From The Cure to Prince: Frank Ocean’s 50 favourite songs of all time
At a time when live music remains well and truly off the menu amid the health crisis, the period of flux has allowed fans to be a little more creative in their means of acquiring a sonic fix. Here, in Far Out towers, we’re looking back through the archives to provide some light entertainment in what is a particularly anxiety-inducing time.
While our recent ‘Doctor’s Orders’ feature looks to bring you some music recommendations from some of the artists you admire most, we’re also dipping into the vault to recover some past suggestions to help see us through the pandemic and the impending second lockdown. Here, we turn to Frank Ocean and a collection of 50 songs that helped shape his creative vision.
Ocean, a prolific singer-songwriter, record producer and visual artist, was able to burst onto the scene through the release of his 2011 critically acclaimed mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra and didn’t look back. Famed for his creative and approach, Ocean has been able to reinvent the traditional approach to R&B and done so by blending core elements of jazz-funk, psychedelic rock, soul music with elements of traditional pop music in his own unique avant-garde manner. It makes for an intoxicating blend.
“Some people focus more on sonics. Some people focus more on story. I focus on both sonics and story, but music sometimes, just music itself, can turn into more of a maths problem,” Ocean once said of his approach. “I guess everything in life is a math problem, but it can be more about an empirical route to getting the symmetry that you want, and this vibe, sonically,” he added, offering a glimpse into the deeper workings of his relentlessly active mind.
“In art, at a certain level, there is no ‘better than.’ It’s just about trying to operate for yourself on the most supreme level, artistically, that you can and hoping that people get it,” he added. “Trusting that, just because of the way people are built and how interconnected we are, greatness will translate and symmetry will be recognised.”
Ocean’s view on artistic creation is one that never wavers. He, in his deepest of hearts, understands with sincere clarity the path in which he is forcing his music down. While Frank Ocean is always willing to learn, to study, to alter his own approach if it so requires, the core principles of being true to his art remain the solid base in which he begins every creation. So when he was asked by Genius to pick out what he would consider being his 50 favourite songs, the musician did so with meticulous accuracy.
Given his severe range of influences, Ocean’s collection is a varied and wide-ranging mix of sounds. Expect to see the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Cure, Prince, The Beatles, Donna summer, Mazzy Star and more.
Below, also find a full playlist of the songs included.
Frank Ocean’s 50 favourite songs:
‘Crosstown Traffic’ – Jimi Hendrix
‘How Insensitive’ – Frank Sinatra
‘Scarborough Fair’ – Simon & Garfunkel
‘Alina’ – Arvo Part
‘I Feel Love’ – Donna Summer
‘To The Last Whale’ – Crosby & Nash
‘Prints Tie’ – Bobby Hutcherson
‘Jardim Dos Deuses’ – Joyce Moreno
‘Fade Into You’ – Mazzy Star
‘No More Shall We Part’ – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
‘I Never Learnt To Share’ – James Blake
‘One Mo Gin’ – D’Angelo
‘The Last One To Be Loved’ – Gabor Szabo
‘Shadows’ – Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes
‘Images Live In 1964’ – Nina Simone
‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ – Roberta Flack
‘It’s Gonna Rain’ – Steve Reich
‘Stardust’ – Willie Nelson
‘Nós e o mar’ – Tamba Trio
‘$’ – D.R.A.M.
‘When I Die’ – Goldlink
‘The Man-Machine’ – Kraftwerk
‘Asiko’ – Tony Allen
‘Earth Bound Hearts’ – John Mclaughlin feat. John Surman