IN THE WORDS OF OTHERS: BLONDE
WRITTEN BY KARAN TELI
A year ago today, the 1502 day wait was finally over. After years of snippets, promotional tracks and fake tracklists, along with teasers stating that the album would actually be coming July 2015 and then November 2015 and then July 2016, Blonde (formally titled Boys Don’t Cry) was finally here. The album was released on all streaming platforms, but it was the 4 Pop-Up shops around the world giving away free copies of the Boys Don’t Cry Magazine, which includes a McDonald’s inspired poem by Kanye West, an interview with Lil B, a list of Franks 100 favourite songs and a preview of A$AP Rocky’s internet history that was truly creative and unique.
As the year went on praise of the album continued; from publications and critics, many of whom classified Blonde as one of 2016’s best albums and stated that Nikes and Nights are 2 of the years best songs, a statement I whole heartedly agree with (I’ll even add in Self Control and Seigfried).
Throughout the past year, many of Frank’s peers, along with other influential names in the entertainment industry have chimed in on the greatness and effect on Blonde and Frank’s music in general:
Kendrick Lamar – In an interview with Billboard, it was revealed after an entire day of listening exclusively to Blonde on the day of its release, a studio session between Lamar, Sounwave and DJ Dahi led to ‘YAH’, one of the silkier, smoother and best songs from DAMN.
Lorde – The pop singer stated that Blonde allows her, along with every other R&B and Pop singer to ‘do whatever they want in terms of instrumentation’, which is something she clearly did on her album Melodrama. Lorde also stated that her music is now in a ‘Post-Blonde landscape’, meaning that the sounds and structure of Blonde have allowed her to approach music completely differently.
Kanye West – Ye tweeted that if the people at radio truly love music, they will pick their favourite song from Blonde and play it 10 times in a row ‘for the music culture’. He also made to point to say that both he and Drake, 2 of music most influential artists are avid Frank Ocean fans and that it would be shameful for the Grammys not to award Frank for Blonde. Of course, this was before we found out Frank didn’t even put the album up for Grammy consideration.
Brad Pitt – In the midst of the superstars divorce, GQ Magazine asked him what he’s been listening too that helps him get through what’s clearly a hard time. His reply ‘I’ve been listening to a lot of Frank Ocean. I find this young man so special. Talk about getting to the raw truth. I can’t find a bad one’. A few months later, bromance was taken to a whole new level when Brad Pitt appeared on stage with Frank Ocean while he performed Close To You, one of Blonde’s most emotional songs.
Kehlani – When asked in Genius’s ’10 for 10′ the last song she listened to, the R&B star replied ‘something from Blonde, I just had that banging in the headphones. I’m a Frank Ocean Stan’.
Stormzy – UK’s very own Grime superstar tweeted days after Blonde’s release that ‘Frank Ocean might just be the greatest songwriter of the generation’. In an interview, he stated that the song writing on Blonde influenced his own Gang Signs and Prayer and that when he saw Frank Ocean in early 2017, he told him he’s the ‘greatest on the planet’. On top of all that, in his 1Xtra Live Lounge Session, Stormzy covered Godspeed, one of Blonde’s most stripped down and vocal driven songs.
Ariana Grande – During the superstar’s Dangerous Woman Tour in 2017, she told fans she was about to cover ‘one of her favourite songs of last year’ then proceeded to sing Blonde’s Pink + White.
Playboi Carti – Carti says he was actually in the studio during the making of Nights, stating that the song is ‘deadass the song I play every time a bitch comes to the crib’.
Tyler, The Creator – Even though Channel Orange is critically acclaimed as a classic album, in an interview last month with Zane Lowe, Tyler expressed ‘Blonde is so sick. I always tell Frank I like that shit way more than Channel Orange. The looseness of structure and the chords and shit on Blonde speaks to me more than Channel Orange.
There’s so much more praise;
Artists and producers Calvin Harris,, A-Trak, One Republic and Theophilous London, Talk Show hosts Trevor Noah and Jimmy Fallon and Actors Zac Efron and Ruby Rose have all expressed their love for Blonde in the past year.
As time goes on, I expect the impact and influence of Blonde will continue to grow, because even now, a whole 365 days after it was released to the world, I play it like it was released yesterday and it still sounds so fresh.