After four years of silence, Frank Ocean finally opened the flood gates to a whole new world of content Thursday night. It started with a visual album, Endless, and was followed by a magnum opus album, Blonde, on Saturday accompanied by a 360-page print publication titled Boys Don't Cry.
Ocean's thirsty fans immediately began dissecting each fascinating new release and its many layered meanings. One obvious discrepancy stood out like a sore thumb: Is Ocean's second studio full-length titled Blond or Blonde?
Apple Music labeled the album as Blonde, but the cover art on the streaming service clearly styles the album as Blond. Several publications have been styling it as the former, others as the latter. Fans have been debating the merits of each across platforms, but it's possible neither is wrong; it could be both.
The answer to this conundrum may lay hidden in the depths of the English language. The different spellings of the adjective reflect a discrepancy in gender. According to Dictionary.com, "blonde" is technically supposed to be used when describing a fair-haired females, while the word "blond" may be used to more accurately describe a fair-haired male. "Blonde" is rarely used in everyday language, but is technically the more appropriate spelling when referring to either men or women.
The gender discrepancy between these two spellings may be yet another way for Ocean to lean into the album's narratives pertaining to his gender-fluid sexuality.
On each of Ocean's latest releases, the ever-mysterious artist's lyrics shift back and forth between men and women who he's had relations with throughout his life. In Blonde's "Good Guy," he sings of a man he met in New York and shared a connection with, who took him to a gay club. In "Boyfriend" a poem Ocean penned for Boys Don't Cry, he speaks about his love affair with a man he hopes to trust with his whole heart. In the "Nikes" music video, Ocean bends typical concepts of gender identity and relationships while covered in glitter and eyeliner.
Wolfgang Tillmans, the photographer behind Ocean's cover art, and the artist whose track "Device Control" plays at the beginning and end of Endless, revealed to Fader that Ocean had initially spelled his album title as Blonde on his original artwork.
"He text messaged me the final choice of the Blond cover art, now with the dropped 'e' from an earlier version he had sent me a couple of weeks ago," Tillmans explained. "It's been a crazy couple of days."
At this point, it remains unclear whether the use of "Blonde" on the Apple Music release is a mistake or a last-minute switch planned by Ocean — or if the release was always meant to contain both titles. Ocean has historically despised labels, refusing to even label his dynamic, shifting sexuality in any way; refusing to name his album one thing or another might be a part of that mission.
Mic has reached out to Apple Music, and will update this story if we hear back.