Odd Future fortnight has run it’s course, but what better way to end it than with our top 40 Frank Ocean songs.
40. Moon River
Kicking things off on our Frank top 40 is Frank’s most recent release. Ocean took Audrey Hepburn’s 1961 classic and switched it up in the production aspect for a phenomenal 2018 release. His vocals are as always on point in every way, but from a production aspect he really turned this song into something completely new, as a cover should.
39. Biking (solo)
The solo version of Biking see’s Frank Ocean deliver extra vocals to compensate the lack of rappers on the track, I’m stating the obvious there but I suppose Frank vocals are never a bad thing. It’s an impressive display with a really cool and heated outro.
38. Pilot Jones
This song oozes attitude and groove, the high pitched vocal delivery compliments the futuristic but understated beat effortlessly. What I love about this song is that it is fairly minimalist on the surface but in actual fact there is so much going on sonically and all of it is so enjoyable. Frank’s vocal switch ups in pace and pitch make for pleasant listening on this short but sweet ‘Channel Orange’ banger.
37. We All Try
Lyrically, Frank Ocean approaches a lot of his songs with a sense of duality. We All Try is a fine example of this idea of dichotomy as Ocean capriciously teeters from belief to skepticism, from his faith in God, all the way to his refusal to believe that his country ever made it to the moon.
Frank Ocean’s debut single saw him tackle a very dark subject matter right off the bat: drug abuse, particularly the use of local anaesthetic. Not only this, but right away Ocean proved himself capable of building an atmosphere that fit perfectly with his lyricism, ensuring this one to be an instant hit with critics.
35. Rushes To
Taken from Endless, Rushes To is a quality instrumental that follows on from the brilliant Rushes. Like a lot of Endless tracks, it’s rather quick, but as always the case with Frank it was still sweet and as elegant as always.
34. American Wedding
Given that Nostalgia, Ultra was not a commercial release, most of the artists that Ocean sampled were happy with letting him use their instrumentals- The Eagles were not. Being a rendition of the band’s 1977 hit Hotel California, Frank found himself threatened with legal action if he were even to perform American Wedding to which he attributed to them being “intimidated” by his version. Considering how good this one is, I’ll go with that.,
33. Swim Good
This song has me going some kind of way every single time I hear it. The way Frank rides the beat in the verses is absolutely immense, the lyrics are incredible and that hook is truly special. A song about driving into the ocean shouldn’t sound this good but oh my god it does, it really really does. It doesn’t take a genius to work out why this one was released as a single.
32. Skyline To
When most people think of the music featured in Blonde, they probably think of sprawling, formless instrumentals, and Skyline To is one of the finest examples of this. Ocean follows a similar route lyrically on this one too, as each line reads like a random thought process, completely unrelated to the one that follows.
31. Pink Matter
Frank was as consistent as ever on his album Channel Orange, but there was two times he was outshone on his on record and this was the first of those. Andre 3000 delivers a quite simply glorious verse on this track which really makes it that much bigger. You probably won’t find a bigger collab in the world for me, two GOATs of their respective genre.
30. Nature Feels
With Nostalgia, Ultra borrowing instrumentals from a wide variety of artists, Nature Feels, flips MGMT’s indie anthem Electric Feel as Ocean provides his own unique twist. It could easily go toe-to-toe with the original, Frank expresses his desire to be one with nature when having sex with a potential partner.
29. Bad Religion
This song made me cry when I first heard it, the sheer beauty of it all is almost overwhelming at times. What makes Bad Religion so special is that you could imagine some of the all time greats singing it in their primes; and Frank Ocean fits into that company with his first album. Those damn vocals over this stunning instrumental oh my god, so much sauce.
28. Pink + White
Featuring writing and production credits from Pharrell Williams, Pink + White is perhaps the Blonde cut that is most akin to the style of music on display on the preceding album Channel Orange, with its steady, tranquil instrumental grooves. Anyone with a keen ear will have also noticed that Beyoncé appears on this track, albeit a brief cameo as she only provides backing vocals towards the end of the track.
A gorgeous lo-fi ballad displaying Ocean’s gifted voice in the finest light, Wither is a classic example of Frank’s frequent use of wordplay: the narrator hopes that his future partner and children are there to see him age and “wither”, whilst also acting as a homophone for “with her”.
One of Frank Ocean’s greatest vocal performances, Godspeed is a feel good beauty piece which embraces the everlasting love he feels towards a special someone. His wordplay and imagery is as moving as the choral sounds in the backing track from the harmonies and the organ. This song is one of the purest examples as to why Frank Ocean hits a note with so many people in terms of feeling, he truly feels every single word he says and that makes it sound all the more poignant.
