Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye released his third studio album, Starboy, on the 25th November 2016. It rapidly shot to number one on the US Billboard Top 100, going double platinum in June 2017, whilst the single of the same name hit number one in 8 countries. So, one year after The Weeknd rose to global stardom, released his own clothing line with H&M and Puma, and featured on singles with many other artists such as; Lana Del Ray, and French Montana, how does his most successful album to date hold up one year on?  

The record starts with Daft Punk’s electronic beats and the Weeknd beautifully singing about the dark side of fame and fortune. Instantly, the song ‘Starboy’ cements itself as potentially the strongest record on the album. The song ‘Reminder’ features a brilliantly conscious rap performance from the Weeknd himself and proves that he is a man of many talents. The album attempts to tell the story about the Weeknd and the ‘stargirl’ and features on songs such as ‘Secrets’, ‘Stargirl Interlude’, and ‘Love to Lay’. It tells a tale of a one-sided romance and the emotions it stirs up. The story comes full circle as Abel just accepts the relationship for what it is on another fantastic feature from Daft Punk, ‘I Feel It Coming’; which concludes the album with a fantastic throwback to vintage 90’s dance.  

The fantastic synth sounds and heavy bass on ‘False Alarm’ echo and he really pushes the boat out in terms of vocal performance, but this is the only real song on the album to experiment. Singing about drugs, sex, and fortune is common for the Weeknd, and it is a prevalent theme throughout the entire album. It can be said that this album, out of his three current releases, lacks the originality of Trilogy that once enticed people to listen to the Weeknd. Other than Kendrick Lemar’s verse on ‘Sidewalks’, the features on the record on this album are very weak and seem like wasted potential.   

By no means is the album bad, however, every song makes for easy listening and there are a few stand-out songs. The issue with the album is that Abel can’t seem to settle for one specific sound and it is generally very inconsistent. A variety of throwback synths, house beats, and RnB rhythm feature on several of tracks but no set of songs feature a consistent spine. The album is a rollercoaster of highs and lows, never really reaching the same level as ‘Trilogy’ or ‘Beauty behind the Madness’.  

Following up from the ‘Starboy’ album, the Weeknd went on his Starboy World Tour from February 2017 to July 2017. Additionally, he has featured in tracks on the urban and RnB scene, most recently ‘the curve’ by Gucci Mane. On the majority of features Abel has appeared on, he has stolen the show. During this period, there has also been an introduction of several new urban artists; Post Malone, Lil Uzi Vert, and XXXTENTACION to name a few. And each has attempted to pull off a moody and depressing tone featuring issues such as fame, depression, and love. But the fact of the matter is that, despite the many attempts to emulate Abel’s moody, sad and RnB style, nobody can pull it off to the same level. Many try to emulate him, but the Weeknd still dominates the RnB genre he created.   

So, one year later, I’m still yearning for more of the Weeknd; filling the void with new artists that can’t compete with him. However, with the changing style of urban music; with a subgenre of emo rap bursting onto the scene and new originality, there is hope the next LP Abel makes will offer something fresh that ‘Starboy’ lacked. Some innovation that will make me think ‘Trilogy’ was not just a fluke.   

Posted by Charlie Merrell

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