Seldom comes an artist who doesn’t surrender to the corporate machinery, which is the American Music Industry. It is even rarer when they genuinely work for the passion of their art. However, one such genius who has made a name for himself in the past decade is Christopher Edwin Breaux, now known as Frank Ocean.
The singer, musician, and songwriter are generally regarded as visionary. He’s also recognized for producing some of the most avant-garde pop songs in the past century.
He’s worked with some of the industry’s greatest stars, including Jay Z and Kanye West on Watch the Throne and several other artists. But his talent was undeniable even when he was a writer as he wrote for some big names like Beyonce, John Legend, Justin Bieber, and more.
His initial work was sentimental and sample-heavy. They featured songs about childhood innocence and nostalgia for lost lovers. He garnered attention for his innovative usage of samples from Coldplay, The Eagles, MGMT, and Radiohead in a Hip hop/R&B context.
However, Frank’s later work is more unique, drawing inspiration from a variety of genres.
While we wait in anticipation for a new album (and hopefully, it comes out soon), we have compiled a list for you. Here are the 20 Best Frank Ocean songs to remind you why you fell in love with his work in the first place.
Top 20 Best Frank Ocean Songs
Frank Ocean’s “Ivy” reached the pinnacle in regards to storyline and vocal delivery. The song draws you into Frank Ocean’s narrative of a broken relationship.
The lyrics depict regrets for a romance that he could no longer save. This is evident as he sings lyrics like “All the things I didn’t mean to say or do” and “It’s quite okay to hate me now.”
Regardless of the absence of percussion, the song is a fantasy for lovers of acoustic guitar-pop.
With its appeal, beautiful melody, and heart-wrenching lyrics, Ivy makes its way to our list of 20 best Frank Ocean songs.
“Rushes” from the album Endless demonstrates Ocean’s capability to build an agonizing crescendo in reaction to a shattered relationship. The agony showed throughout “Rushes To” is a painful recollection of that sensation.
However, it’s followed by a much more stunning song, “Rushes.”
The song contains nothing but Ocean’s voice accompanied by an electric guitar. It also features brilliant vocalist Jazmine Sullivan. For over 3 minutes, the tension of the song builds till the anguish crystallizes with a heart-breaking request—“I’ll wake up in a week, wake me up in a week.”
Although Endless is a mainly percussion-free album, Frank delves into some powerful drumming & bass. After a tumultuous last play of his romance, the track concludes with the sound of unexpected drumming.
The sound is dramatic, startling, and gets directly to your heart.
3. Pink + White
Imagine trying to get Beyoncé to do a feature on your song and then simply asking her to do only the backup vocals. Most people will find this absurd. But for Frank Ocean, it was the masterpiece “Pink + White.”
Another to make it to the list of best 20 Frank Ocean songs, Pink + White beautifully captures the story of Frank Ocean’s love life. All through the song, the songwriter builds a narrative of a love nearing its climax but then falling short of its full potential.
The song is a real gem on an album brimming with nostalgia. It is beautiful in its simplicity, supported by joyous lyrics and piano chords.
4. Super Rich Kids
In the track “Super Rich Kids,” Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt are surrounded by plastic corpses and bleeding noses. Amidst unprompted hints to boredom and death, it’s a scathing depiction of suburban affluence that flies past like a pleasant wind.
“Super Rich Kids” is one of the best 20 Frank Ocean songs, as the lyrics carry a lot of power. The music video depicts wine bottles with misspelled names abound in the garbage. It also shows white powder covering the marble countertops.
Through his drawling verse, Earl fills in for the absent cog, drawing focus to the majority of us, who regard the privileged as if they cannot erupt.
5. Pink Matter
“Pink Matter,” a track assisted by Andre 3000, undoubtedly ranks among the 20 best Frank Ocean songs in his discography. Alongside the hip-hop legend, Frank uses colors to codify his view of the universe.
Purple matter, blue matter, pink matter, and grey matter bring together universal origin, gender, sex, and mental cognition. It simplifies billions of complicated systems.
