Frank Ocean is known for making some amazing music. But it’s perhaps the many sad Frank Ocean songs that sit with us the most as listeners and fans. So in this article, I’m going to share my top picks for the saddest songs made by the talented Frank Ocean.
Best Sad Frank Ocean Songs
Let’s begin with song that has such an appropriate title given the nature of this article: “There Will Be Tears.”
There Will Be Tears
Frank Ocean grew up without his dad and was raised by a single mother. The only father figure he had was his grandfather, and while he was grateful, it’s not the same. Perhaps the biggest difference in being raised by someone multiple generations older than you is that there’s even less of a guarantee that they’d get to watch you grow up. Death is inevitable, and as one ages, it becomes even more inevitable.
So, There Will be Tears was born after the death of his grandfather, the pain of which was magnified even more with the absence of his biological father (“’you can’t miss what you ain’t had’, well I can, I’m sad”). He begins the song commending how wonderful it was to know someone like his grandfather, and how sorrowful it was to know their time together was expiring. As the song progresses, the tone becomes less endearing and angrier. It’s clear that now he’s talking about another man, one who was never there for him to begin with.
He wonders why his father couldn’t just say that he wouldn’t be there for his son. Being an absent father, especially to a son who has become extremely successful in multiple facets, is shameful to say the least. Ocean wants to hear these words come out of his father’s mouth, though, despite years of his absence. “Why couldn’t you say to me, you won’t be there? You could’ve warned me.”
If you’re looking for one of the most emotional Frank Ocean songs, you’ve found it with “There Will Be Tears.”
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In this ballad about young love, Frank talks about watching someone fall out of love with him while he’s left to deal with the consequences. He knows the two are growing apart from each other but can’t help from saying “keep a place for me” followed by “I’ll sleep between y’all, it’s nothing,” as if being a third party in a relationship that isn’t his is easier than letting someone go.
He says this person made him lose his self-control, which is unusual for him. He will always remember them in that way, and fondly so, but he hates to think that they might not remember him so easily. He feels that things wouldn’t be ending between them if they’d grown up on the same advice, hinting that the relationship failed because the other person wasn’t mature enough.
High-pitched vocals are featured in parts of this song, possibly alluding to their youth. He says this person sees him like a UFO (“that’s like never”) because while he lost his self-control with this person, the inverse was true for them. He made them use theirs, creating a balance that could’ve been perfect if the timing was right.
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Bad Religion touches on multiple relevant and powerful topics. The song begins by Frank getting in a taxi and saying, “taxi driver, be my shrink for the hour,” continuing to tell the driver to leave the meter running and drive wherever he wants, “just outrun the demons, would you?”
Maybe Frank doesn’t have anyone in his personal life he feels safe confiding in. But the taxi driver still tells him, “’boy you need prayer’” to which Frank responds, “I guess it couldn’t hurt me,” right before delving into the chorus which says, “if it brings me to my knees, it’s a bad religion.” In a literal sense, he doesn’t feel like repenting and begging for forgiveness simply for being human is logical or beneficial.
In this case, the “religion” could be interpreted as putting someone on a pedestal and being so infatuated with them, only for the feeling to not be reciprocated. Frank says, “I could never make him love me,” and compares unrequited love to being in a cult, holding a Styrofoam cup filled with cyanide. Not only is his love unrequited, but it’s also a homosexual love, which is frowned upon by many religious people. He sees someone as a God-like figure, someone who doesn’t care for him. But along with this, he feels like he can’t even turn to God for comfort.
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Miss You So
Miss You So appears on one of Frank’s many unreleased albums, The Lonny Breaux Collection. It was created as a demo track, and now is officially out and was given to singer Conor Maynard under the title “Pictures.” Ocean’s original version is much rawer and more emotional, as he managed to make simple lyrics sound complex with the longing tone he’s mastered.
The song is about Frank’s ex-girlfriend leaving him, and she took their pictures with her, so he was left with nothing. Being “left with nothing” after a breakup is a common theme in music, so the pictures could be symbolic of her taking his love with her. In the chorus, which is quite catchy, he says he was always taking pictures so he didn’t miss anything, and they were all he had left.
He says, “my camera’s shed some tears since you left him,” as if he thought she’d feel more sympathy for inanimate objects than she felt for him, one last plea to get her to see him again. The pictures were part of their story, and he took so many because he didn’t want to miss her so bad. Ironically, looking back on pictures tends to enhance feelings of grief. And despite all the pictures he took, “my Nikon wasn’t fast enough to catch my heart break in half.”
