What will you be listening to this Weeknd?

Lora Neshovska, Features Editor

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After two studio albums Trilogy and Kiss Land, Canadian artist Abel Tesfaye, predominantly recognized by his pseudonym, The Weeknd released a brand new, third album. Beauty Behind the Madness revealed 14 brand new songs written by Tesfaye, true to his seductively dark style of lyrics.
Before the release of the album, The Weeknd hooked listeners with his radio-ready singles. With its’ catchy chorus and funk feel, “Can’t Feel My Face” was released early June and made it to the first spot of Billboard’s Top 100 in mid-August.  It may not be a coincidence that it was the only non-explicit song on the album. This certainly brought The Weeknd a newfound fan base, which can somewhat explain the success of his new work. The album features an array of artists and differs from anything Tesfaye has done before.
Experimenting with a variety of sounds, The Weeknd includes Lana Del Rey, Ed Sheeran and British R&B artist, Labrinth in his new album. Kanye West produces and co-writes “Tell Your Friends”, a classic soul-inspired collaboration. It almost seems as if The Weeknd was going for a mix of 1980’s Michael Jackson and a drugged Bruno Mars. Regardless, the outcome of Tesfaye’s adaptations to popular music gave him a rightfully earned spot at the top of the charts this summer.
The newly released album navigates a variety of musical elements, such as pop, funk, electronic and R&B. Featuring jazzy piano solos and horn instrumentals, songs such as “Often” and “The Hills” give the album an old-school, vintage feel.
“Acquainted” and “Shameless” resemble Tesfaye’s previous works with the slow beat and melody. However, the remainder of the album goes into a complete new direction.
While the complexity of the lyrics may have increased, The Weeknd has stuck by his distinguishably dark text sang in a hopelessly monotonous tone.
To accentuate the desensitized motif in his new project, Tesfaye invites Lana Del Rey, the queen of apathy, to appear on his album. As expected, the song is borderline depressing, with a bitter hint of romance.
The Weeknd confessed “She [Lana] is the girl in my music, I am the guy in her music. She was definitely the first feature I wanted to bring on this album”.
Lana del Rey and Tesfaye both create music depicting escapism, with their explicit drug, alcohol and sex references. Together, they admit “I’m a prisoner to my addiction, I’m addicted to a life that’s so empty and so cold.” Those lyrics could not be any more emotionally unavailable.
Ed Sheeran’s contribution to the album wasn’t as fitting, however. Apparently, “the song was kind of spontaneous.”, The Weeknd admits. The two artists sound like they could collaborate well due to their style similarities, but their voices didn’t quite match up in “Dark Times”. The piece is slow and soulful, but the lyrics and the melody quickly bores the listener.
Almost five years ago, when Tesfaye first began being recognized on a much smaller-scale, he was a secretive shadow behind his soulfully explicit lyrics. Tesfaye is now a well-known artists whose “romantic” lyrics, “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you” are now sung by nearly everyone, regardless of how often they tune into the radio. It seems that by pursuing Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd really aimed to bend his boundaries and produce a new sound. “In a span of like a month, we did so many songs,” Tesfaye recalls. With the finished product, it’s almost as if he is straying away from being so enigmatic and is embracing his newfound fame accordingly.
The full Beauty Behind the Madness is out now and is available to stream on YouTube and Spotify.
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