(video above is NSFW)
Blonde by Frank Ocean
I’m not gonna lie: I like the sound of extreme autotune. So long as it’s being used to push the limits, calling attention to its own “digital-ness,” then I’m all for it. You heard this quite prominently in Francis and the Lights, back at #21 on this year’s Top 31. And here we are all the way up at #4 with another heavily autotuned masterpiece, Frank Ocean’s Blonde.
Like Beyoncé at #6, Frank Ocean is a name I knew but didn’t pay much attention to before 2016. This is only Ocean’s 2nd release, coming out four years after his widely-acclaimed pop debut Channel Orange. I listened to Channel Orange back in 2012, but dismissed it as being way too over-hyped. I’m glad I didn’t give up on Ocean for good, because Blonde kills.
Not to beat a dead horse, but probably for the same reasons I love Beyoncé’s album so much, the endless sea of stellar partnerships makes this album so great. There are a TON of guest artists on this album, from André 3000, to Beyoncé herself, James Blake, Rostam Batmanglij (featured at #19), and even a string arrangement by Jonny Greenwood (featured at #10). I’m pretty sure there are about 80 collaborators / personnel listed on the wikipedia page for this album). You could fill an entire Grammy awards just with the people on it.
But unlike Beyoncé’s album, this is not something for everyone. The song structure is a bit on the bizarre (which is another reason why I like it so much), but when it clicks, it’s fantastic. There are even a couple spoken-word “songs” on it that I skip outright. But I encourage you to give this at least three listens before dismissing it. If you’re like me, it’ll sink it’s claws in well before you finish the third lap, and then you won’t want to stop listening.
5. Are You Serious by Andrew Bird
6. Lemonade by Beyoncé
7. Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest
8. Goodness by The Hotelier
9. The Mountain Will Fall by DJ Shadow
10. Junun by Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood & The Rajasthan Express
11. The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey
12. Amen & Goodbye by Yeasayer
13. Sea of Noise by St. Paul & The Broken Bones
14. You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen
15. Painting Of A Panic Attack by Frightened Rabbit
16. Why Are You OK by Band Of Horses
17. Not To Disappear by Daughter
18. Sunlit Youth by Local Natives
19. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
20. ★ by David Bowie
21. Farewell, Starlite! by Francis and the Lights
22. This Unruly Mess I’ve Made by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
23. LNZNDRF by LNZNDRF
24. Puberty 2 by Mitski
25. Light Upon the Lake by Whitney
26. A Corpse Wired for Sound by Merchandise
27. Away by Okkervil River
28. case/lang/veirs by case/lang/veirs
29. Love Letter for Fire by Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop
30. Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future by Underworld
31. Preoccupations by Preoccupations