2012 Album Of The Year: Frank Ocean's "Channel Orange"

Frank Ocean Channel Orange

This is the album I played most this year.  Matter of fact, I played the shit out of this record, trying to sing like Frank Ocean, compensating for a lack of falsetto by nailing the rap parts. What a joy Channel Orange is to listen to and the lyrics are compelling.  Take "Crack Rock" for instance where he sings: "Your family stopped inviting you to things/Won't let you hold their infant/You're smokin' stones in abandoned homes/You hit them stones and you broke your home/Crack rock crack rock crack rock."  It strikes a chord with many of us who have seen a friend or relative devoured by drugs.  No matter what advice you offer, you know it will only help if they make that decision to quit.  A moment that ends up being both funky and upbeat while sounding sad and poignant.  Kind of the whole album in a nutshell, very emotional yet fun as hell.

Call him the new Prince, Drake, Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz, or Marvin Gaye.  Take your pick, he is all of these things and more.  I loved the versatility throughout this album, and the songwriting kills.  It's fresh, finally someone not afraid to try different things, and blur all boundaries.  I found myself going back to Channel Orange day after day, mostly because it was unlike anything I've ever heard.  Though I could make a zillion comparisons, the ideas still seemed new.  I was challenged after each listen to dig deeper.  "What was he saying here?  What was he singing in this part?"  A true sign of a good listen.

I just hope this man continues to challenge and soothe our ears for years to come.

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