Blonde Album Cover, version 3: blonde
Blonde Album Cover, version 3: blonde

Blond, Blonde & Blonded: Frank Ocean's New Album Has 3 Official Covers, But What Do They Mean?

Frank Ocean Blond Album Cover

Go ahead and google this phrase: Frank Ocean Blonde album cover. We dare you. The wade through the mess of images that manifest; some from his Boys Don't Cry zineothers simply old promo photos, dated relics of another era of Frank-ness altogether. Those that streamed the album probably only have one cover associated with the release; the image above, with Frank's bandaged hands covering his eyes, close-cropped hair dyed a radiant shade of peacock green. But if you happened to get your hands on the zine and imported the audio from the CD that lays square in the middle of those gargantuan, glossed-out pages, you might notice a few variations--not just on the Blonde album cover, but the album's title as well.

Frank Ocean Blonde Album Cover

Three distinctive versions of the album's cover pop up on the ripped CD, all with their own stylistic take on the album's name: Blonde, Blond and Blonded. Now, it's easy to chalk this up to last-minute alterations in the mad-dash to this massive, multi-layered roll-out, or to dismiss it as artistic indecision. After all, why choose one cover when the internet lets you have all the versions you like (and a 'zine and a film and...and...)

But given the level of artistic care and sheer effort that have gone into the whole complex of creative material released around Blond(e)d we believe there's something else at work. Maybe it's Kanye levels of misdirection, maybe it's another brilliant ploy to keep us neck-deep in the book and not wonder what Frank Ocean's got coming next for another four years. Our guess? the Blond puzzle, seeped in matters of identity, sexuality and non-normative gender roles, is meant to break both the internet and the antiquated lexicon used to describe not just music, but a person's identity within and without it.

Frank Ocean Blonded Album Cover

There is surely some method to the madness when one considers the way the spelling and typographical choices play off gendered constructions, echoing the projects visual and musical themes..."blond" being masculine, "blonde" being feminine and "blonded" being what all of us are in a post-August 20th, 2016 world. At the same time by releasing multiple spellings with graphics that contradict or vary from the official title used by streaming services, Ocean seems to be intentionally messing with us. Like so many things about this release, he's chosen the method of delivery most likely to be indigestible by the giant sorting, tagging and archiving stomach of the internet--while simultaneously making aware of our place in the belly of the beast.

But then again, this is Frank "The Enigma" Ocean we're talking about. He's more than the voice of a generation at this point; he's the artist that your favorite rappers and musicians are trying to keep up with, even after a four year hiatus. That alone is enough to consider Blond(e)d a triumph, however the hell you spell it.

Experience the music behind Frank Ocean's Blonde album covers on iTunes or stream it via Apple Music today.

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