It was pretty obvious from the first listen that Channel ORANGE wasn’t going to be just another hip hop/R&B album. Every track is carefully planned and channels emotions that are intense yet surreal. Frank Ocean is unlike any other in the music industry as some of his songs have absolutely brilliant lyrics and the album as a whole is amazingly structured.

Channel ORANGE  is the singer-songwriter’s debut album, released on July 10th, 2012 on Def Jam Recordings. It has seventeen songs spanning over 55 minutes and 38 seconds.

The title of the album seemed even prettier after I read about the story behind it! Graphene colour synesthesia- the neurological phenomenon of associating perception of numbers and letters with colour is what the title of this album is based on. ORANGE is associated with the summer Ocean first fell in love.

Song Name Rating
Start

★★★☆☆

Thinkin Bout You

★★★½☆

Fertilizer

★★★☆☆

Sierra Leone

★★★½☆

Sweet Life

★★★☆☆

Not Just Money

★★★☆☆

Super Rich Kids

★★½☆☆

Pilot Jones

★★★☆☆

Crack Rock

★★★½☆

Pyramids

★★★☆☆

Lost

★★★★★

White

★★★☆☆

Monks

★★★☆☆

Bad Religion

★★★★☆

Pink Matter

★★★½☆

Forest Gump

★★☆☆☆

End

★★★☆☆

1. Start -:

On. Off. Flicker. Are you ready?

2 .Thinkin Bout You -:

Ocean’s most popular single. It is a very mellow song that you can listen to on a warm summer’s day or even a quiet rainy day. The lyrics are cheesy (“A tornado flew around me before you came/Excuse the mess it made, it usually doesn’t rain”) but it’s fun song. Ocean’s vocals are fabulous.

3. Fertilizer -:

“Fertilizer/I’ll take bullshit if that’s all you got” Ocean says in this short 1950s commercial-inspired interlude.

4. Sierra Leone -:

Ocean takes us to war-ridden Sierra Leone, Africa where he addresses a fictional younger version of himself who fooled around with a girl and got her pregnant. The soundscapes take the lyrics that are gentle, filled with hope, to another level.

5. Sweet Life -:

Another song that is a mini-story where the singer constructs an illusion of the sweet, easy life at Ladera Heights (“Why see the world/When you got the beach?”) before the seeping ills are slowly unravelled. The song shines with its lyrical strength.

6. Not Just Money -:

An interlude based on an actual recording of the mother of one of Frank’s friends.

7. Super Rich Kids (ft. Earl Sweatshirt) -:

About super rich kids searching for true love. Not particularly wild about this song but it is well paced and poignant.

8. Pilot Jones -:

Of weed and misplaced lust. A song I didn’t feel very strongly about till I paid more attention to the lyrics.

9. Crack Rock -:

On crack cocaine and unhappy families. Another song by Ocean that draws its strength from clever lyrics! The pace and mood gets darker and lonelier by the minute.

10. Pyramids -:

A powerful track on beautiful Cleopatra and her modern counterparts!

11. Lost -:

My favourite song of the album! A song with a toe-tapping rhythm that so highlights the jet-setting and frenzied lifestyles of today. The girl in question is young and naïve and once she’s in, she’s lost to that kind of life forever.

12. White (ft. John Mayer) -:

The Ocean and Mayer jam session we’ve all been waiting for.

13. Monks -:

I’m not sure if I fully ‘got’ this song but the instrumentation is energetic and it’s amazing how the larger picture of this song is so much more than its elements.

14. Bad Religion -:

An iconic song that I feel defines the singer. Before you listen to Bad Religion, read Frank Ocean’s Open Letter on tumblr and you will gain more insight into this song. Ocean calls unrequited love a “bad religion”.

15. Pink Matter (ft. Andre 3000) -:

Another lyrically brilliant song that I was kind of ‘eh’ about till the third or fourth listen. Andre 3000 and Ocean on the quest for love, woman and pleasure that is sure to get you to introspect.

16. Forrest Gummp -:

Based on the movie of the same name. Another popular track that I personally didn’t find very appealing.

17. End -:

A little like the opening track. The End is here.

Album ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Conceptually, Frank Ocean’s album is Brilliant with a capital B. They don’t make such music anymore! Or so I thought before listening to Channel ORANGE that was a complete album; a treat especially when the songs are listened to chronologically with interludes that play a major role in setting the mood and theme at various points of the album.

Channel ORANGE with its multiple soundscapes and sampling of different kinds of instrumentation, unpredictable perspectives and structure had tracks that felt very true to the artist. I’m not a huge R&B fan but I was still wow-ed.  With lyrics that are clever and thoughtful, the songs evoked a fiery RED in me.