These colors influence his thoughts, establish his sense of identity, and characterize his curiosity. These colors dictate his sense of self, inform his questions and define his curiosities.
6. Self Control
The song “Self Control” from his sophomore album ‘Blonde,’ is all about the loss that comes as a result of poor timing in love. Ocean makes this apparent in the first few paragraphs of the song.
The lyrics employ poolside conversations and replace them with liquor-scented voicemails and barroom croons. He pines for someone who entered his world at the wrong time.
Ocean urges a past lover to remember him. He does it beautifully with aid from Yung Lean and Austin Feinstein. Their backup vocals deliver a chorus gentle enough to cloak retribution.
It didn’t take long after its debut for fans to recognize this track as one of Frank’s finest, which is why it is among the 20 best Frank Ocean songs. Ocean has not been hesitant about referencing romantic relationships with people from both sexes in several of his songs.
He returns to this theme in the chorus, singing, “I see both sides like Chanel,” a reference to the iconic brand’s double C emblem.
8. Strawberry Swing
As we know, Frank Ocean sampled songs from his favorite artists in his debut mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra. Among the list included Coldplay. So, if you believe Frank Ocean just sung over Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swings,” you’d be completely correct.
But the lyrics are what you should focus on. Whilst Coldplay’s track is a traditional love ballad. Ocean transforms the narrative and sings about a love story in a post-apocalyptic world.
The song Nikes is the opening track on Ocean’s second album, Blonde. Since it is the first song in the album, it incorporates elements of ambient soundscapes and mystery. Frank Ocean complements the different layers of the song with pitched-down voices.
The songs in this album are lyrically disjointed, yet he stays political and emotional. Ocean honors a number of people who died as a result of poverty, racial profiling, and drug addiction
10. Bad Religion
This D-side gem from Channel Orange is intimately connected to Ocean’s revelation as a bisexual prior to the album’s release.
The song also makes a thematic allusion towards another brief revelation in the first half of the album. Ocean confides with his cab driver about his love life.
However, after obtaining just religious remarks, he discovers that pleading isn’t that great. Be it a prayer to God or a prospective partner.
After alternating between falsettos and simple pleadings, the beautiful cry he utters towards the end is one of Channel Orange’s most iconic moments.
This 10-minute marvel looms above Channel Orange, and for a valid reason. Both musically and thematically, the song is like a complete album inside an album. It starts out with a bang, then transitions a strip club downtempo beat from a funky cool sound.
The song soundtracks Frank Ocean’s black narrative of a multi-millennium story.
At the beginning of the song, Ocean’s character Cleopatra is omnipotent. But when the song switches to the present, she transforms into a stripper just as bemused as her client.
12. Thinking Bout You
“Thinking Bout You” is the first single from Frank’s debut studio album Channel Orange. The song appears to be a beautiful love track dedicated to his lover.
However, we now know that unrequited love was a frequent motif in the Ocean’s initial work.
The song can elicit a wide range of feelings on any given day. The lyrics have the power to make you weep, encourage you to carry on, and embrace every emotion that exists in between these phases.
And, while most of us are not talented enough to replicate Ocean’s falsetto, there’s something to be said for giving your all and attempting to sing the song.
The release of Frank’s music video for his single “Novacane” triggered a dispute about the meaning of the song. Novocaine is a drug that may be both numbing and addicting.
Most people might say that relationships are also the same. The songwriter describes the relationship as enjoyable, meaningless, and, most crucially, a distraction.
Frank constantly seems to generate numerous different scenarios through his songs. Despite the fact that he makes it appear easy.
Without a doubt, songs become more relatable when the listener can interpret them in their own way. This is a technique that Frank Ocean has perfected.
14. Swim Good
The yearning for genuine love, the sorrow induced by it, and his enthusiasm for vehicles were all recurring themes in Frank Ocean’s earlier songs. In “Swim Good,” Frank combined all three elements.
On the surface, it appears to be the ideal song for a late-night drive. However, if you listen to it more closely, the lyrics reveal a darker meaning.
