Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Song #508 of 9999 - Sweet Life by Frank Ocean

Song #508 of 9999

Title: Sweet Life
Artist: Frank Ocean
Year: 2012
Album: Channel Orange

On December 30, 2012, I was sitting in my regular breakfast joint enjoying a tasty omelet when I struck up a conversation with some dude who was clearly not from around here. To be more precise, he struck up a conversation with me. I mean, I'm not above starting a conversation with a stranger but I had just returned from a week in Colorado and California and I was kind of tired. Anyway, somehow I revealed to the guy that I was a songwriter and he said he was also a songwriter and producer living in LA. I politely said "cool" or whatever and he said "you should send me some of your stuff" and I got his email address and that was the end of it.

That guy was Pharrell Williams. Okay, not really. It was Paul Shelton, aka Paul E. Phamous. But it may as well have been Williams because they had both recently worked with Frank Ocean and I didn't know who any of them were. So now here I am in 2015 writing about songs that came out in 2012 and dammit, I could have been the next Frank Ocean!

I don't have much to say about "Sweet Life" except I just really dig this groove and Ocean's deliciously casual delivery. The song is the only track on Ocean's commercial and critical success penned in part by the now ubiquitous Williams (and his hat). It's worth the spin just for that terrific bass line which lives in the spaces between the beats. But Ocean and Williams deserve additional kudos for keeping the arrangement uncluttered but engaging. I hear tremolo strings, a brass choir, an actual choir, a very faint long delay on the lead vocal—there's a lot going on here besides the bass, drums and electric piano noodling but none of it obtrudes. The syncopated guitar that shows up just to walk you through the outro is also a nice touch.

Mr. Phamous, if you had anything to do with this track, nice work. I'll save a seat for you at On Orange.

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