By Riva Rubin
A man who has inspired a generation of creativity, freedom, expression, and rawness. A man who, with every rare release, never disappoints. A man, who, after many years off stage, is headlining one of the biggest festivals in the world – Frank Ocean.
Coachella, arguably one of the most influential festivals in America with an average turnout of 250,000 people, makes for a stellar return for Ocean. Known for having his live vocals match his masterful studio recordings, Ocean performs in a captivating, almost unbelievable way. His performances consist of him in heavy headphones with eyes closed, surrounded by pieces of music production equipment and speakers. As he squeezes his eyes shut to reach the high reverberating vocals of “Thinkin Bout You,” the audience can’t help but be put in a trance, as with any one of his songs. His slightly “crunchy” vocals and his unforgettable melodies come together to create a flowing sensation that make for a very intimate listening experience for listeners. It isn’t just his voice, but the carefully crafted works of art he produces, their meanings, and their effects.
The effects of Ocean’s art and genius are baffling, but in the best sense of the word. Ocean manages to capture entirely different universes in his music. If one were to listen to his music and close their eyes, one might picture a movie — maybe even a whole new world. His clean percussion, deep muted piano, and bass come together to create an otherwise unimaginable environment. Take his new song, “In My Room.” In this work, Ocean raps about his spending and successes as well as an experience with a lover. When absorbing the song, every part of one’s body comes to move to the snare of his beat, his deep bass, and muted, yet resonating piano. Listening to Ocean’s music, feeling the constantly moving bass and piano, makes one feel like they are floating on air and watching a hypnotizing trip of vibrant colors, swirling around them. The power of his arrangements continues to amaze me and millions of others. I’m not only speaking for myself when I say that Ocean heavily impacts and mesmerizes his listeners.
“The reason why I am so deeply infatuated with both him as well as his work is because he is just so multifaceted as an artist,” senior Ethan Walsey said. “His songs cover a broad spectrum of emotions. There is a very good chance I am his biggest fan.”
Walsey, an avid purchaser of merchandise and listener of Ocean’s, has never experienced him live, but if you ask Walsey to pull up a recent playlist of his, the name “Frank Ocean” appears countless times. If you ask him to sing or rap any of Ocean’s songs, he will be able to recall all of the words from the lyrics of his first works with hip hop group Odd Future that includes fellow music artists like Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt to lyrics from his latest releases “DHL” and “In My Room.”
All Ocean’s art covers an incredibly broad spectrum, as Walsey stated, making him an intimate artist that manages to touch everyone in some way. Ocean sings, raps, and produces. He showcases his multitude of talents in his full albums “Channel ORANGE” and “Blonde.” Every type of sonic masterpiece has a unique element that makes it memorable and captivating.
His iconic individualism, pride in his bisexuality, complicated composition, and rawness makes him the undefinable genius he is. With his pride and openness with his sexuality, he refuses to conform to traditional masculinity and continues to pave his own image, regardless of stereotypes. The authenticity he consistently brings with his music creates an intimate bond with his listeners, leading to such intense fans as Walsey. His stage return is very much anticipated by the masses, and many Pinewood students hope to go and witness him live.
Ocean is headlining the music festival on Sunday April 12 and 19, 2020. If you are able to afford it, don’t miss out on this piece of history, as he’s not only bringing up his iconic classics, but it is his first live performance of his new works “DHL” and “In My Room.” Many suspect a new album is coming soon, which holds me and many others in extreme anticipation, so a performance with some new music could be expected as well.