It’s sad to say that when Frank Ocean released a lovely, yet heart-wrenching, cover of “Moon River” last week, many of his fans — young and old! — didn’t realize that it was, in fact, a cover. Not only was he covering the iconic Breakfast At Tiffany’s original, but he is surely not the first to do so. It has been sung by everyone from Barry Manilow to R.E.M. to Neil Diamond to Frank Sinatra. Not to mention that the original song won an Academy Award in 1961 for Best Original Song, and two Grammy Awards in 1962 for Song of the Year and Album of the Year. This song is a true staple in the American music catalog, whether it be in movies, sung at American Idol auditions, or used as a theme song. (Yes, I’m talking about intro to The Andy Williams Show.)
Frank Ocean alone is a heavy, emotional singer, and this cover was completely his cup of his tea, for he did the song so much justice upon performing it last week — on Valentine’s Day nonetheless. The iconic ballad has brought many people to tears for decades, and now this generation is experiencing the waterworks from “Moon River” as sung by Ocean (ironically). His vocals are crisp and pure, cooing the lyrics in a way that does not imitate the original, but still maintains the heartbreak behind it. The hazy background music and subtle instrumentation works alongside the effortless vocals to create a track that is more than divine than anyone could have ever expected.
“Moon River” is a classic. Frank Ocean is a class act. The two together pulled on my heartstrings and made me fall more in love with every verse. As country singer Kacey Musgraves put it, it is “the cover I never knew I needed.” It is dreamy and melancholy. It is ethereal and mysterious. The track is a gorgeous lo-fi masterpiece, but you can’t forget that it’s only his take on the 1961 classic that Audrey Hepburn once gloriously sang.