Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Christopher Lonny Breaux, now popularly known as Frank Ocean. My friend introduced me to his music a couple years ago. I have now heard it all.
Musical taste is subjective. I get it. I don’t have any control over what sounds ‘good’ to me. It just does. BUT, I believe a distinction CAN be made between those songs that reduce to pleasant auditory stimuli and those that are worth listening to. ‘Worth’ connotes more than just entertainment value. I’m talking about music that makes you think. That leaves you moved. That stays with you.
Compare Wiz Khalifa and Lupe Fiasco. You can’t seriously contemplate Khalifa’s music for more than five seconds. To analyze the lyrics of ‘Black and Yellow,’ for example, would just be silly. On the other hand, listen to some of Fiasco’s music (from Lasers, for instance). Note the difference. A message weaves the words together. The lyrics are meant to be both heard AND understood. Lyrically speaking, Ocean is more like Fiasco and less like Khalifa.
Below is Ocean’s song ‘Forrest Gump,’ a track from his album Channel Orange. Play count at time of writing: 125.
This song is different. A man sings about another man. He sings about desire and longing. About shared experiences and memories. About gratitude and affection. He sings to the melody of his heart strings. And it’s simply beautiful.
Society at large is not very fond of nontraditional romantic relations. But, Ocean could not care less. He feels a certain way, and it just so happens that the object of his feelings is a member of the same sex. The detail is trivial. There is no hint of tension or uncertainty in the song. There is no mention of social constraints or victimization. The lyrics contain an extended metaphor to the movie ‘Forrest Gump,’ but it is used merely to describe how Ocean cannot stop thinking about the other individual. That’s really it. The abstraction is minimal, the purpose exposed. That’s the point. It’s emotion. It’s real. It’s no different than what boys feel for girls or what girls feel for boys. He provides no justification, for none is needed.
Love is beautiful, and here, it is beautifully expressed.