R&B Artist The Weeknd Furthers Variety of Talent in New Album

by Alex Nnabue ‘18

A year after 2015’s successful album “Beauty Behind the Madness,” The Weekend released his fourth studio album, “Starboy,” on November 25, consisting of collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Future, Lana Del Rey, and Daft Punk. Prior to the release, the R&B-alternative artist referred to the album as a new chapter and beginning. This is evident by how he symbolically dies in his “Starboy” music video and destroys his awards that are metaphoric of his former self.

In the lead-up to the album release, The Weeknd released the singles “Starboy,”“I Feel it Coming,” “Party Monster,” and “False Alarm,” along with a short film titled “Mania” that includes snippets of songs to preview the diversity of the album. “Starboy” boasts 18 tracks with musical styles from the various genres of R&B and pop with 80s and modern styles to confirm the previews.

The opening tracks include the album-titled and Daft Punk-produced hit “Starboy.” The chorus discusses his rise to fame by telling listeners to “Look what you’ve done” as he is now a major star. He proceeds to contemplate his fame and materialistic lifestyle when he sings, “We don’t pray for love, we just pray for cars.” Although the song “Party Monster,” featuring Lana Del Rey, has a slightly darker tone, both songs are catchy mainstream tracks that The Weeknd typically releases, destined for endless radio play.

However, those more predictable tracks are instantly followed by the bold and explosive “False Alarm” which exemplifies dance-punk with exciting beats accompanied by chants. The song sets the stage for the unpredictable ones ahead. Other key tracks on “Starboy” include its best slow jams, “Die For You” and “True Colors” that highlight the artist’s more authentic and R&B-inspired vocals.

“Reminder” is a song filled with mellow-beats while referencing The Weeknd’s ironic 2016 Kids Choice Award win and abrupt entrance into mainstream pop. The lyrics “reminds” listeners of the mature theme of his music as he insists, “Every time we try to forget who I am, I’ll be right there to remind you again.”

“Sidewalks,” which features Kendrick Lamar, is yet another strong track on the album as the two artists reflect on their upbringings. In one memorable line, The Weeknd exaggeratedly brags that he went from “homeless to Forbes’s List.” “Six Feet Under,” featuring Future, is reminiscent of their previous collaboration on Future’s “Low Life.”

The album is also filled with funky and dance-club songs that include “Rockin” and “Love to Lay.” They are heavily influenced by pop and cater to fans who enjoy his newfound style. “Secrets” is another catchy song that is compelling and 80s inspired. “Starboy” concludes with the feel-good and catchy track produced by Daft Punk, “I Feel it Coming,” which incorporates disco-era beats that sound like a tribute to Michael Jackson.

“Starboy” is a lengthy album that at points can be repetitive and unfocused, as well as give the impression that The Weeknd still is struggling to find his musical identity. However, it does contain potentially influential tracks. It also provides plenty of hope to fans who were concerned that the artist had abandoned his original sound and transitioned too far into pop after his last two studio albums. However with “Starboy,” he maintains his unique voice and flow that initially hooked listeners. “Starboy” constantly switches from club songs and ecstatic pop to electro funk and heartfelt ballads. For better and worse, the variety of tracks has something for all listeners.