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Breaking down Frank Ocean’s album: Blonde
Courtesy of Spin
Photo of Frank Ocean performing

Blonde by Frank Ocean came out in 2016 with seventeen songs. This was not Frank’s “debut album”. He already had a pretty big fandom beforehand from releases like channel ORANGE

The first thing people noticed with this album Blonde is how the title is spelled with an E, but on the album cover is spelled without the E. There are a few theories that people have made.

The first one is a perspective on Frank’s sexuality. Blonde being the feminine side of bisexuality and “blond” being the masculine side. 

Another view is that it could represent getting older. A lot of kids that are born blonde then their hair darkens as they age. Blonde shows Frank’s innocence and purity of his younger years, “making the album play out as more autobiographical”.

In my opinion both interpretations show a perspective of coming of age. Frank has never fully confirmed what the different spellings of blonde mean, but that doesn’t take away from the concept of the album.

This is his most vulnerable project that’s been released. He has talked about how he uses different voices throughout the songs. Frank explained,

“Sometimes I felt like you weren’t hearing enough versions of me within a song, ’cause there was a lot of hyperactive thinking…my point of view from one emotional state to another is a different point of view.”

— Frank Ocean

The overall meaning of the album is falling in and out of love “with themes of self-love and hate, failed relationships, and drugs”. 

The first song on the album is called “Nike”. 

There are two distinct voices you hear throughout this song, one at a much higher pitch than one with a lower pitch. This indicates two sides of one story perspective.

Both the video and song are based off of a cult in the 1990’s called Heaven’s Gate. This cult was known to take an oath to commit suicide together. They all wore Decades Nikes with the same outfit on, like Frank recreates in his music video. 

The second song on the album is called “Ivy”.

This is the first song that talks about themes of falling in and out of love. A couple of his lyrics say, “We’ll never be those kids again” and “The start of nothin”. 

This song shows how this relationship was the start of nothing and it wasn’t going to go anywhere. Later in the song it shows how the relationship did not last and still reminiscing back on how it felt when it was healthy. 

The title “Ivy” comes from the real plant strangles and how ivy is not good for trees to have wrapped around them. Comparing the unhealthy relationship to a harmful plant. 

“Pink + White” is the next song on the album

Despite how upbeat this song sounds, it brings up a particular moment from Frank Ocean’s younger years when someone close to him passed away. As sad as it sounds, it doesn’t bring the grief, he talks about the lessons he remembers this person giving. 

In the second verse a hurricane is brought up and how it destroyed everything in its path. This might be referencing Hurricane Katrina and how his loved one may have died in it. 

The title connects back to the sky or sunset that Frank could be reminiscing on relating back to one of the first lyrics of the song: “If the sky is pink and white”. 

The next track is called “Be Yourself”.

It’s not a song, but a voice message from one of Frank’s childhood friends’ moms. She gives advice on how life is more than just wealth. 

Following “Be Yourself” is “Solo”.

The title of this song has two interpretations. One is rather straightforward: Being solo in life, but it has also been seen as being “so low” emotionally. 

The theme of this song touches on trying to treat yourself to self love, but also “waiting on a call from your lover”. 

“Skyline To” does not follow the same trend as the past few songs.

There is no distinct theme or deep concept to this song. Common things he mentions are summer, sex, and drugs; nothing more than that. It is important to note Frank mentions summer in quite a few songs throughout his music

 The seventh song on this album is “Self Control”

 We see Frank using the different voices to convey different perspectives again here. He describes how he was in a relationship that was slowly falling apart. One lyric says: “wish we grew up on the same advice”. Hinting that maybe the other person was immature in the relationship and that’s what caused some of the issues. 

 The next song, “Good Guy”, is a lot rawer than some of the other songs.

 Frank talks about going on a date with a mutual friend, but the intimacy was nothing. He hoped for something more that was never going to happen. His vocals are vulnerable and lost, displaying how difficult it can be surrounded by straight people when queer. 

 “Nights” is the next song in queue. 

 This song describes another relationship with a lot of inconsistent highs and lows. Again, Hurricane Katrina was mentioned and how it completely discombobulated Frank’s life. There’s a sudden change of tempo in the middle of the song to demonstrate the changes in his life that he had to endure. The use of drugs is also talked about metaphorically throughout. 

 The next few songs on this album do not have as much meaning as the rest of the songs. Those include: “Solo (Reprise)”, “Pretty Sweet”, “Facebook Story”, and “Close to You”. Not that these songs aren’t meaningful, just not as significant.

 “White Ferrari” is the fourteenth song on Blonde.

 This song shows the simple, but emotional ride of losing innocence and purity in a relationship. Now those memories are just seen as a good time. 

 The last three songs wrap up the album very well. “Seigfried”, “Godspeed”, and “Futura Free”

 These all show steps closer to feeling closer and comfortable independence. Frank starts truly reflecting on himself, not just on failed relationships, but many socially constructed issues. This is a wonderful way to end the entire album.

Blonde is such a beautiful and touching track if the lyrics are taken to heart. If you ever have an hour to spare, I recommend putting on headphones and sitting with Frank Ocean for seventeen songs and sixty minutes

About the Contributor
Lexi Bartholomew, Reporter