"Sweet Life" is a song by American singer Frank Ocean, released as the third single from his debut studio album Channel Orange (2012). The song was written and produced by Ocean and Pharrell Williams, member of the production duo The Neptunes. The track was released on July 6, 2012, when Ocean posted a download of the song onto his Tumblr account, and it debuted on iTunes on July 12. The song features a vocal loop, warm horn sections and lush, tropical production. The song explores a disillusionment and wealth within Ladera Heights and lyrically explores a narrative of people wasting their life away on the beach and Ocean's desire not to involve himself with such a life. The song draws inspiration from Ocean's own early life.
"Sweet Life" is a smooth R&B track with a 1970s aesthetic. The production was described as similar to the work of Stevie Wonder, with elements of
"twinkling Stevie-esque electric piano". It moves between lush jazz-funk and a cappella breakdowns, featuring a massive synth-stoked chorus and scoring similar to that of James Bond end credit theme. The track was described as impressively detailed; containing a below-the-mix vocal loop, warm horns handled by Williams, a perpetually meandering electronic keyboard line. It was noted that it still managed to feel spacious and loose, drawing inspiration from soul songs from the 70's. Live instruments were used during recording, adding a more organic sense to the sound.Ocean makes his vocal presence front center on the track, a move compared to the pomposity of musical choreographer Busby Berkeley, with lyrical influence from Joan Didion and Randy Newman. R&B singer D'Angelo and his album Voodoo was noted as another inspiration. The production was mostly handled by Williams, which has been compared to the type of lush beats found on his recording band's N.E.R.D's albums, notably their debut In Search Of.... The chord progression has been described as signature Williams, serving as a
"jazzy sound bed" for Ocean's vocal performance.
The song is set in Ladera Heights, California, declared as "the black Beverly Hills" by Ocean. Ocean referring it to "the black Beverly Hills also is probably a reference to a scene in the Quentin Tarantino film, Reservoir Dogs. Ocean compares the setting to a domesticated paradise, with palm trees, pools, "whatever feels good". Placed in a tropical setting, Ocean spins a narrative of the finer pleasures of high-class living, and how they can act as blinders to life's expansiveness, with lines such as "you've had a landscaper and a housekeeper since you were born". "Sweet Life" paints a picture of nightmarish disillusionment within the lives of rich people, critiquing their lives as restless and dangerous in nature. Along with Channel Orange track "Super Rich Kids", "Sweet Life" is a commentary of aimless, money obsessed teenagers, with parallels of Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero. The track, much like most of Channel Orange, tells a story about seeming alienation, while also making an argument for the ways in which alienation is humorous, pathetic and at times tender. Ocean's humor is used as a veil for frustration and regret, using irony to pinpoint the absurdity in things.The composition presents a struggle by Ocean to avoid the fripperies of wealth, and serves as a "haunting meditation" on how money makes living well possible, while also noting the downsides it offers.