Nearly every music site that I follow has Frank Ocean’s album, “channel Orange” near or at the top of their 2012 album of the year lists. Last year, I don’t think I would have been able to place the name, let alone guess that he was a musician. So why is this the record that everyone is talking about?

Well, take a listen to my favourite track off the album, “Pyramids”:

I myself am not an avid fan of R&B music, especially not anything that’s come out in the last twenty years or so. I find it to be repetitive and redundant all too often, and therefore I usually just skip it altogether. But “channel Orange” had an awful lot of hype surrounding it’s release, so I gave it a listen. It was, on first listen, okay.

I listen to a lot of music, and again, I’m not a huge R&B fan, so I sort of moved on to the next new thing after a couple of days.

But I found that I would be listening to my iPod on the metro or while walking, and I would stop to listen to his tracks when other songs would just get skipped over. This happened again and again, until “Pyramids” cracked my top twenty played songs in my collection, and one day I had it on repeat and must have heard it a dozen times.

The album plays fast and loose with the traditional R&B tropes. The lyrics are clever, original, narrative, and don’t drone on. Ocean himself just sounds cool all through the album. The production takes risks, and makes sure to try and avoid sounding like the rest of the pop/radio/R&B tracks that come out all year, every year, and in mixing in electronic and guitar make it sound a little bit more like Kid Cudi or Gnarls Barkley and a little less like Beyonce.

A lot of people gave this record press coverage after Frank Ocean revealed in an interview that he is gay, but I find that type of reporting both sensational and tacky. I’m talking about this record because the music is good.  It is good, very good, and that’s why it’s gotten such rave reviews and is topping so many “best of 2012” lists.

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