May 31, 2020

Christopher Edwin Breaux, better known as Frank Ocean, is a storyteller before all else. His songs often tell an intricate tale in a matter of minutes. On the artist’s sophomore studio album Blonde, he uses his narrative ability to reflect on his own life. On one track in particular, “Self Control,” he sings of love, loss, and bad timing. The songwriter uses literary devices such as juxtaposition and flashback to weave a plot sad enough to leave listeners winded. In this essay, we will unpack “Self Control” and analyze the methods Ocean used to craft one of the most heartbreaking ballads in music’s recent history. 

So what makes this song so goddamn sad?

Before diving into our analysis of Frank Ocean’s “Self Control,” there is something that must be understood. Throughout “Self Control” – and the rest of Blonde – Ocean transitions between his normal voice and altered, high-pitched voices. The varied voices are more than...

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