2012 Artist of the Year: Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean had the type of year that sabermetrics junkies would hate. He certainly didn’t sell as many records as Taylor Swift, and his hype machine paled in comparison to those of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown and others who specialize in driving the Internet nuts. On the radio, Maroon 5, Mumford & Sons, Usher, Drake, Justin Bieber and 2 Chainz were more ubiquitous voices. Yet it’s arguable that no other musician had a bigger impact than Frank Ocean, even if it takes a deeper analysis than mere record sales and radio airplay to reach that conclusion.

For starters, channel ORANGE, Frank Ocean’s official debut following last year’s Internet mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, has been universally hailed as an extraordinary record. Nearly every major critic’s list has rated it the best album of 2012. Its sales have been modest, though it should get a boost from a slew of recently announced Grammy nominations, including one for Album of the Year. Its lead single, “Thinkin Bout You” skirted only the lower depths of the Billboard Top 40 Singles chart, though it has fared better on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles list, where it currently sits in the Top 10; in any event, despite its moderate commercial appeal, channel ORANGE was a significant musical event that elicited the kind of 1,000-word, deeply interpretive essays normally reserved for a new Kanye West opus or Swift’s latest million-seller.

Read more of this article on Rhapsody.com.

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