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Opinion: Ranking Frank Ocean’s Best Songs

Jimmy Simpson

Contributing writer

Widely regarded as one of the greatest singer-songwriters of this generation, Frank Ocean has produced some of the most gorgeous music of this century. Although it has been almost six years since the release of his most recent studio album, Blond, Ocean is set to headline this year’s Coachella festival, and rumors are abound about a potential upcoming third album. These are, in my opinion, Frank Ocean’s ten greatest songs.

10. Moon River

This may be a slightly unorthodox choice. Released as a standalone single in 2018, “Moon River” is actually a cover of a well-known song first performed by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. While not the first artist to take on this traditional pop standard, Ocean manages to bring something new to it. His vocals on this track are sad and exhausted, and the tune is almost lullaby-like.

9. Pyramids

Released as the second single from his debut LP Channel Orange (which, to some fans’ dismay, I personally prefer to Blond), “Pyramids” is a musical epic that tells the story of a pimp who falls in love with a sex worker, who goes by the name “Cleopatra.” Clocking in at almost ten minutes, “Pyramids” is a stand-out track in Ocean’s discography. Starting off as a funk-infused dance beat but soon transitioning into a smooth R&B rhythm,“Pyramids” is laden with luscious synths.

8. Seigfried

On “Seigfried,” Ocean ruminates on relationship difficulties. The song’s echoing guitar hook, which repeats throughout, sounds ethereal and distant, like Ocean’s lover. The mood is melancholy, at times haunting, and unflinching in its emotive power.

7. Sweet Life

Somewhat of a departure from his preferred subject of love and relationships, “Sweet Life” is a satirical commentary on wealth and idleness. On this track Ocean reflects on how money and privilege can shut individuals off from the rest of the world, targeting his critique at the Southern California lifestyle specifically. “You’ve had a landscaper and a housekeeper since you were born… so why see the world, when you got the beach?”, he asks on the explosive chorus.

6. Ivy

We’re getting into the really good stuff now. “Ivy,” the second track from Blond, describes a love that is unexpected. “I thought that I was dreamin’ when you said you love me/The start of nothin’/I had no chance to prepare, I couldn’t see you comin’,” Ocean softly sings over a gentle, pop-infused guitar riff. The transition to distorted vocals at the end demonstrates some of the singer-songwriter’s more experimental tendencies.

5. Pink + White

Beautiful and languid, “Pink + White” combines Ocean’s sultry vocals with summer-y tones and psychedelic textures. The track opens with a bright piano riff, which gradually builds into a blissful wall of sound.

4. Sierra Leone

Displaying his trademark use of metaphor, “Sierra Leone” is a fictional account of Ocean getting a girl pregnant while they were both still teenagers. Ocean’s crystal-clear vocals accompany a tropical, ambient sound.

3. Forrest Gump

“Forrest Gump” describes Ocean’s infatuation with a male football player. Unlike in many of his other songs, the artist steers clear of ambiguity. He fantasizes about how “buff” yet gentle his love interest is: “I know you wouldn’t hurt a beetle,” he sings. Though sweet and simple, it is nothing less than pop perfection.

2. Godspeed

An operatic masterpiece. The synth opening quickly fades into an abyss, into which Ocean cries “I will always love you.” His voice in this moment is charged with sadness, desperation, and even fear. A lifetime of heartbreak and regret is wrapped up in this moving farewell to a lover.

1. Thinkin Bout You

Ocean’s best, and one of my favorite songs of all time. No one comes close to Ocean in conveying just how painful love can be, and “Thinkin Bout You” captures this experience perfectly and elegantly. The singer’s plaintive falsetto on the chorus never fails to give me goosebumps. His descriptions of crying and wondering whether his love is truly reciprocated are agonizing and sadly relatable.

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