Frank Ocean’s intimate, introspective songs often deal with love and relationships. This article ranks the best Frank Ocean love songs released to date.
The list includes favourites from Channel Orange (2012) and Blonde (2016) as well as lesser-known love songs from Frank Ocean’s discography.
11. Bad Religion
One of the best-known tracks from Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange album, ‘Bad Religion’ sees Frank confiding in a taxi driver about unrequited love.
The unusual lyrics draw parallels between religious fervour and unhealthy obsession with a romantic interest.
The sentiment is summed up with the lines,’if it brings me to my knees / it’s a bad religion / unrequited love / to me, it’s nothing but a one-man cult.’
‘Rushes’ comes from Frank Ocean’s lesser-known album Endless (2016). The song explores the theme of infatuation and the ‘rush’ that comes with it.
The lo-fi feel and simple guitar instrumentals combined with the intimate, confessional lyrics provide an almost bedroom pop feel.
Lyrics such as the following give the song a strong nostalgic feel: ‘Bygones but we’re still here / ride around in my two wheels / I love the way you make me feel.’
9. Strawberry Swing
Taken from Frank Ocean’s debut album Nostalgia, ULTRA (2011),‘Strawberry Swing’ is a Coldplay cover that captures the nostalgic, romantic feelings that Frank explores so frequently in his music.
The scene is set with the opening line ‘when we were kids, we handpainted strawberries on a swing / every moment was so precious, then.’
A tender love song that’s about appreciating those sweet, shared moments in life.
8. Pink Matter
The slow and sensual ‘Pink Matter’ is one of Frank Ocean’s most explicitly sexual love songs, with the seedy opening guitar riff, and popping bass line providing the sonic foundations.
The unquestionable climax of the song comes around 2 minutes in with the rising string arrangement and the lyrics ‘dim the lights and fall into you, you, you, ooh / my God, giving me pleasure.’ The vocal delivery sounds almost orgasmic.
The song is unusually structured with André 3000s rap seeing the track through to the end.
The melancholic ‘Cayendo’ (Spanish for ‘falling’) sees Frank Ocean singing in Spanish and English. Released in lockdown, the track comes from Frank’s mournful, acoustic double A-side record, Dear April / Cayendo.
The lyrics, as well as the instrumentals, are straightforward and spare by Frank’s standards, expressing the simple sentiment ‘I still really, really love you, like I do.’
Fans have suggested that the song echoes the opening line of ‘Godspeed,’ closely matching the lyrics, which is carried by a similar melody.
6. Dear April
One of Frank Ocean’s saddest, starkest love songs is ‘Dear April.’ It also comes from his double A-side, Dear April / Cayendo.
The sparse guitar instrumentals create space for the melancholic, almost despairingly sad lyrics and vocals.
The song seems to desperately try to offer a positive spin on the sadness with lines line, ‘what we had won’t be the same now / but you will make something new / and it’ll take you through this.’
The track focuses on the rare intensity of ‘two strangers’ connecting and making each other feel safe in the world, as well as expressing the pain of losing that connection. Without a doubt, ‘Dear April’ is one of Frank’s most heart-wrenching love songs.
5. Thinkin Bout You
The iconic ‘Thinkin Bout You’ is Frank Ocean’s best-known song. With its slow, minimal R&B feel and that squeaky falsetto chorus, the track is instantly recognisable.
As well as being Frank’s most-streamed track, it’s a charming love song. The lyrics express a coyness with lines like, ‘no, I don’t like you, I just thought you were cool enough to kick it.’
However, other lines reveal that the song is about a life-changing relationship, as Frank sings, ‘yes, of course I remember, how could I forget how you feel? / You know you were my first time, a new feel / it will never get old, not in my soul, not in my spirit, keep it alive.’
Fundamentally, this song reflects on the theme of eternity and lifelong relationships, which is why Frank sings in the chorus, ‘I’ve been thinking ‘bout forever.’
‘Thinkin Bout You’ has got to be amongst the most uplifting, romantic love songs Frank Ocean has released to date.
4. Self Control
The summery and nostalgic ‘Self Control’ of one of Frank Ocean’s most popular songs.
The beautiful guitar and string arrangements create a deeply warm and comforting atmosphere combined with the evocative refrain ‘keep a place for me / I’ll sleep between y’all, it’s nothing, it’s nothing.’
The underlying themes of bed sharing and self control suggest both intimacy and repression, with the complex textures and subtle poetry of the track providing ample space for listeners to bring their own experiences to the song.
A mysterious and evocative love song that epitomises Frank Ocean’s artistry.
Opening with that iconic line ‘I thought that I was dreaming when you said you loved me,’ Ivy is one of Frank Ocean’s most nostalgic love songs, reflecting on youthful romance.
Musically, the track is characteristically minimal, featuring just Frank’s voice and two electric guitar textures – one palm-muted, and the other playing phased, picked or strummed chords.
The song reflects on an unexpected romance that blossomed into something deeply impactful, with Frank singing ‘I had no chance to prepare, I couldn’t see you comin.’
Although the relationship seems to pass through different phases and challenges, the song reflects positively on it, with the refrain, ‘we both know that deep down / the feeling still deep down is good.’
The mysterious and moody ‘Seigfried’ is one of Frank Ocean’s most subtle, and most beautiful love songs.
The beat-less instrumentals feature a subtle guitar and wandering bass line, with lush strings swelling part way through.
Frank’s oblique, poetic lyrics feel deeply introspective and reflective in ‘Seigfried,’ as he explores settling down, becoming ‘less morose and more present,’ and ultimately a profound sense of yearning.
The romantic element is not immediately apparent until the end of the song, when it becomes unmissable with the stirring refrain ‘I’d do anything for you (in the dark).’
‘Godspeed’ is one of Frank Ocean’s most stirring love songs. The track is about the twilight of a relationship. From the echoing piano and opening line ‘I will always love you,’ this track is totally arresting.
The song consistently references Christian spirituality – from the title, to the church organ accompaniment, to the gospel vocals in the outro, and several biblical references.
Some of the biblical references in the song include ‘the table is prepared for you’ (a likely reference to Psalm 23:5) and ‘there will be mountains you won’t move’ (a likely reference to Jesus’ saying that faith can move mountains in Matthew 17:20).
The lines ‘I let go of a prayer for you’ and ‘I let go of my claim on you’ suggest moving on, in spite of the clear sentiment that the feelings of love and care felt will never end.
‘Godspeed’ is a staggeringly powerful song about loving and letting go, and wishing the best for a former love.
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