Frank Ocean has released "Blonde," his second album in as many days, turning the enigmatic R&B crooner's comeback into both a test of endurance and an ambitious reworking of the album release. After weeks of rumors, the singer on Saturday released "Blonde," the official follow-up to his heralded, Grammy-winning 2012 major-label debut, "Channel Orange." The 17-track LP is available exclusively to Apple Music streaming subscribers, with one exception: Copies of the work accompanied a free print publication titled "Boys Don't Cry" at pop-up shops in cities including New York, Chicago, London and Los Angeles (on Fairfax Avenue). Dozens of pop music heavyweights are credited on the album including Andre 3000, Beyoncé, James Blake, Jamie XX, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Malay, Om'Mas Keith, Tyler the Creator, Rick Rubin and Pharrell Williams. David Bowie, Elliott Smith and the Beatles are also credited as contributors, though it is unclear if Ocean is crediting samples or if he got his hands on unreleased recordings.
The return of Frank Ocean continues: A day after the surprise release of his visual album "Endless," the enigmatic singer dropped a new single, "Nikes," early Saturday morning while fans wait for the expected release of yet another album, the official follow-up to 2012's "Channel Orange." "Nikes," released directly to Apple Music, is a powerful reminder of why the four-year wait for Ocean's return has felt so excruciating. I got twoooo versions," the song opens, both a nod to his own cryptic announcement a year ago about his new music and possibly a clue about the singer's intentions with this dual offering of music. And that "two versions" theme extends to how Ocean presents himself on the new track -- his delicate falsetto weaving between an Auto-Tuned chirp and a woozy slowed-down vocal. The Huntington Library has launched a crowdsourcing project in which volunteers will transcribe or decipher nearly 16,000 Civil War telegrams from Abraham Lincoln, his Cabinet and Army officers.
When Frank Ocean fan Cornelius Wells heard news of a surprise, promotional pop-up shop opened by the R&B singer on Saturday afternoon, Wells was in the midst of driving to the Inland Empire to drop off a friend. Wells saw that Ocean, who hadn't released a new record since the Grammy-winning album "Channel Orange" in 2012, had posted on his website an address in West Hollywood, along with others in London, Chicago and New York. Could it mean that the enigmatic artist was at long last releasing a much anticipated new album? "We made a U-turn immediately," said Wells, standing outside that address near the intersection of Fairfax and Melrose avenues, which normally houses the Centerfold International Newsstand. His friend, Nicholas Lores, was supposed to be at a family function but peer pressure won out.
That was one of the feel-good aphorisms Chris Martin dispensed Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, just before he led his band Coldplay in "Everglow," a gently rolling piano ballad about the connection that can link two people even after a breakup. The song -- from Coldplay's most recent album, last year's "A Head Full of Dreams" -- is widely assumed to describe Martin's relationship with his ex-wife, Gwyneth Paltrow, from whom he "consciously uncoupled" (to use their oft-quoted neologism) in 2014. But at the Rose Bowl, in front of a huge audience in the tens of thousands, Martin was widening the song's scope, reframing "Everglow" as a kind of prayer for reconciliation in battle-scarred places like Orlando, Fla., Germany and Baton Rouge, La. He asked the crowd to send "good vibes" to the people of those areas -- people whose faith in others had been shaken -- and fans responded by swaying to the music as meaningfully as they could. Coldplay performs at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
Lou Pearlman, the disgraced music impresario who launched the Backstreet Boys, NSync and other boy bands in the 1990s before being convicted of a Ponzi scheme, has died at 62, according to the prison where Pearlman was serving a 25-year sentence. The former producer and manager died Friday at the the Federal Correctional Institution in Texarkana, Texas, where he was held after pleading guilty in 2008 to charges that included conspiracy and money laundering. Pearlman ushered in the boom of pop boy bands after he was enamored with the success of New Kids on the Block. He started a company, Trans Continental Records, that launched to stardom the Backstreet Boys -- its five members selected by Pearlman in a talent search. Pearlman later repeated the formula with NSync.