are frank ocean and richard wagner’s opera, “siegfried”, related?

In 2016, Frank Ocean released his sophomore studio album, Blond, in 2016. On that album was the fifteenth track titled “Seigfried”. Take a gander below (also listen to it while you read it, which if you could, kudos to you because that’s impossible for me). Don’t worry, I’m including the lyrics so that you don’t have your volume at 100% to catch every word; I got you.

The markings on your surface
Your speckled face
Flawed crystals hang from your ears
I couldn’t gauge your fears
I can’t relate to my peers
I’d rather live outside
I’d rather chip my pride than lose my mind out here
Maybe I’m a fool
Maybe I should move and settle
Two kids and a swimming pool
I’m not brave (brave)
I’m not brave

I’m living over city
And taking in the homeless sometimes, uh
Been living in an idea
An idea from another man’s mind
Maybe I’m a fool
To settle for a place with some nice views
Maybe I should move, settle down
Two kids and a swimming pool
I’m not brave
I’d rather live outside
I’d rather live outside
I’d rather go to jail
I’ve tried hell (It’s a loop)
What would you recommend I do?
(And the other side of the loop is a loop)
This, this fe-, this feel
This feel, this feels
This feels how molly must feel
This feels how molly must feel
How molly must feel, this feels how molly must feel
How molly must feel

This is not my life
It’s just a fond farewell to a friend
It’s just a fond farewell to a friend
This is not my life
It’s just a fond farewell to a friend
It’s not what I’m like
It’s just a fond farewell (brave)

Speaking of Nirvana, it was there
Rare as the feathers on my dash from a phoenix
There with my crooked teeth and companion sleeping, yeah
Dreaming a thought that could dream about a thought
That could think of the dreamer that thought
That could think of dreaming and getting a glimmer of God
I be dreaming of dreaming a thought
That could dream about a thought
That could think of dreaming a dream
Where I cannot, where I cannot

Less morose and more present
Dwell on my gifts for a second, a moment
One solar flare, we’re consumed
So why not spend this flammable paper on the film that’s my life?
High flights, inhale the vapor, exhale once and think twice
Eat some shrooms, maybe have a good cry about you
See some colors, light hang glide off the moon

(In the dark, in the dark)
I’d do anything for you
(In the dark)
I’d do anything for you
(In the dark)
I’d do anything for you
(In the dark)
I’d do anything for you
(In the dark)
I’d do anything for you, anything for you
(In the dark)
I’d do anything for you, anything for

Let’s scratch the surface; Frank’s “Seigfried” addresses issues he has with society and his lifestyle. He feels as if he is out of place with the people he surrounds himself with and seems to be lying to himself. Rather than facing what’s really happening inside (he’s bisexual, if you didn’t know — if you’re under the age of 16, it was not cool to be LGBT prior to 2010-ish), he lives his life fitting in with the status quo of that time — the fact that being LGBT wasn’t cool. Because of this, he admits he’s not brave enough to accept his reality. Richard Wagner’s opera, “Siegfried”, is completely opposite. The main character, Siegfried (who is based on the German mythological figure, Sigurd) is a strong masculine man with long, blonde flowing locks that a lot of girls (and my gays) fawn over.  I mean, he could also have short hair, as long as he’s hot and masculine. Thus, you have Siegfried. Oddly enough, Siegfried is eager to realize what fear is — right, who wants to know what that is?? Crazy.

I firmly believe Frank Ocean’s always had some sort of interest in Siegfried.

The title track of his first mixtape, nostalgia,ULTRA is named “Soul Calibur”. Soulcalibur is a video game series with the main protagonist based on Siegfried, himself. It’s obvious that Frank had interest in Siegfried early on, hence why it’s justified to compare this song to the German hero.

It’s funny to note that what Frank wants completely contradicts who Siegfried is as a character: Frank wants to accept and embrace his sexual orientation and emotional openness. This completely combats the stoic masculinity expected from a man, like Siegfried. That said, doesn’t Siegfried combat that image of masculinity, himself? What “masculine man” wants to admit that he’s fearful? Men have NO FEAR. So the question now lies: how does one go about achieving these desires?

And then there’s Mime.

Mime is a character in Wagner’s “Siegfried” who has a secret desire for world domination. Well Mime, get in line. The only way to do that is to kill the mighty dragon, Fafner. Well, the only way the dragon could be killed is by the thrust of a sword pierced by a man who holds no fear. That’s Siegfried.

