It was a relief when Endless (the now very much ignored album out of the two that were released) was dropped, and when ‘Blond(e)’ was released, everyone was ecstatic. The beauty, I might add, of ‘Blond(e)’ is that Frank Ocean released two copies: Blond - the copy available to everyone immediately at its release on iTunes and Blonde - the copy contained in Ocean’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ Zine, which omitted some and added a few songs. Many failed to noticed the difference and even confused the two titles. Blond, the masculine, was available to all: a self exploration of love and loss, vulnerability and more. To get to the heart of it, you have to read between the lines. On the other hand, Blonde, the feminine, is more of an open book, contained within a zine that allows you to leap into Ocean’s mind, exploring his favourites of films and cars and poems and photography never seen by the public before.
In my lack of motivation and inspiration, i struggled against this month’s theme of ‘Illusion’; why? I don’t know, when such a theme brings such plentiful ideas especially in the most spooky and historic month (in Britain, October is black history month). I found myself in an existential crisis over the past few weeks; questioning why and what is everything for, like some tortured and pretentious English major (which I’m actually due to be next year). But in a moment somewhere between sleepiness and intoxication, I found myself listening to ‘Seigfried’ on repeat, perhaps Ocean’s most vulnerable song on the ‘Blond(e)’ album.
There’s a lot to be said about ‘Seigfried’. It is visceral to say the least. It is a non-linear loop of sadness and despair and the desperation not only to return to previous state of nirvana, but to reckon one’s mistakes. It is the reaction perhaps, to the final stage of a breakup, the dissolution of metaphysical intricacies we attach to someone we so desperately love and as Frank Ocean pleas at the end of the song itself ‘would do anything’ for. ‘I’d do anything for you’, his voice is soft and drenched in sadness as the song comes to a close. ‘Anything’ is repeated and ‘you’ seems to echo in your head afterwards. The echoes of ‘in the dark’ create a darkness to the desperation in this plea. After all, what do we do in the dark? The things we don’t talk about. Ocean, or the narrator that Ocean has created is willing to do anything for this person who, long gone, they still long for even if that means doing those things that we don’t talk about, anything to make them stay.
However, the most poignant thing I took from this song is that it has a lot to say about bravery and strength. It directly contrasts its title. Siegfried (spelt Seigfried on Ocean’s album) is a hero of norse mythology and German folklore; the name itself translates to victory and protection, but Ocean’s song exhibits the opposite. It shows sadness and even helplessness at being stuck in a loop which only leads to another loop. The person in Ocean’s song is not able to protect them-self from this desperate longing they feel despite being far removed from the person they feel it for and, in this, there is no victory - they lose to their own self, battling their feelings against what they believe could be a solution to moving on such us, settling down in a family unit with kids and a swimming pool. And, it’s open about it too. Ocean doesn’t try to hide this. It made me think about how bravery is in fact a self delusion, yes, there is a certain strength in being vulnerable, it takes a lot of strength to be vulnerable and carry on in this world. Anyone who has been through the things Ocean has been through, such as being queer and black, certainly has had their own issues to carry in this world, fitting in being an exceptional part in that.
But no one freely admits to being weak, no one wants others to know that they are weak, so we exploit ourselves in this way and force ourselves to believe that we are brave and strong, but for a lot of us, perhaps that’s an illusion. For some people, admitting how you feel and how and what you are is bravery. Some of us are put into situations where you need an immense amount of bravery to say what it is that weighs heavily upon you. But there’s a difference it seems, that comes across to me in this song, between being brave and being honest. In a world where we are so desperate to make it known that we are strong and without fear, Frank Ocean shouts that he isn’t brave and shows that it’s okay to be vulnerable; it’s okay to be weak.