Without any real “hits” to be beholden to, of all the performers tonight, Frank Ocean probably had more directions he could’ve gone in with his performance than anyone. Still, he went with the closest thing he has to a signature single—Channel Orange ballad “Thinkin Bout You,” the most conventional love song in his arsenal (which still contains references to fighter jets and Idaho beach houses, why not), in a stripped-down version with just him singing and a guitarist (who looks like the guy from StainD) in silhouette for accompaniment.
Ocean’s performance had a rawness to it to match his television debut on Fallon a few months back, a kind of no-frills, no-bullshit approach to his heart-rending ballad very reminiscent of Adele’s performance of “Someone Like You” at last year’s awards. The moments where he hit the high notes in his falsetto on the chorus were chilling, but perhaps even more moving where the couple notes he cracked on, just making the performance even more vulnerable and intimate. (Shown in a reaction shot afterwards, Katy Perry had an expression on her face like What the hell was that? We’re pretty sure she meant it as a compliment.)
Only complaint? That weird apocalypse-desert setting that the performance took place in. We’re not sure what Ocean was going for, but we’re gonna go ahead and say that the point was missed. Just get a stool or something next time.