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Ivy begins with the line, “I thought that I was dreaming when you said you loved me,” as Frank reminisces on a past love. Maybe it was a right person wrong time situation, or maybe they outgrew each other naturally (“we’ll never be those kids again”). It is a bittersweet thought that we outgrew the childlike wonder we had in younger days, but at the same time, Frank makes peace with this.
It appears to be a ballad about one person, but more so missing the past and a period of life than missing this person specifically. He takes note of how “everything sucked back then” but they were still kids and had time to kill. The melody is peaceful, yet poignant, as he comes to terms with the fact that he’ll never get this person, or that time, back.
Siegfried, also called Sigurd, was a prince and hero in German literature who killed a dragon and was well-respected. Seigfried, the song’s title, is a misspelling of the name Siegfried, who was brave and inspirational. In Ocean’s song, he admits that he feels quite the opposite of these traits, shouting multiple times between verses, “I’m not brave.”
He doesn’t relate to the people around him and talks about settling down somewhere quiet with two kids instead of living in a bustling city. He says he’s been “living in an idea, maybe I’m a fool to settle for a place with nice views.” He would rather live outside or go to jail than continue his life as it is. While the song is clearly an introspection into his deepest thoughts, it seems to be a ballad as well, but perhaps to himself.
“This is not my life, it’s just a fond farewell to a friend.” He also asks for advice during the song, but it seems that he needs to help himself more than anything, and he knows this. He appears to be distraught about a relationship, which may have caused this spiral into wanting to move and start a new life. The last part of the song repeats the line “I’d do anything for you, in the dark.” The “in the dark” plays in a more distant tone, as if he isn’t ready to accept that he doesn’t mean as much to this person as he wishes he did. Seigfried is a somber goodbye to a lover, but also to a part of Frank himself that he doesn’t want to be anymore.
Nikes is about the materialistic tendencies that people take on in the postmodern world. He begins the song talking about how women want Nikes and they’re “looking for a check (tell ‘em it ain’t likely”). He says they want a “ring like Carmelo” (a reference to Carmelo Anthony, NBA player who never won any championships). He then says, “must be on that white like Othello,” a reference to cocaine but also Shakespeare’s play, where women appear to be angels but are really quite the opposite.
But the song isn’t only about tangible greed. In our society today, superficialness in the sense of caring about how much someone’s shoes cost is prevalent, but so is superficial love. It’s easier to express yourself in a way that is easily recognizable to others, instead of being vulnerable. In the second verse, Frank says, “he don’t care for me, but he cares for me, and that’s good enough.” He knows he’s not important to his loved one but would rather be a part of his life, albeit small, than not be there at all.
This song opens painting the picture of someone going on a drive to clear their heads, together. “It’s bad luck to talk on these rides, mind on the road / watch the clouds float,” as two people spend a serene moment together on an open road. This seems to be symbolic of rolling along with whatever life hands you, and the White Ferrari represents Frank’s time with this person.
The song is four verses with no chorus, and each verse is equally heart-wrenching. It appears to be a chronological unfolding of this relationship, from the hopeful beginning to the disappointing end. It’s clear that they were becoming less connected, though Frank says he’ll always care for this person. In the last part of the song, Ocean hints at their polar differences which could’ve led to the end of their time together. “I’m sure we’re taller in another dimension, you say we’re smaller, it’s not worth the mention.”
Godspeed is a peaceful farewell to someone, though it’s unclear what sort of relationship they had to Frank. In his fashion, it could be about multiple people, or even about himself. He did create a Tumblr post which explained some of the song’s backstory, saying that the song was a “reimagined part of my boyhood.” It seems that he’s trying to give himself closure about a loss.
This person does appear to have had a positive impact on Frank’s life, as he wishes them “Godspeed, glory,” and says, “there will be mountains you won’t move.” He recognizes that no one is perfect, but that’s what he finds special. “You look down on where you came from sometimes, but you’ll have this place to call home, always.”
Dear April is about watching a relationship fade away due to infidelity. He begins the song saying that “April” was “the only face in the crowd that I knew,” and then asks, “are you watching him dance?” knowing that no matter how much he loves someone, he can’t make them reciprocate the same care that has has.
He wonders if his relationship with this person was some sort of divine connection, meant to teach him a lesson. He wonders if all it takes is causing two strangers’ paths one time to cross to change both of their lives forever. Despite the pain it caused him, he’s grateful he got opportunities to grow. “I believe that no matter what it makes us new.”
Frank Ocean is the sort of genius mind that only comes around once in a while. His talent is undeniable, and his lyrics have a depth to them that don’t have to be understood to be felt. Despite not having released music in years, the raw emotions that come out in his voice keep fans listening.