Singer The Weeknd recently released his third studio album, Starboy.
He had won a lot of fans with his second studio album, Beauty Behind The Madness, and many people were hyped for this new work. Cutting his trademark hair and the success of the album’s first single, also titled Starboy, further increased the hype the singer was bringing something totally new. A couple of Nigerian fans are miffed that he chose a name they feel belongs to singer Wizkid, and he’s never bothered to respond to those claims.
Beauty Behind The Madness was easily the most successful project of The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye. On Starboy, The Weeknd acknowledges that he’s now a star, adding fame and money to his usual audio cocktail of sex and drugs. “Bought mama a crib and a brand new wagon,” he sings. “Now she hit the grocery store lookin’ lavish.” The song features Daft Punk who also co-produce the song, and it’s a collaboration that works twice on this album, and one we should expect to see more of in the future.
As with every emerging R&B star, many of Tesfaye’s day-one fans had been disappointed when he began drifting towards pop with songs like Can’t Feel My Face on Beauty Behind The Madness. He’s been able to placate them by his lyrical content largely the same, and he does the same on Party Monster. He starts off yet another drug tribute singing, “I’m good, I’m good, I’m great. Know it’s been a while, now I’m mixing up the drank.” The song is produced by Don McKinney, who was responsible for many of The Weeknd’s songs during his Trilogy days, and comes with that hazy feel from his songs back then. The song ends with an interlude with one of his more frequent collaborators, Lana Del Rey.
Starboy and Party Monster seem to be quite deceiving, as there are few stand out tracks in the album, after them. The 26-year old singer seemed to look to the ’80s for inspiration on this album, evident in the rocky False Alarm, and it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
There have been plenty comparisons between The Weeknd and Michael Jackson in the past, and this album further evinces that. One song that pushes this is A Lonely Night, an electro-themed song that sees Abel apologize to a one-night stand for leading her on.
At 18 tracks long, there is not much variation on Starboy, and most of the songs just sound alike and pass on without leaving much impact. This includes Six Feet Under, another Don McKinney offering with Low Life collaborator Future adding a couple of vocals that might help this song get a couple of radio plays. Future also appears on All I Know, but neither song is as good as their hit collaboration, Low Life.
One of the album’s more unique offerings is Rockin’, a potential EDM-pop hit produced by the duo of Max Martin and Ali Payami. The duo also combine for Love To Lay, yet another forgettable song on the album. The Weeknd goes on to tell a story with his new wave attempt Secrets and 90’s R&B-themedTrue Colors, describing his journey to meeting and discovering a new lover.
Sex is obviously the major theme on this album, and it continues on the interlude with Lana Del Rey, titled Stargirl. Ms. Del Rey begins by describing a very vivid sex scene between herself and Starboy. “Scratching counter tops, I was screaming/My back arched like a cat/My position couldn’t stop you were hitting it,” she croons in her usual dark, depressed style.
Starboy doesn’t come with many features, and out of the few present, the most impressive is Kendrick Lamar, who comes in on Sidewalks.
The album is expected to make an entrance at number 1 on the Billboard album chart, as expected for an artiste of his standard. He sings more about the impact of this new found stardom on his relationships and his lifestyle on Attention and Ordinary Life.
The album ends as beautiful as it started, with yet another Daft Punk-assisted song. Yet another ’80’s pop sound on Starboy, I Feel It Coming sees a different The Weeknd from the one we’ve seen so far, as he tells a love interest they could be much more than just lovers.
While Starboy certainly makes for a good listen, it’s not a worthy enough successor to Beauty Behind The Madness, and falls short of the high standard The Weeknd has now set for himself as a star(boy).