- Summary: Love and life in Los Angeles is the theme of the debut release on Def Jam for Frank Ocean, who earlier this month posted online the liner notes for this album describing a relationship he had with a man.
- Record Label: Def Jam
- Genre(s): R&B
- More Details and Credits »
Positive: 46 out of 46
Mixed: 0 out of 46
Negative: 0 out of 46
Aug 6, 2012Despite its faults, Channel ORANGE still marks Frank Ocean out as an intriguing and exciting artist. It's a contradiction in many ways: a far-from-perfect album that suggests a long and prosperous career; an artist without an exceptional voice who looks like he will instead become an exceptional voice.
Mar 11, 2015When I first listened to "Thinkin Bout You", Frank Ocean's voice trapped me. It was uncommonly beautiful and the album that contained one ofWhen 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.… Expand
Jan 24, 2016Frank 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 hisFrank 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… Expand
Jul 19, 2012Songs on this album are like pieces of puzzle! Just like his open letter, now many hate on this guy more than ever. channel ORANGE is arguablySongs on this album are like pieces of puzzle! Just like his open letter, now many hate on this guy more than ever. channel ORANGE is arguably Album of the Year.… Expand
Aug 9, 2012This album is nothing short of amazing.
Not immediately - it takes a while to fully appreciate.
There are little details in the productionThis album is nothing short of amazing.
Not immediately - it takes a while to fully appreciate.
There are little details in the production that are almost subliminal - people talking quietly in the distance, the sound of a woman turned on, etc. These details make the music exciting and rewarding to keep coming back to.
The style is so inventive - Ocean takes you on a journey similar to what I would think of Pink Floyd doing.
This music makes me so thoughtful and reflective - his emotions pour out in nearly all the songs. Favorites are Lost, Bad Religion, Thinkin Bout You and Forrest Gump. The whole album, however slow, possibly cliched and wandering at times, is an emotional and enthralling journey I would recommend to anyone with an open mind. I've been listening to Channel Orange nonstop.… Expand
Jan 29, 2013Demonios, la publicidad es poderosa, y aunque no soy fan de este genero, (Fan de Mr. oizo, Autechre, etc.)
me parece un album que funciona,Demonios, la publicidad es poderosa, y aunque no soy fan de este genero, (Fan de Mr. oizo, Autechre, etc.)
me parece un album que funciona, gracias a la maravillosa voz de Ocean. Tiene gran profundidad la musica, la produccion es impecable con una calidad excelente. Pero no todo es color de rosa en este disco, que a mi parecer esta un poco sobrevalorado gracias a la reciente confesion de la bisexualidad de Frank O.
Los temas que toca son repetitivos y sus letras no tan profundas como su calificacion sugiere. El "AMOR" abarca un 90% de su album, y cansa un poco lo mismo en todas las canciones.
Si bien no es para comprarlo, una escuchada claro que vale la pena.… Expand
Sep 11, 2012This style of music leaves me scratching my head. Maybe it is good, but for the life of me, I've tried, and I can't figure out why anyoneThis style of music leaves me scratching my head. Maybe it is good, but for the life of me, I've tried, and I can't figure out why anyone would think so… Expand
Published: January 8, 2013After weeks of voting, we finally have the results of our annual poll. Find out which movies, games, TV shows, albums, and songs ranked among our users' favorites (as well as the most overrated) of 2012.
Published: December 4, 2012Over the next two months (as we do every year), we'll collect the individual year-end Top Ten lists published by over 100 major music critics, websites, and other publications. Check back daily, as we'll update the overall standings whenever new lists are published.
Awards & Rankings
|Metal Box [Super Deluxe Edition] - Public Image Ltd.|
|The Early Years 1967-1972 [Box Set] - Pink Floyd|
|A Crow Looked at Me - Mount Eerie|
|Singles: The Definitive 45's Collection - Sun Ra|
|Live at the Whisky a Go Go: The Complete Recordings - Otis Redding|
|Box [Box Set] - Gas|
|The 1966 Live Recordings [Box Set] - Bob Dylan|
|You Want It Darker - Leonard Cohen|
|We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service - A Tribe Called Quest|
|Eternity, In Your Arms - Creeper|
|The Order of Time - Valerie June|
|A Seat at the Table - Solange|
|Fuzzy Logic [20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] - Super Furry Animals|
|50 Song Memoir - Magnetic Fields|
|American Band - Drive-By Truckers|
|Obituary - Obituary|
|Black America Again - Common|
|Run the Jewels 3 - Run the Jewels|
|Kodama - Alcest|
|Forever - Code Orange|