad Religion, Pink Matter, Forest Gump, End (Voodoo).
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  28. Mar 30, 2013
    10
    this album is incredible. give it a few listens before you declare it a masterpiece, i did and it changed my view on this album. sierra leone is a masterpiece, every song on the album is great. it's recomended to listen to this album while you're in love
  29. Mar 3, 2013
    9
    Definitely my album of 2012 and essential listening for anyone who is interested in hearing what R&B can be in this age where the genre has largely been condemned to the toilets of 'da club'. Reeking of poor song-writing, flooded with offensive sentiments and overproduction which is spilled over by the proverbial urinal cake of auto-tune. Instead, Frank Ocean has produced a clever andDefinitely my album of 2012 and essential listening for anyone who is interested in hearing what R&B can be in this age where the genre has largely been condemned to the toilets of 'da club'. Reeking of poor song-writing, flooded with offensive sentiments and overproduction which is spilled over by the proverbial urinal cake of auto-tune. Instead, Frank Ocean has produced a clever and catchy album which not only showcases his impressive (and super soulful) vocal abilities but also his smart strongly metaphorical and satirical style as a lyricist. Unfortunately for me, his album was tainted by moments of self-indulgence in the form of the many 'filler' tracks amongst the 'real' songs which overstepped the line from inspired quirkiness into pretentiousness. Despite that, there are just so many fantastic tracks such as 'Lost', 'Super Rich Kids' and 'Forrest Gump', however 'Sweet Life' is the stand out track for me. Expand
  30. Feb 15, 2013
    10
    Every track in this album is outstandingly strong, each song telling its own story. However, not only are there so many solid tracks, as an album each track compliments each other. The darker tracks, such as Pink matter, blend perfectly with the more brighter, happier songs such as Forrest Gump to make a brilliant and complete album.
Metascore
92

Universal acclaim - based on 46 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 46
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 46
  3. Negative: 0 out of 46
  1. Uncut
    Sep 14, 2012
    80
    Sumptuous and sprawling, his major label debut comfortably backs up the hype. [Oct 2012, p.86]
  2. Q Magazine
    Aug 20, 2012
    80
    While Ocean's artistic ambition is impressive, it's his haunting candour that really casts a spell. [Sep 2012, p.106]
  3. Mojo
    Aug 8, 2012
    80
    [A] rich and complex album. [Sep 2012, p.95]