Odd Future versus Elton John? As the plodding piano stabs that propel Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids” take effect, for a moment it sounds like the Wolf Gang crooner is about to kick a cover of the toupee-topped English pop-rock singer’s “Bennie and the Jets.” He doesn’t — but he does snag a snatch of Mary J. Blige‘s “Real Love” as he performs a sardonic ode to the privileged but dissatisfied set.
Ocean has been performing “Super Rich Kids” on his current tour. At his show in L.A. earlier this week, he stood cock-sure but somewhat lonely on stage — he kept his left hand in his pant pocket and often bowed his head to the floor, as if feigning depression — as he made his way through lyrics like, “Too many white lies and white lines/ Super rich kids with nothing but loose ends /Super rich kids with nothing but fake friends.” Ocean sings in a brilliantly disaffected tone; his voice brings emotion to the content of the lyrics. Over the relatively stripped-down production, the song hints at having the potential to turn into a sing-a-long, stadium-status anthem.
“Super Rich Kids” is ear-marked for Ocean’s upcoming, untitled album. Also slated for the project is “Disillusioned,” another song that finds him emoting over production based around a slinky bass-line and finger snaps, and sometimes switches up into a falsetto voice. The song isn’t too far removed from something in Maxwell‘s early oeuvre of work. Twinned with “Super Rich Kids,” the song demonstrates Ocean’s startlingly mature understanding of the nuances of soul music, past, present and future. Ocean may be young and relatively new to the music scene, but he sings like he’s been doing this for a lifetime. [Watch “Super Rich Kids” here.]