Frank Ocean – Super Rich Kids

Frank Ocean cameras

Frank Ocean is about to return with a followup to his landmark debut channel ORANGE, and I felt like I needed a reminder of why we’re all so excited. After all, it’s been four years. That’s an eternity in pop years, and even longer on the internet.

So I turned to the my favorite old song and looped it. There’s nothing like this type of tune.

This is a pop masterpiece built upon the skeleton of an earlier hit, zooming off on its own magic.

The song uses the ultra-basic piano refrain from Elton John’s Bennie and the Jets as a springboard for weirder, more ambitious ideas. A lot of artists would be content to use that legendary one-two punch to wrap some new lyrics around, but Ocean simply lays it down as a bedrock rhythm, stacking dizzying melodies one after another in a tour de force performance worthy of Michael Jackson.

I’m not kidding about that MJ comparison; I believe Ocean has the potential to equal such stratospheric heights.

Unfashionably zeitgeist-nipping lyrics describe the world from the point of view of a disaffected one percenter, daring himself toward death while a chorus pops in with a cloud of ennui; the languid beat and horn-laden production emphasize the glistening luxury of these blues. But the bridge emerges as a cry for help, pleading,

Real love, I’m searching for a real love
Real love, I’m searching for a real love
Oh, real love

And then in comes that Earl Sweatshirt rap, clear as crystal, ripping open the synth-glazed finale of the song. It’s vital, forceful, and smooth as silk, a perfect hip-hop transition from one mood to another within the same tune.

Suddenly a chorus of voices wraps around the familiar refrain,

Too many bottles of this wine we can’t pronounce
Too many bowls of that green, no Lucky Charms
The maids come around too much
Parents ain’t around enough
Too many joy rides in daddy’s Jaguar
Too many white lies and white lines
Super rich kids with nothing but loose ends
Super rich kids with nothing but fake friends

Terminal velocity is reached, but we’re watching in slow motion as the narrator falls from the top of his tower in despair. It’s ragged memorial as pristine funk confection.

This is one of the best pop songs of the past decade.

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