Toss-Ups: blonde or blond?


To present or create anything in an unconventional matter could be coined as game-changing to professional or aspiring individuals within the world of fine arts, especially in regard to music. Recording artists such as Prince and Andre Benjamin solidified their marks as few who have/had stayed true to their craft, and it reflects/has reflected in every step they have/had taken in their respected/respective careers. What one individual could interpret as them “crossing the line” with skin-tight jumpsuits or eyeliner matching colorful wigs during performances, another might consider “a statement” to rid away with gender norms established by society. Their individuality to this day is deemed influential with no cause behind it other than being themselves without having a concern for opinions.

One artist in particular influenced by these great minds is contemporary musician Frank Ocean. The release of Nostalgia, ULTRA in 2011 introduced me to a songwriter who [I perceive] is reclusive in nature, but [emotionally] revealing throughout every track he records. Since then his popularity has grown, and his music catalog is what I believe to be both unconventional and dynamic in the simplest ways. His latest LP, titled blond , was another body of work (as well as the music video released the week before, Endless) I will celebrate in my golden years when they decide cuts from the projects qualify for the “Throwback Thursday” Hour on radio stations back in Columbus. What catches my eye by itself was the very title of the LP: blond. 


blond cover
Album Cover for Frank Ocean’s latest LP, blond (2016)


At first glance I thought of it maybe as a typo; I couldn’t think of a reason why he would release an album with the title [possibly] misspelled in a large, bold, lowercase font. Since it was a digital release only, correcting it from blond to blonde shouldn’t be that much of a hassle, right? Adding to the mystery, I don’t use the word enough in my vocabulary to suggest a correction in defense. Am I wrong for assuming Frank’s spelling of the word is incorrect? What if he thinks that blond is the only way to spell blonde?


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Tweet by @Samso_Tanaka, via Twitter


English alone is enough to make the most fluent speaker from a foreign nation want to forget it in its entirety. After given the thumbs-up, new terms and definitions are gradually added to Webster’s Dictionary (as well as Urban Dictionary) on a regular basis. American English specifically is a never ending word bank that steadily grows [unconsciously] as I type. Other than having different names for daily household items, the United States and the United Kingdom share a handful of words that mean the same thing but are spelled differently [color/colour, fulfill/fulfil, labor/labour]. Arctic Monkeys, a platinum-selling rock band out of England, named their second album Your Favourite Worst Nightmare with the British spelling of the word “favourite” rather than the American spelling “favorite”.


favourite worst nightmare
Album cover for Arctic Monkey’s second LP, Your Favorite Worst Nightmare (2007)


Still, if not a word variant derived from neither the British or Americans, where could Frank have picked up the spelling from? I was determined to understand why something so simple had me questioning the whole damn English language. According to David Hiskey, the blond [or blond] derives from the Old French word “blund” (meaning “a color between golden and light chestnut”); he includes that the words blond and blonde aren’t wholly synonymous! The mere difference of the letter “e” that I believed to be a mistake is applied to clarify it as a feminine form. I’m starting to consider that the distinguishing of blond/blonde is only necessary for French Culture since the word didn’t appear in English until the 17th Century to describe yellow hair.


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Tweet by @JamesMelloh, via Twitter


Early in the semester, I recall my Anthropology Professor dropping knowledge in reference to language in general. I can’t decide which is worse: being in what feels like endless collegiate debt in hopes of achieving my Bachelor of Arts in English, or attending classes that have nothing to do with my major whatsoever because of so-called “state requirements”. He stated people who are recognized as bi-lingual or trilingual possibly think in a different language not relative to my own, meaning [theoretically] these individuals can converse and communicate in English all day but go about the rest of it remembering notes in German. Maybe Frank Ocean was thinking in French when considering titles for the album or fell for a French Native who coincidentally sported a blond head of hair upon their first encounter. A part of me wants to keep digging like the biggest music nerd and attempt to gain perspective on the unconventional titling of the musical composition that is blond. Another part of myself wants to forget ever staying up to over-analyze a hair color in hopes of striking gold with my research.

Once again, Frank proves to be unconventional in the simplest way possible.



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