Monday, July 16, 2012

channel ORANGE

channel ORANGE (song by song) Album Review/Analysis by April W.

Track 2: Thinkin Bout You

The first full length song on the album is, perhaps, Mr. Ocean’s most well-known, most covered, and most downloaded song, THINKIN BOUT YOU. This song has been circulating for months but the Channel Orange version starts off with some nice new instrumentals, and slight background changes. It tells the honest and universally relatable tale of missing and wanting to be with someone. It’s an ambiguous love letter to a first love that conveys “we’ll go down this road til it turns from color to black and white.”

Track 4: Sierra Leone

SIERRA LEONE. I must admit, this is one of my favorite songs on the record. It has 300+ plays on my iTunes account. It’s a very sexy and sultry slow jam with a “Neptunes” vibe spilling from every angle of it, and I’m not even sure if Pharrell co-produced this track or not. It is filled with wordplay and metaphors that can easily fly over the listener’s head. It basically tells the story of a poor, young couple who have unprotected sex, get pregnant, [“Spending too much time alone/and I just ran out of Trojans/ Horses gallop to her throne”] have a baby, and ends with Frank singing his baby daughter a lullaby about the reality of life. “Baby girl, if you knew what I know”.

Track 5: Sweet Life and Track 7: Super Rich Kids

SWEET LIFE and SUPER RICH KIDS have two very different sounds to them, but basically throw hints at the same subject of mocking people who live a wealthy life. SWEET LIFE, however displays the joys of the luxury life, while SUPER RICH KIDS, by contrast, conveys the dark side of it all. SWEET LIFE was co-produced by the very accomplished and influential Pharrell Williams alongside Ocean himself, whereas SUPER RICH KIDS samples melodies from the Elton John classic “Bennie and the Jetts,” and the soulful RnB hit “Real Love,” that is performed by Mary J Blige. Earl Sweatshirt makes an appearance in SUPER RICH KIDS, and if you listen closely enough to his blurred and mumbled lyrics it can be understood that his verse has quite a relevant meaning. Many Frank Ocean fans were not looking forward to Earl’s verse in the song. Personally, I had no idea was to expect of it, and when I finally heard it I was quite satisfied.

Track 8: Pilot Jones

PILOT JONES is another one of my personal favorites. It has a smooth and sexy vibe to it, similar to SIERRA LEONE. Frank Ocean starts it off by speaking and graduating into falsettos, telling the story of how he was in love with a woman addicted to drugs. The two lovers started out with plenty of things in common. But now, the woman he sings about is only and constantly searching for highs; he won’t get high with her any more. [“We once had things in common/…/You’re out there flying high/Go head, fly that thing/…/But fly alone”]. Although this woman is clearly and deeply addicted to the sale and use of drugs, Frank Ocean continues trying to make her sober [“I just don’t know why I keep on trying to keep a grown woman sober”], but regardless of his failure he will continue to love her. She’s addicted to drugs, but he’s addicted to her. “You’re the dealer and the stoner, with the sweetest kiss around.”

Track 9: Crack Rock

CRACK ROCK. Track 9 on Channel Orange is also a story of drug addiction. It isn’t about love or attraction, unlike PILOT JONES; it simply tells the unbiased story of a man addicted to crack cocaine. It is a mid tempo piece of work with subtle piano melodies that set the serious tone of the subject at hand. The lyrics tell of how this addiction is unbreakable, although the main character may want to stop drug use. Drugs have caused him to lose all thing of importance. [“You hit them stones and you broke your home/Crack rock crack rock”]. He will do anything to get his high. Now he’s living on the street, stealing, his family doesn’t trust him, he is too strung out for anyone to be attracted to him sexually, but most importantly he is alone now. “You’re shucking and jiving/Stealing and robbing/To get the fixing that you’re itching for/Your family stopped inviting you to things/Won’t let you hold their infant/You used to get a little cut-up from time to time/But the freaks aint trying to sleep with Cracky.”

Track 10: Pyramids

PYRAMIDS is the first officially released single from Channel Orange, and the one that Frank Ocean will have the most fun performing at shows (or so he said via his Twitter account). It’s the peak of the album, a ten minute joint that has both futuristic and classic appeal. The first half of the song makes references to the legendary story of Cleopatra and even the bible. Contrarily, the second half is extremely modern, referring to strippers, pimps, and prostitutes.

