Much of the attention surrounding Frank Ocean’s first formal release Channel Orange (he released two highly acclaimed mixtapes before this album) has come as a result of his coming out via Tumblr. His coming out, and ultimately, his new visibility as an LGBT hip-hop artist, is incredibly important and should be noted. Hopefully, though, Frank Ocean’s social importance will not overshadow the quality of his new record – because Channel Orange is one of the best, if not the best, pop album of 2012.
To begin, it is infuriating that “Thinkin’ About You,” the second track on Channel Orange and one of the album’s singles, is not a worldwide hit. The song is simple, sad, sleek, and incredibly sexy. Any reasonable human being should be swooning when Ocean croons “Do you think about me still?” It also helps that the song is quite catchy, and will have you singing along in no time. This song, out of all the songs on the album, has the most potential to reach a wide audience.
While “Thinkin’ About You” is the favorite of the record, there are a number of tracks that come at a close second. “Bad Religion” is just luscious, a perfect mix of electronics with classical instrumentation and showcases Ocean’s impressive vocal range. Ocean’s voice also soars on songs like “Sierra Leone” and “Super Rich Kids.” There are a couple of hiccups on the album – “Pyramids” does not need to be ten minutes long, and some of the little interludes between songs are really weird. But this is mostly nitpicking, for the few misses that Channel Orange has are made up by the handful of hits present on the entire album.
On this record, Frank Ocean is showing the masses that he is a pop force to be reckoned with. And, with time, hopefully Ocean will be the superstar that he is worthy of becoming.