Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 -- #47: "Novacane" -- Frank Ocean

2011 was all about Tyler, the Creator when it came to Odd Future, but lest we forget, there was still Frank Ocean. Of course, at this point it's sort of easy to forget Ocean is even a part of the collective. He's had collaborations outside of Odd Future, and has even embarked on his own solo live shows.

If Tyler and Ocean's success this year is any indication, the future is bright for Odd Future -- as in, they won't fizzle out after this year. But between the two, Ocean just may possess the most longevity. While it's possible to see Tyler's act dying down in the next few years, Ocean already has a number of artists and producers in the industry behind him. Who knows -- when it comes to Odd Future, maybe it'll soon be the Frank Ocean Show.

Until then, it's easy to enjoy what Ocean has already given us. His Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape was one of the best of its kind this year, and lead single "Novacane" one of the strongest debuts of any R&B crooner. (And for the record, I'm not spelling 'Novocaine' wrong unknowingly -- this is how Ocean spells it on the tape, for whatever reason.)

"Novacane" is reminiscent of R&B production of the early 2000s, a welcome respite from the overproduced electronic glitz currently overtaking the charts. That's always been a strength of Odd Future in general, of course -- things aren't overblown and too complicated. Instead, it's intimate, sometimes sparse. Ocean proves here that you can still write R&B and make it intricate.

In "Novacane," Ocean sings about a porn star who aspires to become a dentist. They met at Coachella ("I went to see Jigga / she went to see Z Trip / perfect"), and proceed to have the most intimate of relations -- but not before getting super, super high.

His mind is still on her, and his emotions as numb as if he were on Novocaine (ah ha!). It's a clever lyric, one of my favorites of the year.

We'll talk more about Odd Future later, but for now, enjoy the smooth, relaxed beats of Frank Ocean while you still can. Who knows where he'll go in the ensuing years, if he'll go more commercial or stay where he's at now. One thing's for certain right now -- I'm digging it.

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