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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The Weeknd finally reveals the beauty behind his madness

    “It’s all about me trying to feel something else besides what I’ve been feeling the past four years,” The Weeknd told a reporter from The New York Times Magazine, referring to his highly anticipated sophomore album.

    Released on Friday, Beauty Behind The Madness is a hauntingly dark memoir of the life of Abel Tesfaye, who comes to grips with his identity and feelings for the first time.

    Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name, The Weeknd, has introduced himself to the mainstream music world with hits like “Love Me Harder” featuring Ariana Grande and “Earned It” from the film “Fifty Shades of Grey” with the intent of becoming the biggest pop star in the world.

    However, his preceding album Kiss Land and his compilation album Trilogy don’t share the same pop influences Beauty has.

    With R&B, futuristic and trancelike melodies, Tesfaye sings of having meaningless sex, abusing drugs and living the lonely life.

    In previous albums, Tesfaye’s voice was his main instrument, while in Beauty the use of instrumental sounds complement his wide vocal range. The influences of Michael Jackson, jazz, blues and 80’s rock ballads are also more prominent.

    Although his sophomore album incorporates a more mainstream sound, all three of The Weeknd’s albums are similar in content. Tesfaye still sings mainly about his life.

    This is not a weakness.

    Upon his entry into mainstream culture, Tesfaye faced critics and fans scared he would compromise his dark style for something that more people would expect and accept.

    The Weeknd was not willing to give up his honest material, but he was willing to shape his songs such that they were of clear pop music structure.

    For that, Beauty does not disappoint longtime fans, and the music industry today deserves a big round of applause for allowing such dark and honest lyrics to play in rotation.

    What makes Beauty a progressive album in relation to Tesfaye’s life is that his true feelings about his lifestyle start to surface.

    “Real Life” perfectly introduces the album with anticipatory guitar chords and percussion, with an orchestra that signals the start of the lyrics.

    Tesfaye establishes his character by telling his audience up front, in a seemingly accepting manner, that everything his mother said of him when he was younger is the truth — his mother’s words became his real life: “Mama called me destructive / Said it’d ruin me one day.”

    “Tell Your Friends” is obviously reminiscenct of Tesfaye’s old sound. He seems to want to address the image that people associate with “The Weeknd.”

    This is who Tesfaye is, and not even his pop album can change that.

    Two songs later, “Acquainted” is where the lyrical content of the album starts to take a new direction. Tesfaye’s fear of emotional commitment is very evident, but there’s a slight hint of something that’s never been heard before, something more behind the scenes: the possibility for love.

    “To say we’re in love is dangerous / But girl I’m so glad we’re acquainted,” Tesfaye sings. Love is a new theme that continues to lace itself throughout the rest of the album.

    “Prisoner,” featuring Lana Del Rey, is a track that has been highly anticipated since its discovery on the album’s tracklist. Though it’s not as musically memorable as other tracks, the pair’s dark and trancelike vocals make for a perfect duet.

    “I’m a prisoner to my addiction / I’m a prisoner to a life that’s so empty and so cold,” The Weeknd sings in reference to his newfound feeling of love — Tesfaye seems unsure whether or not love is suited for him, but he’s tired of being trapped in that cycle of avoiding his lonely reality with sex and drugs.

    The last track on the album, “Angel,” evokes the feel of a heartfelt 80’s rock ballad. Tesfaye seems to understand who he is and the lifestyle he chooses to live, but he reveals that he’s not as emotionless as he leads people to believe.

    “But I know time will tell if we’re meant for this / And if we’re not, I hope you find somebody / I hope you find somebody to love,” Tesfaye sings, showing that he is willing to let go of this angel of a woman in order for her to find happiness; that’s how much he cares for her.

    “Angel” ends abruptly, leaving the audience wanting more. The irony is that as soon as The Weeknd filled our hearts with the hope for love, he leaves.

    At the end of the album, Abel Tesfaye has found a heart despite thinking it impossible. Tesfaye has found the beauty behind his madness.

    Follow Justice Amarillas on Twitter.

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