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“Blonde” by Frank Ocean Review

Mike Mullins, Guest Writer

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This is the musical analysis written by Lindbergh student and music expert Mike Mullins for a few tracks from Frank Ocean’s album, Blonde:

Nikes (Track 1):

  • Ocean’s top rated song on the “Billboard Hot 100” coming in at number 79, Nikes, is a definite head-bobber with its moderate tempo. From the opening, the simplicity of the groove makes it makes it so easy to get lost in. The sustaining swells from string instruments starting at around the three minute mark, the guitar, and the bass notes maintain the groove of the tune with the absence of percussion instruments. This section’s lack of percussion make it more emotional. The reinstatement of a drum groove at the end of the song and the fade out lead into the rest of the album due to the lack of resolution to complete the song.

Ivy (Track 2):

  • In contrast to Nikes, the lyrics are much easier to decipher in this track. The lyrics of the song are reflected by the music, both being generally happy but with an aura of darkness. Another emotional tune of moderate tempo to really groove with.

Pink + White (Track 3):

  • From the opening crescendo into the PHAT (with a PH) 12/8 rock groove, this tune really swings! The metric modulation played in the piano (2:3) at the end of phrases throughout further enhances the feel while just sounding cool. Though repetitive (except for the 1: 13 section with the congas coming out and the scaling back of drumset, which is a really cool section in and of itself), the groove never becomes stale due to its hipness and the addition of new vocal harmonies. Emotionally, this song makes me feel like I am on an African safari at sunset, in a large, open field, with the bright yellow sun bidding us goodbye for the night.. The exceptionally quiet (but ever-present) bird chirping throughout and the congas give me this impression. At the end, the bird chirping being the only thing that remains, ends the day suddenly as it is time to go to sleep.

Godspeed (Track 16):

  • The panning left to right of the sustaining synthesized creates an interesting effect, almost as if the music is holding onto you by only a thread. This is reflected by the lyrics, as it is presumed that the narrator lets go or bids goodbye to the subject of the song. The withdrawal of the the bowed instruments and synthesizers at around the two minute mark and the newly introduced marimba (or some electronic effect similar to a marimba) reflect the narrator’s attitude about letting go: one of intense sadness but acceptance. This melancholy feeling sets up the closing track of the album.
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