Whenever Frank Ocean connects with Odd Future friend Tyler, the Creator, we always get a quality track, add in music legend Jay-Z and you’ve got one insanely star studded and rare lineup. We get the same amazing vocals from Frank that we did in the solo version with two additional rap verses making this significantly better than it’s counterpart.
Surely one of the best pure rapping displays of Frank Ocean’s career, U-N-I-T-Y offers up such an elegant flow in the verses and the hooks give us some of that instantly recognisable Frank soul. I absolutely love the delivery of both on this song, it shows the best of both worlds in Frank’s arsenal while also coinciding with the stripped back beat very well indeed.
23. Super Rich Kids
Remember how I said on Channel Orange our beloved Frank got outshone a twice? Well this is the second one. This is about as close to rapping Frank got on this album but the track really was about Odd Future friend Earl Sweatshirt gifting us one of the greatest verses in forever. The rhyme scheme is mind boggling and it really did let everyone know that Earl is for real.
22. Forrest Gump
A beautiful track here from Frank who wrote the song from the aspect of Forrest Gump’s love interest. The lyrics make many call backs to the film but are still based around Frank’s love for a man. It’s a really expertly written piece of music and as always Frank has the vocals to back it up.
21. Comme Des Garçons
I was alive to hear Frank Ocean uttering the words “all this drilling got the dick feeling like a power tool.” Now that is an iconic line. Beyond that, though, this song is a quick, to-the-point bop with a slick beat and a quirky flow that fits with the aesthetic of ‘Endless’ brilliantly. It is Frank really showing a confident side and embracing the attitude of owning everything he does, the “feelings come feelings go” repetition is as catchy as it gets too.
20. Futura Free
Being such a vivid, cinematic journey, it was important that Blonde had a fitting end. Enter Futura Free, the curtain call for Frank Ocean’s 2016 opus. Ocean takes this time to reflect on his success as an artist, as well as near enough everything else that occurred during his rise to stardom. The music ends around half way through the track and, after a brief pause, is followed by an old interview with Frank’s younger brother, tying in perfectly with Ocean’s unwavering focus on nostalgia.
Solo is an undisputed pillar in Blonde‘s track listing, and it’s easy to see why. Fulfilling all of the criteria of a quintessential Frank Ocean song- including his idiosyncratic vocal acrobatics and cleverly thought out double meanings in his lyricism- Solo‘s minimalist composition (only enlisting what sounds like an old church organ) allows Ocean a position at centre-stage to do what he does best.
One of Frank’s biggest hits, Lost served as one of the commercial highlights for ‘Channel Orange’ and it is plain to see why. The synthesisers on the best are infectious while Frank’s lyrics are undeniably catchy; it’s just great to hear him feeling himself on a track, it never fails to put a smile on my face. While it may not be one of his more thought-provoking or heart-wrenching anthems, Lost is an excellent R&B bop and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
17. Pretty Sweet
Unsettling on the surface with drastic pace changes and chaotic soundscapes from strings, harmonies and synthesisers; Pretty Sweet is absolutely staggering. The vocal delivery is so angelic and beautiful alongside the guitars that make up the bulk of the song but as soon as the song switches and we get that rapid fire beat, the song turns into so much more. It is completely devoid of real structure but that really doesn’t matter, the sound it creates both as a stand alone track and in the context of Blonde is absolute bliss and I could listen to it over and over.
One of four singles to be released in 2017 following the success of Blonde, Provider was first aired on Frank’s Blonded Radio station and has remained a permanent fixture of his discography ever since. There are five versions of the track but the original is what we chose to go with here. Soft vocals that have been pitched up over quality RnB production is almost a given at points from Frank, but it doesn’t make it bad, this was pretty exceptional for a non album track.
An undeniable highlight of Frank Ocean’s Endless, Rushes is beautifully wistful, as Ocean ruminates on how his life often fluctuates from soaring highs to crushing lows. The incredible vocal layering and harmonies on display are enough to make you completely forget that the instrumental consists of only one guitar, and is a prime example of why Frank’s visual album should not be overlooked.
Yet more impressionistic and intriguing lyrical layout from Frank, Lens could well be about an affair between two men but could also be about a woman too. Frank Ocean uses echo and reverb on his voice to create such a beautiful aurora around his delivery and the song profits from it greatly. I adore the hook on this song and those elongated notes are absolutely immense, more proof that he’s one of the best singers on earth.
13. Mitsubishi Sony
Preceded by the somber Rushes and Higgs, Endless‘ stunning climax Mitsubishi Sony sees Ocean rise from the ashes, bouncing with bravado. What makes this one truly stunning is its instrumental which takes precedent over Frank’s playfully cocky delivery just before the minute and a half mark- it’s a stampeding, futuristic beat that rallies off into the horizon, making for the strongest closing track that Frank Ocean has ever put down.
