Frank Ocean, sporting his trademark headband, brought “Thinkin’ Bout You," one of the unlikeliest hits of 2012, to the MTV Video Music Awards stage Thursday. This is a song that's all vocals, and delicate vocals at that.
Ocean's words seemed to disappear in the pauses between the softly strummed acoustic guitar, and credit MTV for playing to Ocean's strengths. As much as his debut, "Channel Orange," experiments with electronics, this is old-school soul music with just a nip of a modern sheen.
The setting was that of a backyard fire, although the giant, "Lost"-like crystals obscured any sense of time and place. No matter, as the closeups were all on Ocean, and as he shifted from graceful singing to wavering falsetto, it was never less than riveting.
This was an awards show embracing an exciting young artist and letting that artist have the floor. Look for Ocean's momentum to continue to pick up, as he'll appear on "Saturday Night Live" next week.