The voice of a generation: The Review’s staff reflects on their favorite Frank Ocean songs

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Elizabeth deBrabander/THE REVIEW
The Review’s staff reflects on our favorite Frank Ocean songs.

In honor of the recent release of the first Frank Ocean single since 2017, “DHL,” staffers discuss their favorite songs by the influential artist. In all narratives, it is evident that Ocean is a voice of a generation who has significant meaning to every person for varying reasons.

1.“White Ferrari” | Bianca Thiruchittampalam, Managing Mosaic Editor

“I’m sure we’re taller in another dimension/ You say we’re small and not worth the mention.”

“White Ferrari” was one of the first songs my younger sister played for me in a campaign to get me into Frank Ocean, and I adore it. Subtle and beautifully heartbreaking, this song evokes long, late-night drives on backroads and the cathartic yet melancholic feeling of letting go of someone or something you have loved deeply.

2. “Seigfried” | Edward Benner, Music and Society Editor

“Dreaming a thought that could dream about a thought/ That could think of the dreamer that thought/ That could think of dreaming and getting a glimmer of God”

The song “Seigfried” is one of the many tracks on “Blonde” that stopped me dead in my tracks and has been carried with me since its release. The song pits Ocean against himself, grappling with the pressure to settle and the expectation that age and experience will bring constancy. Much of my transition into adulthood was marked by feeling alienated and confused about my emotions, my life trajectory, my ability to love, and my faith. In this song, I found some semblance of solidarity that my plight wasn’t mutually exclusive and that getting older did not require me to have all the answers.

3. “UNITY” | Evan Tridone, Senior Reporter

“U-N-I-T-Y, Neptunes and peace signs / Chiraq, Palestine like / Iberville 1995 / You’d think there was airstrikes on outside”

The album “Endless” arrived a couple of days before “Blonde”, and was subsequently lost in the mania ensuing its counterpart. However, “Endless” can be considered as good if not better than “Blonde.” I own a vinyl copy of the record, and is one of the few versions available with studio quality mixes of the tracks. All other versions found on the internet are ripped from the visuals, in which the songs were solely available for over a year. “UNITY” is one of the high points on the record, blending rap and soulful singing in a way unlike any other track in Ocean’s discography. The song includes vocals about his upbringing, casual sex and other vague references to god knows what. Then, Ocean seamlessly transitions into some of the most powerful singing in his discography. If you can find “Endless,” give it a listen. And then listen again.

4. “Solo” | Leighton Trimarco, Copy Editor

“There’s a bull and a matador dueling in the sky/ Inhale, in hell there’s heaven/ Oh, oh oh, oh/ Oh, oh, oh oh”

While it’s near impossible to pinpoint my “favorite” Frank Ocean song, this track is most definitely in the running. “Solo” fits in seamlessly with the larger theme on “Blonde” about the duality and complexities of life, and here Ocean tells a beautiful story of being alone, growing into independence and loving yourself. From the organ instrumentals and gospel vibes to Ocean’s moving lyrics and stunning vocals (the “Oh’s” at the end get me every time), this whole song emanates an inexplicable, angelic aura.

5. “Godspeed” | Alexis Carel, Managing News Editor

“You look down on where you came from sometimes/ But you’ll have this place to call home always”

My relationship with Frank Ocean began when “channel ORANGE” dropped right before I started high school. I knew him as the quiet, reserved member of Odd Future, the raucous gang of 20-somethings that had teenagers across the globe scratching “OFWGKTA” all over their desks and antagonizing the norm, whatever that was at the time. “channel ORANGE” and, consequently, “Blonde”, simply shocked me while simultaneously drawing me in further to Ocean’s mastery. I heard the latter album, and therefore “Godspeed,” for the first time under perfect conditions: barely a week before I entered college, laying on the grass with my friends, lamenting what was to come and what was to pass. This song illustrates leaving someone (or more abstractly, something) you loved behind without bitterness. It’s essentially a proper send-off, and I think it’s fair that listeners take it any way they wish, whether it be for a former lover, a previous home or even for a family member they felt tethered to. You’ll have this place to call home, always.

6. “Chanel” | Kayleen Aures, Photographer and Illustrator

“Twelve treat a n—a like he twelve, how you lookin up to me and talking down/ Can’t you see I am the big man, God level I am the I AM”

I really like this song because the ups and downs in the way he sings makes it really fun to sing along to and the lyrics are really powerful to me. I really like the way that he confronts a very controversial topic in today’s environment, and in my mind, I think of black men and boys singing along to this lyric and getting a sense of empowerment that while the world can treat them a certain way, they are still powerful in their own right.

7. “Provider” | Jan Castro, Senior Reporter

“Show me the wisdom in your movement/ Show me some wisdom in your movement”

I was debating picking a song off of “Endless,” like a true, die-hard Frank Ocean stan, but I think “Provider” would be the more sincere choice. When the single was first released in 2017, I wasn’t too impressed with it. Fast forward a year, after cultivating a renewed appreciation of, and obsession with, “Blonde”, I was returning to Ocean’s discography in search of tracks to fill the void, or the drought of new Ocean that was 2018. So that summer, during a trip to Montreal, I revisited “Provider” and something just clicked. In a lot of ways, I think “Provider,” a quiet, minimalist love song, got lost amidst the residual hype of “Blonde” and the string of absolute bangers released before “Provider,” namely, “Biking” and “Chanel.” But there’s an understated quality to “Provider” that, I think, captures the essence of Ocean’s impressionistic songwriting so well: the soft, circular keyboard progression, or the mantra that comprises the song’s chorus. The flow and imagery of the lyrics channel the colors and energy of some distant nostalgia not unlike that of a Claude Monet painting, or something along those lines, summoning feelings from some early evening or springtime reverie.

8. “Pink + White” | Cam A. Johnson, Senior Reporter

“That’s the same way you showed me, showed me/ You showed me love”

This is undoubtedly my favorite song from Frank Ocean and I will scream this from the rooftop of Independence. When this song was released in 2016 on his legendary album “Blonde,” I appreciated the lyrics, but I didn’t fully grasp the deep meaning behind them. As a 16-year-old sophomore walking around the halls of my high school blasting this on my way to class I began to realize that this song could be the soundtrack of my teenage life. This was the song that made me realize some situations and people can be temporary in your life but are put there for a specific reason in order to teach you a lesson. “Pink + White” will always hold a special place in my heart and it was the song that helped shape who I am today.

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