In the bridge, the lines “This is not my life / It’s just a fond farewell to a friend” samples from Elliot Smith’s “A Fond Farewell”. Both he and Frank realize that how they are living life just isn’t working for them. Funny enough, Elliot refers to his use of heroin as a means to fulfilling his happiness and purpose.

Think about this: Mime is Siegfried’s “heroin”.

Heroin makes it seem like its there to help; its mission for you is to chase the dragon to gain what you are looking for. Siegfried is chasing the dragon to kill it and realize what he’s missing — fear. And with the realization of fear comes power — knowledge is power. All in the while, the more you want to chase the dragon, the more you rely on heroin to do so. So that’s what Siegfried is doing: even though he doesn’t really like Mime because he’s more of a nuisance, he relies on him hes become dependant on for fear he cant do it on his own (which he actually does feel fear, but cant identify it it) to learn and understand what fear is, which will make him feel happy.

However, Mime can’t kill the dragon, only Siegfried can because he has no fear. After realizing the prophesy that Siegfried would kill him after defeating the dragon, Mime decides he would poison Siegfried to kill him, thus saving Mime’s life and gaining domination. Thus, Mime wants to kill the heroine, Siegfried, to achieve domination (wow, this pun is pretty dark). Just like heroin wants to achieve domination over your body, it’ll keep you around and poison you to achieve that domination (a bit of a skewed idea that could be developed, which no worries, someday you’ll read about it here on this blog — I’ll be sure to link back to this article if I remember).

Once you die… well does the heroin really obtain power or did it just kill you to achieve dominance over you?

Doesn’t really click, right? Well, I feel the same about Mime. He wants to kill Siegfried to obtain world domination, but Siegfried will get in the way of that if he kills Mime (you stop using heroin). Rather that, Mime will kill Siegfried to prevent that, thus continuing dominance; except don’t you need Siegfried to kill the dragon and gain power? No logic, but whatever. I guess it’s a selfish thing. Heroin is selfish, guys. It kind of does make sense in reference to Frank Ocean: society wants to dominate him with its status quo, even if it kills who he truly is as a person. As long as society gets what it wants and Frank doesn’t break from its mission of maintaining the status quo, that’s all that matter. No sense whatsoever.

Well Siegfried see through Mime’s trickery and decides “girl, bye”, killing him off so he can continue his pursuit of learning fear and thus finding happiness. Oh, I forgot to mention: Siegfried has already successfully killed the dragon, giving him powers to see through Mime’s B.S. This just proves that killing the dragon helped him to realize that he didn’t need Mime all along to realize fear, just like you don’t need heroin to find happiness. Just like Elliot Smith wants to give up on heroin and find happiness in his life, Frank wants to leave his past behind him to find his happiness. A ton of happiness!!

Siegfried does realize fear when he meets his lover and they kiss. Frank realizes what he wants and needs and can now start to change his lifestyle to finally be happy in his reality. Unfortunately, Elliot died. Damn.

So are Frank Ocean and Siegfried similar?

I believe so, but not quite obvious. Even though they are different in their attitudes and their approach to like, they still desire the same things that don’t fit with the status quo. That’s why I found it interesting that Frank decided to spell the title track with the ‘i’ and ‘e’ flipped in “Sieg-“. He also spells “blonde” without the ‘e’. Maybe he’s alluding that even though they’re spelled differently, they’re still similar (obviously in pronunciation). ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Obviously, Frank Ocean doesn’t follow Wagner’s opera to a T. Frank Ocean’s song is quite mellow whereas Wagner is pretty in-your-face — opera ladies and gentlemen. However, their use of German mythology interestingly shows how even pop and opera can be influenced by the same subject matter — it refreshingly shows us as an audience how connected these two genres are together.

To being a MAN! And woman. Let’s be honest, we should all just be women, they have it figured out. Or just people. No genders… eh I’m getting into sticky territory now. OK BYE.

Zach Aldana
I am a musician with a focus in voice. I studied music during my undergraduate years, receiving a degree in Music at the University of Illinois at Chicago. My musical experience stems back from when I was three years old singing in a church choir. 22 years later, I've participated in numerous choirs, some of which have toured internationally from South Korea to Wales. I am also a classically trained singer, performing solos around the world, most notably for Kelly Clarkson's Piece by Piece World Tour at the Allstate Arena in 2015. Aside from performing, I also enjoy songwriting, analyzing music, and of course, stating my opinion about all things music. Aside from that, I am a graphic designer and web developer. I began graphic and web design at the age of eight. In time, I have been commissioned to help schools and universities, businesses, and personal clients develop their presentation and online exposure. ​

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