In its first half, up tempo and groovy, Frank Ocean and his woman are ancient Egyptian royalty. His queen, Cleopatra, has run away from him, as he was fooled into believing she was stolen by a thief. He will do anything to get her back. [“Set the cheetahs on the loose/There’s a thief out on the move/…/They have taken Cleopatra/…/Come back for my glory/Bring her back to me”]. Turns out, Cleopatra was having an affair and when the Pharaoh finds this out, she kills herself. [“Found you laying down with Samson/…/Bad dreams Cleopatra/Send the cheetahs to the tomb/Our queen has met her doom/No more she lives/…/It has killed Cleopatra”]. In the latter half, a bit more slow and sexy, Frank Ocean and his woman are reincarnated into individuals far, far from royalty. He is an unemployed pimp living in a motel, and Cleopatra is a stripper/hooker that keeps his bills paid by working at a club called The Pyramid. Apparently Frank is falling in love with Cleopatra again but “your love aint free no more.”

Track 11: Lost

LOST. Track 11 is also an up tempo, groovy track. It is the story of a woman who gets caught up in a superficial world of drugs, sex, materials, and excitement. She’s constantly thrill searching, she’s stopped going to work [“And I just wanna know/Why you aint been going to work”], but a regular nine to five job can’t give her the things she wants for herself [“Boss aint working you like this/He can’t take care of you like this”]. Eventually this woman has become caught up and overwhelmed in thrill searching, and now she’s lost in the heat of drugs, sex, materials, and excitement. “Now you’re lost/Lost in the heat of it all/Girl you know you’re lost/Lost in the thrill of it all.”

Track 13: Monks

Yet another up tempo, groovy and funky record from the album with very heavy percussions. MONKS is a song about a young groupie he met while he was on tour. In this song he is a wild rock star and this young groupie falls in love and wants to run away with him. The couple eventually does run away although her father is traveling close behind them. There are a lot of troubles in this relationship.

Track 14: Bad Religion

BAD RELIGION is Channel Orange’s breakout song. It is the most emotional song on the album. It’s the heart wrenching story of an unrequited love. Brought me to tears. Frank Ocean made history performing this on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, this is the first time a popular/Rnb Black male singer has sung about having love for a person of the same sex on national television for everyone to see. This song goes hand in hand with Frank Ocean’s “Thank You” letter that he posted to his Tumblr blog on July 3, 2012, a few hours before American Independence Day. In this letter he revealed to us that his first love didn’t love him back (or at least admit to it).

Many people confuse Frank Ocean’s choice of example and the title of the song as a diss towards Islam because he sings “Allahu Akbar,” which is Arabic for “God is great,” and then goes on to sing “but don’t curse me,” in reply to the Taxi driver that is praying an Islamic prayer for him. What he’s really saying is that his sexuality isn’t accepted by Islamic religion, or many other religions, he just chose to use Islam as an example. What he’s really titling a “Bad Religion” is his love for someone who doesn’t love him back; unrequited love. “It’s a bad religion/to be in love with someone/Who could never love you/I know/Only bad religion/Could have me feeling the way I do.”

Track 15: Pink Matter

PINK MATTER has been much anticipated since Frank premiered it himself at shows from his previous tour. Track 15 from Channel Orange is extremely sexy and can be played on repeat for hours at a time. The song begins with an internal conflict between Frank and his internal conscience which refers to as Sensei (figure of guidance/teacher). This Sensei is teaching him that his woman is there for more than physical pleasure and benefit, but also for love. He goes on to explain and glorify the woman’s reproductive organ. I won’t get to explicit, but he compares it to cotton candy, meaning it’s sweet and delightful, but also compares it to Majin Buu (a plump pink villain from the Dragon Ball Z series), meaning it can also cause a lot of trouble ;). After Frank is done with his pointless internal conflicts he concludes that his woman is his pleasure [“Nothing mattered/cotton candy Majin Buu”]. For his woman is nothing more than her reproductive organs and the pleasure that she gives. Her heart, or anything else about her doesn’t matter. “Pleasure of matter.” Andre 3000 is featured on the track and ends it with a verse or two that Frank harmonizes with. He also plays guitar in song.

Track 16: Forrest Gump

Frank Ocean first sang FORREST GUMP in his set at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April, 2012. Now, this song is very broad, and can be interpreted in a million ways, but it’s much more than just the homosexual love story that too many people believe it to be. If you have seen the movie Forrest Gump it is completely obvious that the song makes blunt and frank references to one of Tom Hanks’ breakthrough movies Forrest Gump. It also has many direct audio clips from the movie that play underneath the lyrics and tunes. Many believe that it’s written from the character Jenny’s perspective. I personally interpret it as being a song glorifying the specialness of a first love and saying that they will never be forgotten. “Forrest Green/Forrest Blue/I’m remembering/If this is love/I know it’s true/I won’t forget you”.

Read the complete track descriptions at the Original Tumblr post Here.

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