The highest ranked song of Frank’s 2017 campaign comes in the form of Chanel. Frank dropped the song as always on Blonded Radio and it etched it’s place towards the top of this list thanks to Frank giving us one of his best vocal performances of his career. The cleverly thought out lyrics mixed with that vocal performance has made this song one of Frank’s most well known.
11. Slide On Me
Good lord this song is good. The isolated guitar chords on the beat alongside the snappy hip-hop snares makes for absolute bliss; while Frank’s delivery is dynamite, particularly in the hook which is fairly basic and repetitive but works SO WELL. It will get stuck in your head for a long time after hearing it, trust me. The layering of his voice is a joy to behold on this track too as he ad-libs and harmonises throughout some glorious vocal deliveries.
10. White Ferrari
With the wide array of standout tracks that Blonde has to offer, White Ferrari probably isn’t the first song that comes to mind if someone were to ask you what makes this album so great. However, its placement in this list should be enough to tell you that this tune’s brilliance deserves to be appreciated. Ocean’s perfectionist disposition was reaffirmed after he claimed that 50 different versions of this song were recorded before he settled on the one that would appear on the record, and what a song it is.
9. Strawberry Swing
Frank’s genius musical IQ came into play on our highest charting Nostalgia Ultra as Ocean sampled Coldplay’s Strawberry Swing and completely made it his own. Coldplay loved what Frank did with the track and invited him on tour and it’s clear to see why. It was a stroke of genius on Frank’s part as the sample was played over Frank fittingly discussing nostalgia on the first full track of the album.
One of the most powerful songs on ‘Endless’, this is colossal evidence of the brilliance of Frank Ocean as a songwriter. “What if we decide to live by choice” Frank sings on this gorgeous song as he addresses the person he clearly feels deeply for with emotion and poise. I love how slick the instrumental is on this track too, it just makes everything being said sound all the more elegant.
Perhaps Ocean’s most vulnerable performance to date, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood is recruited for string arrangement- a key feature of Seigfried‘s haunting instrumental. Frank’s raw vocals are equalled by his lyrics, as he questions his own bravery in light of a recent failed relationship, as well as his own identity.
After what felt like an eternity following the release of Channel Orange, Frank finally returned. He dropped Endless and then dropped this track as the lead single to Blonde. The lyrics represent materialism but really the madness was in the autotune. The first three minutes of the track were autotuned in what turned out to be the most genius of ways. After years away working on music, Frank came back and delivered this masterpiece in a massive way.
This is track two from Frank’s most recent album Blonde, and it’s quite easily one of Frank’s best vocal performances on the entire album, hell his entire discography. The vocal performance is heightened by a quite brilliant bit of production, while it’s incredible in it’s own right it’s clearly designed to be in the background as Frank takes front and centre stage.
A near 10 minute masterpiece, this song has been hailed as a true classic in Frank Ocean’s career and a defining moment in his development from Odd Future wonderkid to soulful superstar. The song tells the tale of the ancient history of a black woman, as she has declined from queen to mistress in recent times. A lyrical masterclass with a groovy, glamorous instrumental and some excellent guitar breakdown at the end courtesy of John Mayer.
3. At Your Best (You Are Love)
This track was originally performed by Isley Brother, then Aaliyah, but Frank covered it the best. Taken from his Endless album, At Your Best (You Are Love) is not only Frank’s best cover track ever, but it’s easily one of his very best vocal performances of all time. It’s rough and raw, and it’s quite sublime.
In all the lists we’ve ever done as a team, this is the closest one yet and Nights missed out on the top spot by a slither. This two part track gives us everything we love from Frank and that bit more. The first half of the track is slightly more up beat with the second half being a lot more mellowed down, but it’s the part in the middle of the two tracks that’s really important here. The beat switch in the middle of this track is not only the best piece of production on any Frank song, it’s also very symbolic. The beat switch happens to not only be halfway through the song, but halfway through the album, it brings into question the themes of Frank’s work, particularly the duality between Blonde and Endless.
1. Self Control
As mentioned, this was as close as we’ve ever had a list, but Self Control is our number one. What made Nights so great was it’s expert and complex production, what makes Self Control so great is it’s minimalist production but it’s stunning vocal performance. Frank talks of a difficult relationship on this track as Yung Lean and Austin Fenstein take on the chorus’ of the track. The outro of this song is really what makes it, and I’m not exaggerating, on of the best songs ever. It’s soulful, deep and vocally stunning throughout. All three members of Viberant had the pleasure of seeing Frank live, and I balled my eyes out to this song, it’s as close to perfection as you can get.