Are Visual Albums Losing Their Meaning: Frank Ocean's 'Endless'
  • FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 2016

  • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

Frank Ocean has been giving us the run around for quite some time now. Ever since the release of his stellar 2012 album, Channel Orange, fans have been hanging onto Ocean begging for more material while he left them dangling. Today, he finally released a visual album Endless, after a solid year of teasing us. The music sounds good, but we don't hear any songs in full, and the video consists of Ocean in a warehouse shot in high contrast black and white, building boxes. After sitting there for forty-five minutes, watching nothing groundbreaking, we ask ourselves, are visual albums losing their meaning?

There are some incredible visual albums (re: Beyonces Lemonade), but it's starting to feel like artists drop visual albums for the sake of dropping visual albums. I strongly believe that visual albums have the potential to be beneficial for enhancing an album as opposed to picking one single out from a record and highlighting it. Albums always were and always should be listened to in full -- not picked apart into tiny three minute pieces so that the listener with ADHD can get their quick and easy satisfaction. Do you think Pink Floyd's "Money" would've been received the same way without the rest of The Dark Side of The Moon? What about The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" without the rest of Sgt. Pepper?

Unfortunately, the industry is growing into a world where the hype built around the album has more influence on the listener rather than the actual album itself (re: Kanye West's sloppy release of Pablo), and although Ocean is undoubtedly an incredible musician and poet, let's face it: his career for the last few years has been strategically sustained via hype rather than actual substance. Call me ignorant, but dropping Endless is simply another way to extend the marketing cycle. It enhances the album in no way shape or form, in fact it made me fall half-asleep and distracted me from the music, as I kept wondering, "Is anything going to happen?" It's self-indulgent, pretentious, and becoming all too predictable. Making a visual album to induce excitement is slowly becoming the new, unexciting norm.
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