The Weeknd brings his finest effort to date in “Beauty Behind the Madness”
BY NATALIE SHIRVANIAN
“We are not the same I am too reckless / I’m not tryna go in that direction,” Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd), sings in the first line of “Tell Your Friends.” Tesfaye’s second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness” released on Aug. 28 through Republic Records.
With opening lyrics as such, The Weeknd remains himself, reflecting the style from past mixtapes and debut album, “Kiss Land.” Fans anxiously awaited for “Beauty Behind the Madness” to drop, unknown of Tesfaye’s future. Although The Weeknd made the decision to go mainstream with his music, he makes it clear that he is not changing his music or himself due to the exposure of the limelight.
As Tesfaye embarked on his journey to fame, he experienced struggles with homelessness, heartbreaks and drugs, making him a self-made, independent artist. Combining the events in his life, Tesfaye mysteriously writes lyrics using innuendos that may not be easy to understand for some.
The Weeknd’s first number one hit single “Can’t Feel My Face,” produced by Max Martin, was dubbed one of the hottest songs of the summer. Unbeknownst to many, the track references Tesfaye’s two favorite things: cocaine and sex.
“Beauty Behind the Madness” uniquely became a pivoting album by The Weeknd, creatively mixing in dark and grimy lyrics, like his new hit single, “The Hills.” The track is similar to Tesfaye’s past tracks, such as “Wicked Games” from his album “House of Balloons.” The eerie under tones and deep bass make it feel as though it is a horror film.
Although Tesfaye moved into the spotlight, he does not stray from his usual lyrics of drug infested parties and lustful fantasies. He is not afraid to tell his new fans and critics what The Weeknd is all about on “Tell Your Friends,” where he sings, “Don’t believe the rumors b****/I’m still a user/I’m still rocking camo and still roll with shooters.”
However, “As You Are” reveals a side of Tesfaye that some may not be familiar with. The chorus shows emotion towards a girl with a broken heart in which he accepts her the way she is: “Show me your broken heart and all your scars/ Baby I’ll take, I’ll take, I’ll take, I’ll take you as you are/I’ll take you as you are.”
The record introduces Tesfaye manipulating his pipes to show a wide vocal range. Many songs have a unique style like in the Ed Sheeran collaboration “Dark Times.” As Sheeran is a pop/blues artist, he plays bluesy guitar in the song, which grabs the attention of listeners, and the raw voices and passion of the Weeknd and Sheeran take over the track. They sing, “In my dark times I’ve still got some problems I know/driving too fast but just moving too slow/and I’ve got something I’ve been trying to let go/pulling me back every time,” singing of their temptations, accompanied with celebrity lifestyles that easily can draw them to alcohol, drugs and sex.
From the beginning of the record, The Weeknd invites his listeners into his world, giving a small glance into his life as he does soul-searching on the beautiful collaboration “Prisoner,” featuring Lana Del Ray. The Weeknd shows that the appetite for drugs, sex and music is very much alive. “Maybe I’ve been always destined to end up in this place/yeah/I don’t mean to come off selfish/but I want it all,” Tesfaye sings, knowing he has always been destined to be where he is with his career.
The Weeknd concludes “Beauty Behind the Madness” with the track “Angel,” which sonically represents an 80s power ballad, singing of an angelic girl he lets go so that she can find someone who actually cares about her.
The Weeknd created “Beauty Behind the Madness” knowing it was going to be mainstream; however, his talent and diverse songs show his maturity as an artist and a young man. The thrill of “Beauty Behind the Madness” was worth the wait, as The Weeknd introduced new mainstream material while keeping true to himself.