In this time of isolation we have ample time for contemplation, and Frank Ocean has blessed us with the perfect soundtrack for the moment, releasing two brooding, dreamy singles, “Cayendo” and “Dear April.” Both tracks were first debuted at Ocean’s New York City club night back in October, but now are available on streaming services in stripped down, acoustic versions. Reminiscent of 2016’s Blonde, these songs distill the feeling of sitting at the edge of your bed, head in your hands, staring straight into the void. What could be more perfect for a moment when the whole world seems to be cracking open?
“Cayendo” features a simple guitar instrumental with verses sung in Spanish. The title’s English translation, “falling,” speaks to the painful state of being helplessly in love with another. The two lines which end the chorus “Si esto no me ha partío’, ya no me partiré nunca / Si puedo soportar lo que siento, ¿por qué me ‘toy cayendo?,” translate to “if this hasn’t broken me yet, I will never break / If I can stand what I feel, why am I falling?” There’s a tone of resignation, as Ocean submits to an unrequited love which pushes his emotional limits. Is there beauty in self-sacrifice? Maybe so, yet there is no need to present it as such. Ocean challenges the assignment of values to love. In its rawest form, love just is. It will exist despite better judgement, despite virtues and despite esteem, as Ocean plainly states: “When I still really, really love you, like I do / If you won’t, then I will / If you can’t, then I will.”
“Dear April” hits even harder, in a melodic, synth wave ode to the people who have shaped our lives. In a time when millions of people separate from their loved ones and graduating seniors say goodbye to the friends they have gained over the last four years, as a global pandemic forces all of us to face the inevitability of change head on, Ocean’s ballad is an ode to what seems to be an ex-lover, reminds us that our lives are undeniably intertwined with those of the people we meet. The heart wrenchingly sentimental refrain “If you could take two strangers / Lead them left and right / At a certain place and time / Like you took these strangers / And our two strange lives” emphasizes the absurdity of building closeness. Later on, the absurdity of losing it: “And what we had won’t be the same thing now (Now, now) / But you will make something new.” The track speaks to an introspective, empty closure that is an isolating yet universal part of the human experience. And what we need to remember now, more than ever, is that we owe it to the people we’ve known.
Anna Canny is a junior in the College of Agricultural Life and Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.