In spite of the gloomy and bleak aura of the debut mixtape single, “Swim Good,” the song is a delightful treat. Through the song, Ocean sings about driving right into the sea after losing everything.
15. Crack Rock
Frank Ocean’s songs are frequently riddles that imply greater significance. For “Crack Rock,” however, this is not the case. Instead of writing complicated lyrics with hidden connotations, the singer went right to the subject’s heart.
Frank crafts a repeating chorus that is quickly addictive. He illustrates the ease of enslaving a person into addiction. It is not a pleasant or fun topic. However, Frank speaks about the sensitive issue with lyrics as powerful as those smashing drums, making it difficult to ignore.
Even if people do not respond to stories about addiction, maybe they will if they are packed into a song as beautiful as this.
16. Sweet Life
Owing to Pharrell Williams, Frank’s powerful ’70s R&B feel garnered comparisons to the legendary Stevie Wonder. The lyrics depict a semi-dystopian story about the affluent lifestyles of the elite in Beverly Hills.
Those who spend their days lounging by the poolside and staring in reflections while maids and lawnmowers slog. It’s yet another instance of Frank’s ability to create a narrative and take it on a bizarre, enigmatic path while keeping your interest.
17. Wise Man
Next on the list of 20 best Frank Ocean songs is one that did not get released officially. The song was originally created for one of Quentin Tarantino’s greatest epics, the highly acclaimed Django Unchained.
However, in 2015, Tarantino eventually linked the song to the boxing film Southpaw after failing to create a scenario that would bring justice to the song.
Wise man opposes hatred that is deeply rooted in the differences in humanity. The music is concise, and it seems old yet never outdated.
The artist faces the lifeless, empty eyes of a dead brother, the barren womb of a departed sister. He provides no easy solutions or meaningless words.
Instead, he forces the audience to address life’s complex truths.
18. Pilot Jones
“Pilot Jones,” one of numerous Channel Orange tracks pointing to Frank Ocean as the new king of first love. The song is a short story with 3 acts starring a smoke-puffing, drug-dealing, mother-scaring lover overflowing with a list of vices.
But an unnamed force propels Frank beyond the realms of competence and logic. He now clings to her like an addiction.
Although the lyrics of the song are drenched in profound sobriety, “Lovecrimes” is intrinsically appealing. The song is brilliantly constructed around a simple and short piano melody on repeat.
For many of the fans, it will not be surprising that Frank Ocean has built a track on a substantially large sample midway into his album Nostalgia, Ultra.
As the monologue unfolds, the sound of Ocean’s looping piano riff softens. It ultimately comes to a halt allowing the monologue to completely peak in an emotional finale.
The lyrics of this song are linked with interpretations of abortion and interaction between a male and a female, as well as their adulterous aspirations and affairs. The track is yet another illustration of Frank’s versatility as a writer.
It’s simple and almost inevitable to draw parallels between “Nights” and “Pyramids” after the first listen. But the only thing that both tunes have in common is that Frank Ocean combined what could have been two separate tracks into one long piece.
After the beat of drums, the beautiful string section is followed by an electrical guitar solo which immediately grabs your attention. And it all happens approximately 3 minutes into the second half of the song.
He seamlessly shifts from guitars to violins to keyboards in the most natural manner.
The intro is a more upbeat tune since Frank is reminiscing on his recent accomplishment. He is now in a position where he doesn’t need to rely on helping hands.
The slowness in the middle of the song corresponds with a recalled past and the sacrifices he had to make to get here. However, these intense recollections keep him focused and moving onward, completing the “Nights” cycle.
Frank has proven himself to be one of the most gifted artists of our generation. He continues to produce thoughtful, introspective masterpieces.
His music and lyrics present a true raw expression of emotion. His creative spirit tells us that he lives his life, and we live our lives. But when he’s come to a point where there’s something more to say, he says it, and we listen.
We hope that by listing our 20 best Frank Ocean songs, you will be inspired to listen to and explore more of his music.
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