Tag Archives Billboard

Frank Ocean Reenters the Billboard Top 200 and We’re All in Our Feelings Again


Around the time that the leaves started turning and the sensation that summer was officially leaving us, Frank Ocean’s second studio album Blonde re-entered Billboard’s Top 200—meaning we’re all pretty much in our feelings again. That summer also saw Blonde receive its platinum certification (which the artist’s mom picked up) as well as the record’s 100th non-consecutive week on the Billboard charts.

There is something inextricably linked between Ocean and summer. The nostalgia and fleetingness mixed with freedom that summer always brings is reminiscent of something innate in Ocean’s music; there’s the fun you’re supposed to be having and sometimes are mixed with the loneliness and knowledge it will end soon. In the artist’s own words talking about his first studio album Channel Orange: “Orange reminds me of the summer I first fell in love.” What is more morose and rosy than looking back on a summer in love? So, of course when the death of summer begins feeling inescapable, who better to turn to than Frank Ocean?

When a friend first mentioned to me in passing that Frank Ocean was back on the charts, she said, “I guess we’re 

all in our feelings right now.” Ocean has become the emotional powerhouse of the music world. His distortions, plays with meter and rhythm within his songs, and use of irregular beats and samplings has led to Ocean crafting overwhelming songs that seem to drown one entirely in emotion—even without any true understanding of what the notoriously private artist was thinking at the time. With songs like Self Control and Solo (Reprise), both of which hit me deeply and make me want to cry no matter how I feel when they start playing, it is true that Ocean is the sad master; no other artist has ever come close to Ocean’s ability to manipulate sound into devastating feeling.

However, there’s something a bit more intense about Ocean’s return to the top 200 and it’s our inability to let him go. Looking back to before the release of Blonde and Endless, the whole culture felt manically obsessed with when Ocean’s second album would come out. Every day, one would be left wondering, how much longer? When release date after release date was passed with little acknowledgment and little sign of the album, rather than lose interest, the rapid want for a new record only grew. When Blonde and Endless dropped (with no publicity or warning) in August 2016, it immediately went to the top of the charts and sold more than a quarter of a million copies in the first week. Now, from going platinum to passing its 100th week on the charts, Blonde has proven itself to be 

inescapable in the best way; time may pass, but there are days where you just have to listen to it.

Luckily, Frank Ocean has not disappeared again but has continually put out music throughout 2017 and 2018. Although he has not said anything about the release of a new album, he’s never been one to speak much publicly. All we can do for now is put in our headphones, play some Blonde, cry, and hope a new record comes out soon.



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Frank Ocean Reenters the Billboard Top 200 and We’re All in Our Feelings Again; Images Credits: Ryan McGinley for the New York Times; Angela Weiss for Getty Images; the artist’s tumblr; Nabil Elderkin for NPR

The State of Music: From Physical Sales to Digital Streaming


As the technology landscape grows larger, the state of music changes from the physical to the digital. From being able to see the cassette or CD spin round, to now holding our entire music libraries or accessing them via Internet/Cloud-storage is definitely a sign of the times. What this means for us as the listener, the artist and those behind these platforms, varies upon each release and public perception.

As the Cassette Turns

Can you remember your first piece of music? I can. I was about five or six, and received two cassettes: Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and Celine Dion & R. Kelly’s “I Am Your Angel.” That was back when record labels still released entire tapes for one promotional single, and the music quality never wavered. The art of the tangible is a real thing for some people, as being able to see, hold and interact with something gives it meaning. For music aficionados, may it be a vinyl record, tape or CD, having this and being able to find them (I was lucky to find some gems even in our local library), is highly important. With the release of the mp3 player, companies were dangling “unlimited access” in our faces. Some took the bait, finding no qualms with paying either $1.99 for a single song on iTunes, taking time and transferring their music libraries to their devices, or being the first to have the new album at the touch of their fingers. The rise of the Internet in the early 2000s caused debate among fans and artists, or artists and these new and budding music platforms. “Can I find and play that song at any time or do I have to do the work to upload it myself?” “Will I receive fair compensation for making my music available this way?”

The Catch Up Chart

Of course the shift from CDs to MP3 players meant there was less focus on physical units and more on digital streaming. The smartphone made it worse, focusing on Internet access, increased storage and touch surface area. Although CD stocks dwindled or phased out, the gap between longstanding organizations such as the RIAA and Recording Academy during the rise of streaming, narrowed. Music charting systems like Billboard created additional charts determining overall positions on the Hot 100 (Digital Songs, top weekly digital sales) and Streaming Songs (top weekly radio streamed, or viral videos or songs). Music certifications like the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) now recognize digitally streamed songs for platinum or gold certifications, and among The Record Academy, could also receive various industry nominations. Artists like Macklemore, Chance the Rapper and even PSY are examples of artists that found digital popularity and made their way into traditional radio streaming.

Right Here, Right Now

We’ve gone from sharing sites like Limewire and Napster to iTunes. Tried out and fought over recommendation-streaming like Pandora, but now with so many user-curated services like Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Music, the ball is in a listener’s court. If the general public didn’t seem to lean toward the digital world with curiosity, perhaps places like FYE, the Virgin Mobile store or Borders wouldn’t be so dead.

Maybe. But because issues of copyright will always be the question in the music world, artists continue to push for more control over having their catalogue available on these services and fighting for fair compensation. Regardless of what goes on behind the scenes, the state of music today, just means some are greedy and don’t care about the backstage battles. So long as the music is available, it can be said we will be around to listen, ready to take test how unlimited our access really is. But what if simply having our music streaming this way, isn’t enough?

Perhaps in the future, an audio-implant device? Too much? Maybe.


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The State of Music: From Physical Sales to Digital Streaming. Featured Image provided by Flickr CC License.

Jason Derulo: The “Talk Dirty” Phenomenon


Have you heard the new Jason Derulo song, “Talk Dirty”? Even if you’re sure you haven’t, you probably have at some point! The Talk Dirty phenomenon is sweeping the nation. You can flip from station to station and hear the unique beat of the song ringing through numerous times. Full of catchy lyrics and an infectious saxophone part, “Talk Dirty” is impossible not to love!

This song didn’t grow in popularity in the typical way. Yes, Jason Derulo is a huge star, so his name alone is enough to get radio stations to play it…not to mention he has a huge rap star, 2 Chainz, featured on the track. But they also had the help of a few other celebrities. One Direction made a video of themselves dancing to “Talk Dirty,” and sales immediately jumped after One Direction fans heard the song. These One Direction “Talk Dirty” videos have amassed over two million views.

In promotional videos, Jason got artists like Robin Thicke, Larry King, and Ariana Grande to dance and sing along to the song. The combination of the catchiness of the song and the utilization of celebrities has made this song an instant hit. I know every time I hear the song, I can’t help but jam out.

It’s amazing to see the instant success of “Talk Dirty”. It’s Jason Derulo’s fifth Top 5 single, and it has taken the Billboard charts and radio waves by storm.

Jason Derulo: The “Talk Dirty” Phenomenon
Photo courtesy of HypeTrak.