Dark. Energetic. Thrilling. Revolutionizing. Starboy is an album that is the embodiment of art. It’s curator: Abel Tesfaye – more commonly known as The Weeknd.
Dropping hints since the summer, the “King of the Fall” filled his devoted fans with excitement and bewilderment, finally surprising them with the release of Starboy on Black Friday.
A few days before the release of Starboy, Tesfaye pulled what many perceived to be a very successful publicity stunt and marketing tactic for the new album. He cleared his Instagram feed and changed his Instagram name from “abelxo” to simply “theweeknd.” He then posted a new picture with the caption “r.i.p @abelxo,” making it clear that he was trying to rid himself of the image he had built up for years and create a different sound in his music, as done so evidently in Starboy.
The album displays a variety of genres, beats, sounds and meanings. Ranging from the Michael Jackson-influenced sound in “A Lonely Night” to dark, hard bass, horror-like beats in “False Alarm.” Starboy, which features artists such as Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar and Future, displays a new side of Tesfaye, further connecting the pieces of the puzzle that is The Weeknd.
In the record-breaking first single “Starboy,” Tesfaye comes in with Kanye–inspired beats, displaying his rebellion against fame and becoming a pop sell-out – as seen in both his lyrics and his music video.
“Party Monster,” “Attention” and “Six Feet Under” display a side his fans have known well for years, with the drug and sex infused lyrics he’s infamous for, as he complements the songs with edgy, dark tones, and moody, high-pitched vocals that mimic catchy night club hits.
“False Alarm” is a clear indication of his new sound. Drastically different from his generally slow-tempo songs, the track is a fast-paced, energetic, hard hitting song, accompanied by his most violent music video yet, as listeners are tempted to pump their fists to the sound of a crowd chanting “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!”
“Reminder” depicts a classic R&B sound, with its slow beats and mellow tones, resembling the eerie tones that first attracted Tesfaye’s original fan base. The lyrics are also a reference to his opposition to his rise in fame and heavy drug use.
Infused with high-pitched vocals, groovy techno beats, rapid tempo switches – all the ingredients to one of his catchiest songs and a sound unlike any other, “Rockin’’ depicts a more energetic, funkier sound.
As for seeking inspiration from more throwback tones, Abel is known for taking stylistic influences, such as funk beats and upbeat sound from popular songs from the 70s, 80s and 90s, as heard in “Secrets,” “True Colors,” “A Lonely Night,” “Ordinary Life,” “Love to Lay” and “I Feel It Coming.”
He also takes on a more rap and hip hop sound with the songs “Party Monster,” “Six Feet Under” and “All I Know,” which features rap sensation Future.
Although displaying a new, edgier sound, the singer doesn’t shy away from his classic, tragic love stories or hardships growing up, and it reflects in “Nothing Without You,” “Die For You,” and “Sidewalks,” where the heartfelt and emotional lyrics are highlighted.
Ultimately, Starboy serves as a rebirth. The Weeknd reinvents himself, moving fluidly through genres with talent, for the sake of fame, his fans, and himself.
By Valeria Bula