Let’s Decode Frank Ocean’s Calvin Klein Ad

What does it mean????

Where in the world is Frank Ocean, you ask? As of Tuesday night, he resides in a little box on your computer screen selling you Calvin Klien underwear as part of the brand’s star-studded fall campaign featuring all the “It” people. But for a man as elusive as Frank Ocean, nothing is ever as it seems. After more or less ghosting on the world (Tumblr not included) following his critically acclaimed album Channel Orange, he’s once again returned this month to troll us with more talk of a release date for a certain overdue follow-up album. Or is he? Let’s play Mr. Ocean’s mind games for just a minute and pretend Boys Don’t Cry will actually fall from the sky this month. Did he just stealthily tease it in his Calvins? Let’s decode!

We must first transcribe Ocean’s musings.

He begins barefoot and awash in ennui inside the pink-hued room he’s apparently been holed up in:

“If you start to have it and, like, you keep it up for four or five weeks and then you stop, you feel like you’re missing something in your day. That’s what music is for me. It feels like a necessary act.”

Translation: See, I have been working!

He moves on from throwing a ball at the wall to doing Michael Jackson lean-walking and moving a glass with mind control, as you do:

“It takes a mind to worry, a conscience to feel ashamed, but there’s no place to hide out here. These skies are filled with planes.”

Translation: These are either lyrics to a half-baked song, a meditation on oppression, paranoid ramblings about drones, or all of the above. Whatever the meaning, he delivers this bit like spoken word. Speculate accordingly.

Suddenly, he’s escaped! To the hallway! With … a Marilyn Monroe impersonator? We must be in Vegas:

“You sort of, like, romanticize something that’s in the past, which is fantasy because it’s not exactly how it went down. Fantasy plays, like, the role of, uh, almost like a supplement. Draw on fantasy to make things hyperreal, I guess … saturate the colors.”

Translation: Don’t even bother trying to figure out who or what this album is about. Just know he’s feeling very Lana Del Rey.

Now, let’s talk imagery.

The whole ad’s on a gradient of colors (indeed, he saturates them all), starting with a blush tone, moving on to orange, then purple, then deep blue, to light blue, back to deep purple, and so on. The light from the window in that isolated room also moves from day to night.

Translation: Happy pride!

Ocean starts off dressed casually in an all-black tee and pants while appearing as the “special guest” on Talk Calvin. But in the room, he watches himself on TV while wearing a black-and-white suit and no shoes.

Translation: Fame is messy.

We see Ocean end up with a Marilyn Monroe look-alike, waxing poetic about romanticizing the past. In a flashback, he’s all alone in that TV studio. Flash forward and he sees Monroe on the blue couch where he once sat. A separate ad reads: “I feel loved in #mycalvins” underneath a still of Ocean and Monroe.

Translation: Love, like this entire charade, is a lie. Probably.

Let’s Decode Frank Ocean’s Calvin Klein Ad