Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Frank Ocean VS. The Weeknd - Who Is Superior? A Near Impossible Decision to Make

There is no doubt that Frank Ocean and The Weeknd have come by storm and revolutionized the R&B genre with absolute sheer success. They have released album after album in the past couple of years that have all been met with universal acclaim. Not only are they changing the R&B genre, but they also helped add an edge to the Hip-Hop genre with their beautifully sung hooks, contributing to artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake, Tyler The Creator, Wiz Khalifa and many more. They have become the modern versions of Nate Dogg (Not based on talent or style but based on appeal to the Hip-Hop genre). There is no doubt that they have left footprints in the music industry that won't wash away for a while. While both artists are great and loved by many, we have to get to the main point; who is better? Frank Ocean or The Weeknd? (Note: Me being Canadian will not make me biased towards The Weeknd by the way!) 

To be honest I almost didn't want to tackle this argument because I have a lot of love for both of these artists and their music. I have purchased both Trilogy (The compilation of House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence) and channel ORANGE on their respective days of release and have listened to them non-stop ever since. I have also listened to Frank Ocean's 2011 debut nostalgia, ULTRA over and over again. I checked as many collaborations I can find that these artists have done and I revisited their albums prior to this blog entry (Which was fun to do!) to make sure my decision is as accurate as possible. Now as much as I love these artists and don't really want to place one over the other, I guess I would have to say that I prefer Frank Ocean's music to The Weeknd's music. Now hold on! Before you say anything I  just want to say that I still got mad love for The Weeknd and I have a lot of respect for him, but I prefer Frank Ocean over him by a hair over a few main reasons. 

First of all, I think Frank Ocean's musical consistency and concept is a little more enjoyable than that of The Weeknd's. Through The Weeknd's mixtapes, Abel revisits the same concepts over and over again. He sings about the hardness of relationships, the exhilaration of the party life and his experiences with drugs and other substances. While he does this consistently and incredibly with lyrics that completely draw you into his stories, he doesn't ever seem to stray off and experiment with something different. Frank Ocean on the other hand, experiments with his music. He sings about topics ranging from love, anxiety, apprehension but also with nostalgia, spirituality, world issues, and how he deals with all the external things that affect his life. You feel a lot more passion in Frank Ocean's songs in the way he embodies the subject matter. He makes you feel for him and feel sympathy for him as well. When listening to The Weeknd's music, you don't feel as sympathetic for the consequences he has to face because you feel like he deserves what he got. I also feel Frank Ocean is better when it comes to storytelling in his songs. Just listen to Novacane, Swim Good, and American Wedding (The latter being one of my favorite Frank Ocean songs) and become absorbed into his world!

While The Weeknd's voice can be a lot stronger on many occasions, I feel Frank Ocean's voice is more real and interesting to listen to. Frank Ocean doesn't need to use any auto-tune or hard hitting production to enhance his voice. He sings naturally and if you listen to his live performances, you don't see a huge difference between his voice on a track and his voice in real life. Frank Ocean is also able to hit high notes beautifully. For example, listen to Bad Religion, especially the chorus and the second half of the song. When he hits "If it brings me to my knees" on the chorus, there's no way you won't get goosebumps. You can also see his vocal range on songs like Sweet Life and on the second chorus of American Wedding. While The Weeknd has a great strong voice, he does use auto-tune to aid the strength of his voice. Now don't get it mixed up when I say he uses auto-tune to aid the strength of his voice. I'm not saying he sings in auto-tune, but he merely uses auto-tune as a tool to carry his voice to higher higher points. He does this very successfully, but it does remove the natural sound of his voice. 

Now I don't want this to sound like I'm bashing The Weeknd, I'm merely comparing him to Frank Ocean and choosing who is better. I knew going into this that it would be a hard decision to make, which is why I hesitated to do this in the first place, but I guess I will always like Frank Ocean just a tiny bit better. I do have to say though that The Weeknd sings beautifully in French, which was only showcased on one song called Montreal on his third mixtape Echoes of Silence. I wish The Weeknd did more songs like this one because his voice fits perfectly with the French lyrics. The Weeknd also is better to listen to when your just feeling down and want to mend a broken heart. Either way, I hate that we have to put one over the other. Why argue which is better when both do what they do exceptionally? It's the equivalence of arguing which is better between 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. (Which I might visit later). But I felt like I needed to do this because my love for Frank Ocean's music has always outweighed that of The Weeknd's music. Either way, both are great artists that are the future of the R&B genre. They both have left their mark in the music industry and I'm sure will have bright futures. 

What do you think? Which artist is better? Frank Ocean or The Weeknd? Should we even compare these two artists? Post a comment and let me know what you think! I would love to hear everyone's opinions. 


  1. I also prefer to listen to Frank Ocean, mainly because the overall mood is lighter yet addresses more themes and can be listened to anytime, where The Weeknd's sound is almost all after-the-club-come-down-sound, but agree that both are amazing artists.
    Favorite Weeknd track: House of Balloons/Glass Tables
    Favorite Frank Ocean track: Pyramids

  2. Thanks for the comment! And yeah i agree with you, i enjoy listening to Frank Ocean because the atmosphere in his songs is great. I don't know what songs i would name my favorite for both artists, but if i had to off the top of my head, it would be American Wedding or Novacane for Frank Ocean and Montreal or High For This for The Weeknd.

  3. this was a very well written "article" of sorts. i have to respect your decision but personally i do prefer
    The Weeknd a ton more. he's so good at embracing the concept of the song lyrically and sonically!
    Frank Ocean comes off as a bit timid in expressing the subject matter in a song, and he's a bit more relaxed, don't get me wrong, he does that very well though. The Weeknd just expresses that agony and pain and fills a void within you at any given time. maybe i'm the one being biased!