The Weeknd’s “Starboy” album is fearless and brilliant, an unvarnished look into the Canadian falsetto singer’s life of stardom. Abel Tesfaye has reinvented himself for this album, with the cover art featuring his new haircut, with his music moving away from his dark and depressed tones to a more pop-oriented album, aimed at mainstream media with this diverse album.
The 18-track album, released on Nov. 25, clocks in at one hour and eight minutes and features Daft Punk, Future, Kendrick Lamar and Lana del Rey. As promotion for the album, The Weeknd released a short film titled “Mania”, two days before the album came out, previewing songs to get fans excited for the upcoming album.
The Weeknd first saw fame after releasing albums “Trilogy” and “Kiss Land.” He used to be homeless but after releasing these two albums, his life went to stardom and fame. As The Weeknd discusses in this album, he worked his way to the top from being homeless, specifically after his “House of Balloons” mixtape showcased in compilation album “Trilogy.” The main topic of the album discusses this journey and what it’s like to be one of the most recognized names in hip-hop.
2016 has seen delayed release dates from many hip-hop artists and rappers, from Frank Ocean’s “Blonde” to Kanye West’s “The Life of Pablo.” “Starboy” is an exception in the hip-hop genre. The Weeknd stayed true to his initial release date and and followed through, with a few songs being released beforehand.
Source: “TheWeekndVEVO” Youtube channel.
Leading up to the album, The Weeknd shared the singles “Starboy,” “False Alarm,” “I Feel it Coming” and “Party Monster”. “Starboy” was met with praise and was immediately played on mainstream radio and “Party Monster” pushed boundaries with a dark-pop style and embodied what the album stands for: The Weeknd’s new-found life of stardom, exposing his aggressive side. Although it is much tamer than his previous tracks, it still packs a punch.
An often overlooked aspect of music is transitioning between songs. However, “Starboy” does not fall to this fallacy. Each song seamlessly transitions to the next song.
Kendrick Lamar, featured in the the track “Sidewalks”, taps into his “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City” and “Section.80” style to bring back his old-school vibes, creating a relaxed and immersive environment for the listener. Lana del Rey, featured in “Stargirl Interlude”, a short track referencing to the success of Abel as a “Starboy”, who happens to need another half to complete him. Future and The Weeknd have proved in the past that they can collaborate with Low Life in Future’s EVOL album. Future’s raspy voice, featured in “All I Know”, compliments the falsetto voice of The Weeknd, and the duo successfully make a good song.
The album starts with the familiar single “Starboy.” The song foreshadows what is to come in the album: the Weeknd’s life of stardom after releasing albums “Trilogy” and “Kiss Land” which is later discussed in “Sidewalks”. The perfect marriage between Daft Punk’s beat and the Weeknd’s voice in the title track “Starboy” and “I Feel It Coming” create an immersive, fast-paced beat.
The Weeknd is undoubtedly a gifted vocalist and songwriter, but his thirst for mainstream status is leading him down the wrong path. The Weeknd’s use of heavy autotune in the album took away from the album altogether. For example, “Sidewalks”, which was a great song with many prominent aspects such as the Kendrick Lamar feature, the guitar-based beat and definitely the lyrics. However, the autotune was misplaced and took away from the song. Nevertheless, the album was well produced and will make history.
That being said, “Starboy” remains to be The Weeknd’s most unique album since his debut. His music style has been reinvented with more up-beat tunes under the pop genre, branching away from his slow R&B style. The Weeknd is light years away from his old-school “Trilogy” era, in both song template and writing. This newfound style shows how deep his pockets are as a musician, and the excellence of the album suggests that he is only gaining strength.